I had so much fun planning the Staff Appreciation Week for my daughter’s school last year that I immediately starting mulling ideas around in my head for this year’s celebration. I think that I may like this theme even better. I present to you… Superhero Staff Appreciation Week!
All of the Superhero Printables for this event are available at Simply Styled Home on Etsy. (For those of you wondering, Simply Styled Home is my creative counterpart. Step-by-step instructions to recreate this event will be posted on SSH later in the week.)
A week and a half before Superhero Staff Appreciation Week, all of the teachers and staff received this invitation in their mailbox, along with a lunch preferences questionnaire and drink order form (more about those down below).
Superhero posters were our main decoration this year. John Wolfe, a local photographer and fellow parent, took pictures of everyone decked out in a customized superhero cape and mask from Kid Kapers. I have been eyeing those capes for months and was thrilled that she had time to make a Superman style cape with an “M” for Mann Elementary. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Did you know you could have capes customized? How fun is that?! I love Etsy.
Originally I had planned on using the pictures John took as is, but then I got the great idea (if I do say so myself) to turn them into comic book style posters with advice from each staff member to students. John transformed each photo into a comic book style poster which I used to decorate the hallways, and an 8×10 photo for the classroom doors. (Tutorial coming soon.)
Before I go any further, I want to give a shout out to the Lake Washington School District print shop. I mistakenly assumed they only made black and white copies, but oh no! They print posters, sheets of stickers, labels, color copies, you name it… And all of it is gorgeous, fast, and extremely affordable. The posters were a HUGE hit with the students. In fact, when I was taking them down at the end of the week (while wearing my awesome Supergirl shirt) a little boy said to me, “Why are you taking the posters down? You aren’t a superhero! You are a villan!” For me that was the ultimate compliment. I am so happy everyone enjoyed the superhero theme as much as I did. The moral of the story: If you are planning a school event, be sure to utilize your school district’s print shop.
The Friday before SAW, the students were sent home with “I Think You Are Super Because…” pictures to color for their teacher. On Monday, the students presented the pictures and notes to their teachers, and the room moms came in and put them on the classroom doors along with the 8×10 superhero photo.
We had extra “I Think You Are Super Because…” pictures in the office for students to color. Many of them wanted to make pictures for past teachers, the music teacher, librarians, etc. There was a poster in the stairway letting them know where extra pictures were located.
Now that the groundwork was laid, I focused on the activities for the week, each one being Superhero themed, of course. I used SignUp Genius to coordinate sign ups with the Hospitality Committee and Room Parents for these activities. I made everything look pretty, but I couldn’t have pulled off an event like this without the wonderfully supportive parents at our school.
Monday: POP! Popcorn Bar
We had eight different varieties of gourmet popcorn for the staff to enjoy throughout the day. After listening to feedback from last year’s gourmet popcorn bar, we made half of the flavors sweet, and the other savory. If you have never made gourmet popcorn, don’t be intimidated! You can find all sorts of fabulous popcorn recipes on my Simply Pop! Pinterest board.
Tuesday: Hero Sandwich Lunches
The parents made “boxed” lunches for every staff member at the school. I included a questionnaire with the invitations asking the following questions: What is your favorite sandwich? Favorite bread? What do you like on your sandwich? Favorite chips? Favorite salad? Favorite dessert? Favorite drink? Favorite dessert? Any allergies? I asked that the questionnaires be returned by the Thursday prior to Staff Appreciation Week. Once I received them, I forwarded the answers to the parents who signed up to make lunches. Once again, the parents blew me away with their creativity!
TIP: The lunches at our school are staggered from 11:15-12:30 so this year I sorted the lunches by time on six foot tables at the back of the room. Sorting the lunches by time made it a snap to find the lunches, and having them on a table in the back (instead of the lunch tables) gave the teachers and staff plenty of space to eat their lunch.
Wednesday: ZAP! Super Charged Breakfast
I included drink orders with the ZAP! Breakfast Invitation, and asked that the teachers and staff return them the Thursday before Staff Appreciation Week. They had the choice of a Super Charged Smoothie (berry smoothie) or a drink from Starbucks. The drink orders were printed on 8.5×11 sticker page and cut to size. (This is SO much easier than trying to line them up on shipping labels!)
Purchasing lattes for the entire staff is a huge portion of the Hospitality Committee budget each year. The week before SAW, Starbucks offered a $5 for $10 Gift Card Groupon. I couldn’t have timed it better if I’d tried! Each person was limited to one Groupon, so I sent an email to the entire Hospitality Committee and asked them to please purchase a Groupon and email me the certificate. (I reimbursed them out of my budget.) I also did this earlier in the year with an Everything Party Groupon, knowing that I would be buying decorations, silverware, plates, etc. for Staff Appreciation Week. I was able to reduce my expenses by about $150 this year using Groupons!
I took 1/2 the orders to the Starbucks about a mile away, and 1/2 to the other Starbucks a mile the other way. (Remember, I live in Seattle. We’re surrounded.) I pre-paid for all of the drinks to make pick up easy for the 4 parents picking up the 40 lattes the next morning. The baristas loved the sticker labels. They quickly and easily made the pre-ordered drinks and attached the labels. The drinks and breakfast were waiting for the teachers/staff at 7:50am. I wanted them to have time to enjoy their breakfast before school started.
Thursday: “Soup”er Luncheon
March in Seattle is typically grey and rainy, perfect soup weather. I couldn’t resist having a SOUPer luncheon. Despite the fact that it was gorgeous and sunny (the complete opposite of soup weather) the lunch was a success. We had a wonderful variety of soups (6 varieties for 46 staff members was plenty) in addition to fresh fruit, veggies, and a few treats. I especially liked the “I Think You Are SOUPer” stickers which served as napkin rings, and the “Emergency Hydration” drinks. You can’t read the back of the water bottles, but they say, “Super powers will activate within 10 minutes of drinking.”
Friday: Dangerous Dessert Bar
I have paid close attention to what the teachers and staff eat at our Hospitality Committee events over the last year. The overwhelming majority are very healthy eaters and eat very few sweets. In fact, at the Super Charged Breakfast this year, the majority of the food I asked for was fresh fruit and Kind Bars. Yes, there were a few dozen muffins and bagels, but those were eaten much more slowly.
The Hospitality Committee outdid itself last year with the desserts. They were Seuss-y and colorful and fabulous. There was also a lot leftover. This year, I thought less would be more. I created a dessert table with a mix of bite sized treats and traditional favorites provided by some amazing dessert vendors!
A party is not a party without cupcakes, and Three Monkey’s Cakery made some super fondant toppers for the cupcakes that I purchased at our local grocery store. I added superhero printable party circles for an extra pop of color.
For those that didn’t want a cupcake (say what?!) we had gorgeous macaroons (or macarons) from The Splendid Sweet Shoppe. I have the utmost admiration for anyone who can make a beautiful macaroon. These were amazing and so colorful!
Sweet Tweets made AWESOME super cookies with an M instead of S. I was seriously impressed. I used some of them for the dessert table, but the majority of the cookies were wrapped in cellophane bags and tied with a “Thank You!” tag to take home along with their “Superhero Award” to enjoy later. (More on the Superhero Award down below.)
The highlight of the dessert table was definitely the cake pops from Decadent Cake Pops. The owner, Jaime, and I met at our children’s preschool a few years ago. I have ordered cake pops from her in the past and my girls love them. Last year I discovered that both of my girls are highly sensitive to gluten, dairy, and eggs which excludes them from all of the fun birthday treats children have at parties and/or bring to school. I asked Jaimie if she could make me gluten free/vegan cake pops, and she did! I now keep a stash of GF/Vegan cake pops in my freezer at all times. When anyone in my daughter’s classes bring in a birthday treat, I pull out a cake pop and send it with them to school. Cake pops are my new favorite thing. These superhero cake pops were the normal variety, but it’s nice to know there are delicious and fun options for those of us dealing with food allergies.
Speaking of food allergies, Wickedly Whipped made Wonder Woman Rice Krispy pops (yes, those are real!) for everyone, but especially for those staff members that cannot eat gluten. Who am I to deprive someone of treats? Who doesn’t love Rice Krispy treats?! Unfortunately the mail man didn’t deliver them in time for lunch on Friday but they did arrive before school got out for the day so I whipped up (get it? ha!) a quick display of take home treats for the staff.
The teachers and staff also took home a Superhero Award at the end of the week. They are after all, the most amazing superheros I know.
There you have it! Superhero themed Staff Appreciation Week. It was epic. I have no idea what I am going to do next year. LOL!
I have loved Valentine’s Day my entire life. I distinctly remember choosing the perfect valentine for each of my classmates, the joy of decorating the giant heart shaped envelope for my desk, and the excitement of opening my valentines. It is safe to say that my girls enjoy Valentine’s Day every bit as much as I do, and now I get to make them too!
Today, I wanted to share three quick, easy, and adorable valentines. The good news is, you still have time to whip one of these up before the big day, should you be so motivated. All you need is a camera and some candy. It really is that easy.
Ready? Let’s go!
These are the valentines for my girls this year. I took a picture of Zoë and Eden each holding a blank heart chalkboard. I added “Happy Valentine’s Day!” in Photoshop and sized the photos to fit on a box of conversation hearts. (Two photos fit on one 4×6.) I also typed custom messages for each of the grandparents and had 5×7 prints made.
I’m sure I saw this idea on Pinterest, but for the life of me I can’t find the original source. I took a picture of Zoë and Eden holding a piece of white PVC pipe. (A kind man from Home Depot was kind enough to cut it down for me.) I added a border and text to each valentine in Photoshop. I left Zoë’s blank and had her sign each one, but Eden was only three at the time and hadn’t yet mastered her name. Using an exacto knife, I cut a slit at the top of the PVC pipe and inserted the lollipop. The finished valentine looks like they are holding giant lollipops! TIP: Tape the sucker to the back of the valentine or they will fall out.
Finally, take a picture of your child holding their hand out. Add a cute message in Photoshop and print as a 4×6. Using an exacto knife, cut a slit at the top of their hand. As above, insert a lollipop. Voila! It looks like your child is holding a lollipop. Isn’t Valentine’s Day fun?!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Project Life is a fabulous simple system to get photos scrapbooked and stories told, whether you are a paper or digital scrapbooker. The new collections coming out (baby and childhood) in addition to the new core kits make it easy to create beautifully coordinated pages with minimal effort. That being said, I think going the digital route has some distinct advantages.
The Advantages of Digital Project Life
1. Templates are the best thing that ever happened to digital scrapbooking, and there are so many Project Life digital templates to choose from. No more spending hours designing the perfect layout. Simply find a layout you like, add your photos, some journalling, and embellishments if that’s your thing, and you’re done! For 2012 (and again in 2013) I am using a one color per month design, which means that each week I “Save As” on my current layout, then swap out the pictures, a few accent cards, add some journalling and I’m done.
2. Digital supplies can be used again and again. I used one $3.00 paper pack for my entire 2012 album. How much would 104+ pieces of cardstock cost? I also used this $4.50 set of digital stamps by Ali Edwards every single week. The savings can really add up.
3. Digital layouts are so easy to share. When they are sized for the web, they can be posted on Facebook, your blog, or emailed with the click of a mouse. You don’t need to worry about getting the perfectly focused, glare-free photo of your finished layout. (I also keep them on my iPhone.)
4. It is SO easy to make copies. This is probably my favorite reason for digital scrapbooking, especially since starting Project Life. Each year I create an 8×8 photo book of my Project Life album for each grandparent in our family, along with copies for my girls (which they will receive when they are adults). I had been ordering my books from Snap My Life Creations (formerly Inkubook) but they went out of business at the beginning of the year, hence the giant stack of photo books pictured above. I had to order them while I still could! I would love some photo book company recommendations for next year.
5. Two words: Spell check.
There you have it, my two cents. Before you take the digital leap, keep in mind that you do need to figure in the cost of printing your layouts and the initial purchase of photo editing software.
TIP #1: I buy print credits from Persnickety Prints when they have their semi-annual sales to help reduce my printing costs. I also wait to order my layouts until I have a substantial number to print to reduce my shipping costs.
TIP #2: Some digital scrapbookers resize their 12×12 layouts to 8×8 before printing to reduce the printing cost.
I placed my biggest Persnickety Prints order to date at the beginning of the year… 95 prints! It was a very happy day when the rest of my 2012 (and 2011) layouts arrived in the mail. It really is my favorite mail, Christmas cards aside. I can’t tell you how good it felt to slide the layouts into my completed 2011 and 2012 albums. I don’t think I’ve ever been this caught up since I started Project Life in 2009!
I did quite a poor job of keeping up with my layouts in 2011 and 2012, something I hope to remedy in 2013. If you’d like to look at my completed 2012 Project Life album, you can see it here. A detailed tutorial on how I created the layouts can be found here.