Holidays & Gifting DIY Archives | This is Jthomp

Category: Holidays & Gifting DIY

Winter Break Activity Packet for Elementary age kids #winterbreak #kidsactivities

Winter Break Activity Packet

I’m Bored!  I don’t have anything to do!  

Have you heard these statements from your children when they are a break from school?

Winter Break Activity Packet for Elementary age kids #winterbreak #kidsactivities

When my kids have an extended break from school, they use that time to play outside with friends and during Winter Break that play with their new things from Christmas.  

But, there does come a time when they don’t want to go outside or the weather isn’t cooperative.  They don’t want to play with the stuff they have and I hear the inevitable, “I’m bored” or “I don’t know what to do.”   

When this happened during summer vacation, I began creating activity packets for my kids to work on.  This was an excellent way to give my kids some structured activities when they didn’t want to play outside or do free play inside.  It also helped reduce their screen time and tapped into their creativity.

Presenting the Winter Break Activity Packet

Today, I present to you, my Winter Break Activity Packet.  It is designed for elementary aged kids and can be completed individually or as a parent-child time activity.  You know your child best and can decide if they will need assistance completing these activities. This pdf contains activities that can be done during winter break or anytime during the winter months.   

activity packet work time

This packet contains a winter break wordsearch, word scramble, and crossword puzzle as well as a comic strip activity, Santa postcard activity, and much more.

Get the Winter Break Activity Packet for Free

You can get this activity packet pdf for free for joining the ThisIsJthomp mailing list.  Joining the mailing list will also ensure that you are notified when the Spring Break and Summer Vacation Packets are available.  Once you sign up, you’ll receive an email with a link to the winter break activity packet pdf.

Check out my plan for organizing your kids as holiday helpers in the kitchen

Here’s 11 ways you can use Oreos in your dessert making

And check out these Hidden Christmas Music Treasures

11 Ways to Use Oreos in Your Dessert Making

11 ways that you can use Oreos in your Dessert Making

If you love Oreos, you are going to love these tasty treats that feature one of our favorite cookies!

11 Ways to Use Oreos in Your Dessert Making  #oreos #dessert #oreodessert

Some of these are pretty quick and easy to make and should seamlessly ease their way into your repertoire of desserts, especially during the holiday season.

Be sure to pick up a pack or two of Oreos so you can impress your friends and family with a delicious twist on the ordinary Oreo.

Top of this list are Oreo truffles, also referred to as cookie balls.  I LOVE the filling for these truffles and could just eat it out of a bowl.  One of my co-worker made them last week for our department and I told her the same thing.  The best thing about these truffles is that there is only 3 ingredients in the basic recipe.   Oreo Truffles

I found this recipe by chance and I’m so glad I did.  I love cheesecake and these Oreo Cheesecake cupcakes are a tasty way to combine two delicious desserts into one awesome treat.  I plan to make these for our family’s holiday party this year.

The next two recipes are dessert dips.  I think these are great items to bring to an office party or lunch.  The second dip listed is a three ingredient recipe while the first has more ingredients and take a little longer to prepare.

Creamy Oreo dip dessert

Oreo cookies n creme dip

Muddy Buddies is the brand name for this treat.  It was called Trash when I made it in Home Ec in Middle School and I also heard people call it Puppy Chow.  I feel like making Muddy Buddies yourself creates a better tasty treat. Here’s the cookies n cream variety.  This is a fun family dessert to make.

My kids love mug cakes but buying the store bought individual mixes gets pricey.  This is a great way to get a mug cake without the cost of buying a ready made mix.  Try this Oreo Cookie Mug Cake.


This decadent treat blends peanut butter and Oreos together for a rich dessert that is sure to please.

Just as Chocolate and Peanut Butter can go hand-in-hand; chocolate and mint pair very well also.  What better way to join them together than with a Oreo Mint tart. These are sure to please.

I always think homemade fudge is better than store bought fudge.  This fudge brings out the cookie and cream flavor of the oreo and is great as a gift.

Ever had Oreos in your brownies?  You’re missing out! Give these fudgey goodies a try!

This is a great version of candy bark to try if you are not keen on peppermint bark.  This gives you the same consistency without the peppermint flavor. This another idea to use as a gift for coworkers or neighbors.    

If you love Oreos, you definitely want to give some of these recipes a try.  Have you used Oreos in your dessert making before? How did you incorporate them?  Drop a comment and let us know.

Marvel Fangirl Gift Guide

Marvel Gift Guide for Women

Do you know a huge Marvel fan?  Don’t know what to get them for a holiday, birthday or special occasion?  Here a gift guide to help you find that perfect item for the Marvel fangirl in your life. 

(This post contain affiliate links, which means that I may get a commission for referring you to Amazon for your purchase.  This does not affect your price at all.)

Marvel fan gift guide for women #marvel #gift #marvelgift


I love Marvel movies and I find myself collecting all sorts of things from figurines to t-shirts to jewelry and much more.  This list will give you a wide variety of products that choose from that are sure to bring a smile to that Marvel fan in your life.  These items could be a great gift to yourself as well.  Click on the picture or the link if listed will take you to Amazon’s site to give you the most up to date pricing information.  These items have a huge range of price with many coming in at less that $10.  


Marvel Jewelry

This category contains a variety of jewelry from earring to keychains.  You can find a variety of Marvel jewelry out there.  My favorites in this section are the Winter Soldier earrings and the Thor and Loki brothers necklace.


Marvel Funkos and Marvel Figurines

I love having my Funkos on my desk at work.  It helps me make my work space more homey and fun by displaying my Marvel love around me.  




Marvel T-shirts and Marvel Clothing

There are a plethora of Marvel T-shirts available.  I’ve selected some for this list my might be less than mainstream.  I love the first shirt, which I have a variation of, but I’d like to get this updated one.  The Marvel socks in this section are very cute and a great practical gift that any Marvel fan will love.  I think that the women of Marvel shirt that is including was a rare find that would be a unique addition for someone that loves the strong female characters of the Marvel movies.








Marvel Handbags

I love these handbags.  They look stylish but have a great Marvel feel to them.  I’m adding the Loki bag to my wish list.



Loki Loungefly Hand Bag

Loungefly Black Panther Faux Leather Handbag



Marvel Books 

This listing of books includes volume one of the newer Loki comic.  The Marvel 1602 graphic novel is an interesting story that describes what happens when some Marvel characters are transported to the time of Elizabeth I.  The last two book are novels that follow Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff.


Marvel fan gift guide for women #marvel #gift #marvelgift


Hopefully this list gives you some great ideas to make your gift giving for your Marvel fan easier.  Any Marvel fan would love these items.  So what item is on your wish list?  Would you like any of these items?  Drop a comment and let us know.  Check out this post on some Hidden Christmas Music Treasures.  The playlist includes 2 Christmas songs sung by Robert Downey, Jr.  This is a nice gem for any Marvel fan.   

Here is my list of Awesome Hidden Christmas Music Treasures.  Did you know these existed?  Some of them are more known than others.  But, this is a collection of some unique or little known Christmas songs.  Now, some of these finds are traditional Christmas songs, but the version or the people singing is what makes them a hidden Christmas music treasure. 

(This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission for trials started )


Hidden Christmas Music Treasures

How can you get easy access to these songs?  Amazon music is running a promotion now.  Instead of a 30-day free trial you can get  3 months of their unlimited music streaming service for just 99 cents.  After that it costs 7.99 a month. BUT, you can cancel after your three months with no problems. There is no commitment!

Click the banner below to get your 3 months of unlimited music for only 99 cents!

I like this service because I tend to go through phases where I want to listen to certain types of music.  I am able to stream them unlimited without actually needing to purchase songs or albums physically or digitally.  You can download the songs to your device so that you can listen to them offline.  You can also create playlists and share them.  At the end of this post will be the link to this playlist on Amazon Music.


Hidden Christmas Music Treasures

1. Christmas Has Come, Raskasta Joulua

The is the English version of a more traditional Finnish Christmas song.  The lyrics of the song are very rooted in the reason for Christmas

This particular group is composed a singers from rock groups in Finland.  I first heard the Finnish version of this song on YouTube after clicking through some video of songs from some Finnish rock groups.  I’m really into music from Finland right now. A lot of bands record in English, but this super group has a Christmas Album in Finnish and then an English version as well.  

Here’s link to the YouTube Video of the original version from this group in Finnish but I love hearing it and actually seeing the singers here.  (I did find a lyric view that was a traditional version with kids singing it, so that I could learn to sing it in Finnish too, so I do belt it out in the car on the way to work, lol)

Tulkoon Joulu

Here’s the English Version  (Very worthy of car singing as well) Christmas Has Come



2. Run, Rudolph, Run: Lemmy Kilmister, Dave Grohl, Billy Gibson

This is the Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead.  Don’t let that dissuade you, this version of Run Rudolph Run has a great rock-n-roll feel to it.  (please note: at the very end of the song, Lemmy says, Merry Christmas, m’f’er; just so you know)    

Run, Rudolph, Run

3. Oh Come All Ye Faithful: Twisted Sister

Yes, the Twisted Sister from the 80s; We’re not going to take it.  Twister Sister came out with a Christmas album; and they did some Christmas touring off the album.   

Oh Come All Ye Faithful

Bonus:  Check out this stripped down version of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.  Very moving  We’re Not Gonna Take It


4. Blue Christmas: Tom Keifer

Tom Keifer is the lead singer of the 80s band Cinderella.  This song has a nice bluesy feel to it and Tom’s voice is a smoother alternative to our usual Elvis version.

Blue Christmas


5. Thank God It’s Christmas: Queen

Queen is my all time favorite band and the lyrics of the song are excellent.  

Thank God It’s Christmas

6. Do You Hear What I Hear: Linda Eder

This is a powerful version of this song.  It changes your whole view of this traditional song when you hear the power behind these voices.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

7. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three King: Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan

This one is a bit more mainstream but there are still some that haven’t heard this version.  It comes from the Barenaked Ladies Christmas Album

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

8. 12 Days of Christmas: Straight No Chaser

This is so fun and definitely not your usual 12 Days of Christmas.  Make sure you listen to the end.

12 Days of Christmas

9. Angels from the Realms of Glory: Annie Lennox

I love Annie Lennox’s voice.  She has a entire Christmas album.  This song she did live for Christmas in Washington in 2010.

Live version:  Angels from the Realms of Glory Live

Studio Version: Angels from the Realms of Glory Studio Version

10.  River: Robert Downey, Jr

These two songs come from the TV series Ally McBeal. They had a Christmas album for this show and RDJ was featured on it, as he was a cast member.  I knew that RDJ had an album out of his own and on a whim searched for “Robert Downey, Jr Christmas songs” and I found these treasures.


11. White Christmas: Vonda Shepard and Robert Downey, Jr.

White Christmas


Links to Hidden Christmas Music Treasures Playlists

Here’s a link to my playlist on Amazon Music.  Unfortunately, the Robert Downey, Jr. songs are not on Amazon.  The Annie Lennox song is not live, but it is still excellent.

Hidden Christmas Music Treasures Amazon Music Playlist


If you use Apple Music, here is a link to this playlist on Apple Music. The Robert Downey, Jr songs are on Apple music.  The Annie Lennox song is not live, but it is still excellent. 

Hidden Christmas Music Treasures Apple Music Playlist

Check out this article for other great free trials as well as some tips for remembering to cancel the free trial if you are not interested in keeping it.

Great Free Trials

Have you heard any of the these versions before?  Will you be adding them to your Christmas playlist?  What are your favorite Hidden Christmas Music Treasures?  Drop a comment below and let us know!

As always thanks for reading!  If you found this post helpful, please share it with the handy buttons on the side.  Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.  Buttons are at the bottom of the page.



Hidden Christmas Music Treasures

how to organize your kids as holiday helpers in the kitchen

My kids like to help prepare big special occasion meals and desserts.   I’ve created a method of organizing my kids as holiday helpers in the kitchen but also cut down on the chaos of having everyone in the kitchen at once.

how to organize your kids as holiday helpers in the kitchen

This plan worked perfectly for me at Thanksgiving and I’m planning to continue this plan for, not only Christmas dinner, but also for preparing for our holiday party as well as making Christmas cookies and other desserts.

The first thing you should do is make a list of all of the things that you need to prepare for the holiday meal or your big kitchen event.  Once you’ve made a list of all of your items, decide what kinds of things your holiday helpers can assist you with. Those dishes and desserts will be put on your sign-up sheet. I just listed them on a sheet of notebook paper.  This sign-up sheet is going to be used to allow each of your children their own time to work with you one-on-one to prepare the item they chose.  I let my kids take turns signing up back and forth so that one person does not sign up for all of the things that the other child wants to help with. One big goal for me was to cut down on arguing between my girls, taking turns helps a lot.  

Next, number the list in the order that the items are going to be made.  This way my holiday helpers know when it is their turn to work with me on a dish.  This also ensures that they signed up for dishes they want to help with not, just the ones that are first to be made.  If possible, I try to make sure that I can alternate back and forth between the things my kids signed up for, so that I don’t have large spans of time with only one kid having a chance to be in the kitchen.  This also helps my kids not lose interest in helping because their time in the kitchen is spaced out..

Holiday Helper Victoria with a mixer

Holiday Helper Victoria with a mixer

As I get underway in our meal preparation, once one dish is finished and baking or chilling.  I start to transition to the next dish by cleaning up, rinsing or washing utensils, etc. Whomever is helping me next has the job of getting out the ingredients that we will need next.  You can call out these ingredients to your child as they get them or you can create a list that they can use to fetch the items you will need. This was helpful because it allowed me to clean up our space which meant that the kitchen was not a total disaster after so many dishes and desserts were prepared. With this type of process, once we were completely done preparing all of our dishes and desserts, the kitchen was very easy to straighten up at the end.


My kids loved this plan.  They had a sense of accomplishment and were  very proud to tell their father all of the dishes that they helped make as my holiday helpers.  I also got to spend some quality one-on-one time with them, which is often difficult when you have more than one child.  They got special “just me and mommy” time. A huge benefit was because both children were not in the kitchen helping at once, it cut down a lot on any arguing and fighting that might happen as each kid wants to help do the same things as the other, if we were all working together at once.  I also found that after preparing a huge meal, I was not exhausted from doing everything myself and having to regulate fights between siblings; that was a perk I was not expecting.

Holiday Helper Peyton having a good time in the kitchen

Holiday Helper Peyton having a good time in the kitchen


If this is something you want to try out, just follow these steps.  

  1. Make a list of all the dishes or desserts that your kids can help you make
  2. Have your kids sign up for which items they would like to help you create.  (I recommend taking turns with the sign up)
  3. Number your list so that the kids know i what order you’re preparing the items  They will know when they’re turn is coming. If possible, try to alternate which children are helping you so that we don’t have large spans of time of just one person in the kitchen.
  4. Use your children to help in transitioning from one dish or dessert to the other by preparing and pulling out ingredients as you straighten up from the previous dish.


I hope this idea helps you organize all of your Holiday Helpers and you have some good quality one-on-one time with those little ones.

What kinds of things do your kids enjoy doing in the kitchen with you?  Do you have any great ways of helping your kids be more of a help to you while you are preparing big meals?   Drop a comment and let us know.

As always thank you for reading.  Please share this post if you found it helpful and follow me on social media through Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.


how to organize your kids as holiday helpers in the kitchen

Easy vodka Christmas cocktails

I like to have cocktails at home but I don’t like spend a lot of time making them.   I want something quick and easy to put together but that still has a great flavor. My preferred alcohol is vodka and I really like exploring the new flavors and infusions that you can find. My family just moved and we wanted to welcome our friends and family to our new home with a Drop-In style Christmas party. My husband wanted to offer some Christmas cocktails to our guests. This led me to create this list of easy vodka Christmas cocktails that you can enjoy by yourself or with a group of your family or friends. I personally use Smirnoff brand infused and flavored vodkas so the flavors that I am listing are all ones you can find by Smirnoff but you can find other brands with similar flavors as well. For all of the cocktails listed you will not need any special tools or equipment.


Easy vodka Christmas cocktails

Spiked Hot Chocolate

I love hot chocolate. I do not like coffee so hot chocolate is my go-to warm winter drink. Here I have some selections of spiked hot chocolate ideas that will definitely take the chill off a cold winter evening.

Mix up your favorite hot chocolate 4 to 8 oz depending on how strong you want your drink.

Add 1.5 oz of one of the following:

Whipped Cream flavored vodka

Caramel flavored vodka

Peppermint infused vodka

Marshmallow flavored vodka

vodka spiked hot chocolate

Vodka Spiked Hot Chocolate


I love Almond Joy candy bars so this hot chocolate idea is inspired by this tasty candy treat.

Almond Joy Inspired Spiked Hot Chocolate

2oz coconut flavored vodka

1oz amaretto

4 to 8 oz of hot chocolate

Top with Whipped Cream


I always see a huge selection of flavored vodkas and Infused vodkas and I’m always wondering what  would pair well with these flavors. Hopefully some of these listings will give you some ideas for easy vodka Christmas cocktails if you are not well versed in cocktail-making.

A good friend of mine freezes cranberries during the holiday season and uses them as ice cubes in cocktails and other beverages.  I think that is a great idea for use in a Cape Cod or a Baybreeze.


Cape Cod

1 part vodka (use regular or cranberry infused)

1 to 4 parts cranberry juice to taste

*For an extra twist add a splash of sprite

*For something different use pomegranate infused vodka



1 part vodka

1 to 2 parts cranberry juice

Equal parts pineapple juice to cranberry

*For an extra twist add a splash of sprite


I went through a phase where I was all about Sprite and Vodka.  I think some of these ideas will make for easy vodka Christmas cocktails.  

Around the holidays Sprite puts out a Cranberry Sprite, this would pair great with either a regular vodka, a cranberry vodka, or a pomegranate vodka.

Keeping with the Sprite theme try this one out:

2 oz cherry  vodka

1 oz amaretto

4 to 8 oz of Cherry Sprite (or regular Sprite)


Warm or Cold Apple Cider

Add 1.5 oz of caramel flavored vodka


Root Beer

Add 1.5 oz of vanilla infused vodka, or whipped cream vodka.  Smirnoff makes a root beer float vodka, but my local store doesn’t carry it, if you can find it, it might be tasty.  Make it a real root beer float by adding a scoop of ice cream.


If you have no experience making cocktails but want some  easy vodka Christmas cocktails give these ideas a try and you’re sure to enjoy it delicious drink.


Do you have a great low prep cocktail that you like to enjoy during the holiday season?   Do you have a favorite flavored or infused vodka or have you not tried any of them? Drop a comment and let us know!   

As always, thanks for reading and please share or pin this post using the handy icons!

Easy vodka Christmas cocktails



Does a picture of a beaker with 2 fluids labeled hexane and water make anybody out there laugh?  I know one person that laughs. So when my friend scanned a mystery QR Code and that picture popped up it caused immense laughter; because of the inside joke that it relates to.  I turned a lot of inside jokes into the perfect gift.


So how did I turn several inside jokes into a great gift for my best friend?

It all started leading up to Christmas.  I was looking online around Christmas for ideas for low-cost/no-cost gift ideas for others and I ended up creating this idea for my best friend based on a list I saw (I’ll link that list at the bottom of this post).  This idea was going to be perfect.

The final product was 20 envelopes that each had 2 QR codes in them.  These QR codes corresponded to links online for memes, pictures, funny videos, and songs.  A lot of these represented inside jokes between us. The songs reflected things that we liked, were popular, or that we thought were funny when we were in college.  There were a lot of memes that were about friendship and YouTube videos I thought she would like.

This was fun for me to create and it has been fun for my friend to discover what has been included.  She sends me a text of something that made her crack up or that she thought was sweet or “so true” and we get more laughs out of it.  She’s opens them at her own pace and the fun has lasted well past Christmas.

This would be great for a birthday, anniversary or as a “pick me up”.

Steps I took to create this gift 

Step 1

Finding your online treasures.  You will need links to create your QR codes.  This is pretty easy for YouTube videos. You will just need to copy the link for sharing.  For images that I found on a Google search, I right clicked on the image, and selected “copy image address”.  This makes sure that the QR code links back to the original image destination and retains appropriate credit for the site/creator/poster of the image.  

screenshot how to link a meme

Step 2

Creating the QR codes.  This is actually pretty easy to do.  I use The QRCode Generator   You have options of what you are creating the QR code for.  Make sure you select URL at the top. Once you enter the link, the QR code will generate on the right.  Just make sure that you save it so that you can print it out later. The generator will also let you input text that can be recalled with the QR code.  Please note: your gift recipient will need to download a QR reader onto their device if they do not have one already. They can be found for free in the app store for the device.

screen shot of qr code generator 

Step 3

Printing your QR codes.  Once you have all of your codes saved, you can loaded them into a word processing document and print them out.  I used Word for this but you can use whatever you like to you the most. I used the “insert picture from file” option and highlighted all the QR code files at once.  Word pasted them all in the one document, one-right-after the other. I then just printed this document out.

Step 4

Cut out your QR codes and place them into envelopes.  I put 2 to 3 in each envelope with a total of 20 envelopes. It’s up to you how many you want to create, make, put into an envelope, etc.  You can use regular white envelopes or colored ones; leave them plain or decorated. It’s up to you.

Step 5

Presentation.  How will you display the envelopes for giving?  I found some colored jumbo craft sticks that had a little adhesive square on the end at a craft store.  I adhered one envelope to each craft stick. Next, I filled a deep glass decorative dish (you can find some at the dollar store) and filled it with colorful gravel.  I stuck the craft sticks in the bowl to create an almost bouquet-like presentation.

colored craft sticks



Minimal.  The main money cost is in the presentation method.  The biggest investment was time.  It took me a while to find all of my visual treasures that I wanted to include.  However, it was time spend having because I spent it reliving old memories, laughing to myself, and picturing what my friend would do when she saw these things.


Practicality fails  

I didn’t pick a deep enough dish so the sticks would not stay upright very well.  My dish was also not big enough length and width size for the amount I wanted to use.  I could have used smaller envelopes and smaller sticks for better results.


Other presentation ideas

You could skip the envelopes all together and adhere the codes themselves to the sticks.

You could create a poster of the envelopes.  

I thought about arranging them in a wreath like formation; maybe hot gluing painted/colored clothespins onto a circular form and clipping the envelopes with the clothespins.  


Here is the original blog post I was looking at the helped inspire this idea:  Click Here

There are a lot of great ideas in that post as well.


Let me know what you think and if you try this idea.  Share a picture of your presentation method that you use.

What is something you have given to your good friend that is low-cost but has that special personal touch to it?

Leave a comment to let us know.