Friday, August 28, 2015

Five Tips for Making Your Back to School Shopping Experience Easier

August has arrived with lightning-fast speed this year, and you know what that means- only a few cabin weekends and summer getaways before your kids head back to school. To help get your kids prepare for the school year, read these five tips for making your back-to-school shopping experience much easier.

1. Make a Budget

Once you determine what your child needs in terms of school supplies, clothing, lunch and gym bags, and other back to school necessities, determine a budget. This will be essential in preventing your spending from spiraling out of control. This is especially essential for big ticket items like quality backpacks, sports equipment, and laptops. Budgeting will be essential whether you are school shopping for a kindergartener or a college freshman.

2. Involve Your Kids

Back-to-school shopping is an excellent opportunity to teach your kids to be responsible with smart spending and saving habits. Explain to them why it is necessary to have and stick to a budget. Help them prioritize wants vs. needs (for example, they can splurge and invest in a cool new backpack, if they spend less on an expensive binder or pair of shoes) because it’s never too early for kids to learn smart financial habits.

3. Shop at Home First

There’s a good chance that many of the items on your child’s school supplies list are sitting right at home. Look in craft bins or office storage for extra pencils, pens, rulers, and more. For some added fun, turn it into a scavenger hunt, and award the winner a prize! Shopping at home extends to your child’s closet as well. There’s no need to create an entirely new wardrobe when they can reuse well-fitting, quality clothing already in their closets that they can easily wear this year. Just restock the essentials they’ve grown out of with clothing that can easily be mixed and matched.

4. Shop Around

Instead of visiting your regular big box store for school supplies, shop around for the best deals. Compare deals in coupons and flyers to see where best to buy certain classroom supplies, clothing, or equipment. Check out deals online as well.Researching store advertisements might take some extra time, but the savings will be worth it in the long run. Consider shopping at thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales, and on Craigslist. Many of these places offer quality clothing and excellent bargains on backpacks and equipment for a fraction of the price.

5. Think Ahead For Next Year

You know how you can get Christmas decorations and wrapping paper between 75% and 90% by December 26th? Back-to-school supplies operate in much the same way. Many stores and online sites offer excellent deals on school supplies by the middle of September. Buy supplies in bulk and store them at home. This way, you have a cache of school supplies in case they run out, and you’ll have most of next year’s list complete!

Back-to-school shopping can be a fun experience. Develop a budget, stick to it, and involve your kids with the experience. This way, you can save your time and money on the important things, like quality time with your kids before they head back to the classrooms. To help get your kids back into the school year routine, visit for some smart and healthy tips!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summertime Crafts for Creative Kids

Summertime is every kid’s favorite season for fun adventures under the sun, but what can you do when it gets too hot to stay outside? Arts and crafts, naturally. Check out these fun ideas for the best summertime crafts for creative kids.

Girl working on crafts.jpgClassic Crafts
Friendship bracelets, finger paints, and macaroni noodle necklaces are classic kid favorites, but what are some idea that you can take outside? Try this colorful plane idea. All you need are 3 craft sticks (for the wings of the plane), 1 clothespin (for the body of the plane), paint, and glue. Cut 1 craft stick into thirds, and then paint all the craft sticks and clothespin. Once dry, glue one craft stick on top and one on the bottom of the opening of the clothespin. Glue the 1/3 piece onto the top of the back end where you pinch the clothespin. Let dry, and voila! A mobile airplane.
For more classic crafts, try:

Nature-Inspired Crafts
Where are the best supplies for crafting in the summer? Outside naturally! Look no further than your backyard and local parks for interesting leaves, flower petals, grass, and more. Encourage your kids to use what they find to make an all-natural sun catcher. Simply take a colorful paper or plastic plate and cut the middle out. Cut a piece of contact paper slightly larger than the piece you cut out and attach it to the plate. Have your little one attach their nature findings. When they are done, tape a ribbon to the top of the plate, hang it on a window, and enjoy!
For more nature-inspired crafts, check out:

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Artsy Crafts
Classic and artsy, tie-dying clothes and accessories is an excellent summer project. Take, for instance, this tie-dye T-shirt bag. Grab a T-shirt, spiral it into a bundle, and then tightly wrap rubber bands around the T-shirt. Grab a tie-dye kit to start your project, and follow the instructions. Once dry, turn the shirt inside out, cut the sleeves off the T-shirt, and cut the neckline so it is wider. Sew the bottom of the shirt together, turn it inside out, and there you have it, a summer tie-dye T-shirt bag.
For more artsy crafts, try:

Edible Crafts
Really, the best crafts are the ones you can eat when you are done. Try this super simple summer skies edible craft: Make blue jello. Once set, spoon it into small serving glasses, alternating between jello and whipped cream. If so inclined, make suns out of yellow and orange construction paper, attach it to a craft stick and place in you summer skies serving glass. You can alternate with orange slices for added edible fun. Easy and delicious.
For more edible crafts, visit:

Whether you use these ideas or create your own projects, summertime crafting is an excellent way to spend time with your kids.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How to Have a Successful Garage Sale

A wise person once said, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, and with it being garage sale season, no quote has ever been more true. Having a garage sale can be beneficial financially just to help make a few bucks, but more importantly can help you to clean all the extra clutter around your home. Hosting your very own garage sale can seem overwhelming, but we have compiled some tips to help you out!
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Plan Ahead
A successful garage sale doesn’t happen overnight! Schedule yours on a day that everyone in the family can fit into their schedules to ensure they can contribute. Also, do a little research before you schedule, because there may be a city-wide garage sale day in your area and that would guarantee the best turnout possible.

Don’t Be Shy With Advertising
People aren’t going to come if they don’t know it’s there! There are so many ways that you could advertise that you’d be silly to not take advantage of it. You could simply have the kids put posters around town or even put signs up for possible customers. Ther are usually a few local garage sale sites on Facebook, or you could use other websites that will let people know when and where your sale is, such as Garage Sale Finder, Craigslist or Yard Sale Search.

Don’t Overprice
Remember that there was a reason that particular item ended up in the yard sale. Don’t price it too high so no one would want to even think about purchasing it from you! A good rule to go by when marking prices is to set the price no more than ⅓ the original price of the object. Also, put yourself in the feet of the customer… Would you rather pay $6 for that t-shirt with a spaghetti stain or a hole in the armpit or 25¢?

Who Doesn’t Like Extra Money? (Optional)
On a hot day, most garage salers tend to get thirsty. Also, the best deals are snagged in the morning, meaning dedicated garage sale goers are out for hours at a time. An easy and fun way to get the children involved is to have them sell food and beverages at the yard sale! It is almost impossible for someone to say no to lemonade and popcorn from a little kid.

Having a garage sale is easy, but have a successful garage sale is no small feat. It requires a little bit of time and effort, but it's worth it when you clean up and sell all that “junk” that cluttered your home!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Get Jump Start on Father's Day

Father’s Day is June 21st. While you may have a plan in mind for your Father’s Day activities, think about the start to Dad’s special day. Do you make a special breakfast? Shower him with gifts? This year, help your kids show Dad how much he means to them with a special start to the day.

Breakfast in Bed
Just like Moms do on Mother’s Day, Dad appreciates a nice breakfast in bed- with a few small adjustments; Mom likes flowers and chocolate, but Dad would probably prefer bacon and black coffee. Get your kids involved by letting them help cook, or decorating a special place mat for the meal. Making Dad his own breakfast in bed is sure to be a big hit. After all, the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!

Make Dad a Card
There are a hundred different ideas for Father’s Day cards to choose from. One option is to wish Dad a “Fishing” You a Happy Father’s Day Card.

What you will need:
  • construction paper
  • colored tissue paper
  • scissors
  • crayons or markers
  • glue

Use one rectangle piece of construction paper to be the base of the card. Depending on your child’s age, you can either fold the card in half, or just use the front of the paper for the card. On the front, draw the basic outline of a fish attached to a hook and fishing pole. Cut pieces of tissue paper in small shapes to use as fish scales; you can use squares, eye-drops, circles or any shape you like. Have your child glue the “scales” onto the fish. Draw an eye on your fish, or glue on a googley eye. Write on the front of the card “Fishing” You a Happy Father’s Day. The inside of the card is up to you; write Dad a special message, have your child sign their name, or add more fish on the inside.

Finger Paint Fun
Besides a card, there are a few different crafts you can try with finger paint to make a one-of-a-kind craft for Dad. Paint the entire hand, or just a few fingers to create some fun monsters. You and your child can make trees, hearts, animals, or just finger paint a picture for Dad. If your child is still small, try a “You are My Sunshine” sign for dad to hang up at home or in his office. Using a canvas board, paint the circle of the sun in the corner, then use your child’s footprints as the rays of the sun. Add your custom gift to his bedside breakfast tray.

Dad works hard for his family all year round. Father’s Day is the one day a year to really show dad how much you and your family care; whether with a crafty gift, a hearty meal, or a homemade keepsake. Get a little creative with your gift this year, and give the man in your life the best start to Father’s Day he could ever want.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Spring Cleaning tips-How to Get the Kids Involved

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Spring cleaning is a touchy subject that we don’t particularly like to think about, but eventually need to address. Make this year the year you call in reinforcements against those dreaded chores with a gathered team of energetic workers- your kids. After all, you didn’t mess up the house all on your own, so why should you be the only one responsible for cleaning it up? The real question is, how do you possibly get kids to clean? Here are a few ways to get your kids excited about cleaning. 

Don’t Overuse
Children have short attention spans- usually shorter if they are cleaning. Instead of assigning a lot of chores for them to do in a single day, assign them one big chore to do or a few smaller jobs. Giving less work helps guarantee more of a chance that the chore will be done correctly and with attention.

Make Cleaning Fun
You are probably thinking that there is no way that the words 'cleaning' and 'fun' could be in a sentence together without the words 'is not’ in-between them, but it is true! Here are just a couple ideas to help:  
  • Set a timer. Kids love racing, and what better way to have a race than to see who can pick up the most dirty laundry in 30 seconds, or clear all the toys from the floor?
  • Make up challenges- challenge your kids to try and see how many toys they can hold in their arms at one time.
  • Pretend- maybe you and your child are butlers or maids, maybe an evildoer has splattered the room in “radioactive” laundry that needs to be thrown in a special bin to save the bedroom floor and its residents. 

Parent/Child Duo
Imagine getting to work alongside your biggest hero- that’s what it is like for a child to get to do something important with mom or dad. Encouragement and teamwork between you and your child can go a long way. This also can be seen as a great way to teach your children certain cleaning skills and promote a clean lifestyle.

Planning rewards for the kids can benefit not just the children, but also you! Let’s be serious- you didn't happily give up your Saturday off to clean up the house. Schedule a treat with the kids for their hard work- things that you like also- and do something like ordering pizza or renting a movie! 

For added reward fun, try The Chip Shoppe's Toss a Chore Dice. The set of 2 dice has 12 different chore options, including “Set the Table” or “Empty the Trash”. After completing chores, kids can let the Roll a Reward Dice determine their reward. The 12 different rewards include Ice Cream or Free Play Time.

Just because they are called “chores” doesn't mean they need to be undesirable. Recruit your little ones for some added help- and possibly some added fun- next time there are chores to be done!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Chip Shoppe Spring Warehouse Sale 2015

The snow has melted, the birds are chirping and it is time for the Spring The Chip Shoppe Warehouse Sale!

The Chip Shoppe Warehouse Sale will be:

  • St. Cloud, Minnesota
4759 Heatherwood Rd. St. Cloud, MN 56301
    • Thursday, May 7th, 2015 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    • Friday, May 8th, 2015 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    • Saturday, May 9th, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

  • Jackson, Wisconsin
N169 W21177 Tower Dr. Jackson, WI 53037
    • Thursday, May 14th, 2015 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    • Friday, May 15th, 2015 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    • Saturday, May 16th, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The warehouse sale will be filled with great items for you and your family. All food items are $6.00 and Gift items are 75% off! You can stock up on your favorite Chip Shoppe foods, like our famous Chip Shoppe cookie dough, gourmet soups, delicious cheesecakes, pies and braided bread.

We also have great gift items such as gourmet chocolates, trendy jewelry, kitchen items, candles and other household decorative items. Remember to get here early, once an item runs out, it’s gone!

Friday Special: Sausage & Cheese Egg Bake only $3.00 each

Saturday Special: Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Pockets only $3.00 each

As our gift to you, feel free to print the coupon below to receive 1 free gift item with purchase. We hope you find just what you are looking for at the sale. Be sure to like our Facebook page to keep an eye on any specials or updates we may have.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Little Curiosities; Science for Your Kid

Inspire, occupy, and incite wonder with these easy-to-do children's science experiments! From the colorful to the totally gross, head to your kitchen for a few quick lessons in science, sure to produce plenty of Oohs and Aahs of amazement!

The Color Changing Carnation
A pretty cool staple of children's science experiments, the color changing carnation experiment is a must-see for tiny nature lovers. Where does the water go when little hands help water mom's garden? Let your children explore the importance of water and the functions of roots and stems.
You'll Need: -6 white carnations  -Food coloring   -4 Plastic cups -Water -Knife (for parent's use only)
1. Fill the plastic cups half full with water. Add 15 drops of red food dye to the first cup, adding blue and then green to the other cups. The last cup should be left without coloring.
2. Cut each carnation stem at an angle, creating a fresh cut. (Tip: cut the stems under water to prevent air bubbles from filling the stem, which will not allow water to be carried through the stem.)
3. Place a freshly cut carnation in each cup and wait for the results

-May take up to 24 hours for the colored water to reach the white petals. Check back every few hours for results!

Magic Rock Candy

Test out a 'supersaturated solution' using a childhood favorite- sugar! In this experiment, the water and sugar mix creates a supersaturated solution in which the water is only able to absorb and hold the sugar while both are hot. During the cooling process the sugar is leached out of the solution, becoming a crystalline work of art on your skewer!

You’ll Need:
-2 to 3 cups sugar
-Wooden skewer or chopstick
-1 clothespin
-Tall glass
-1 cup water

1. Clip wooden skewer at the top, between the clothespin (this will hang down into the glass, held in place by the clothespin).
2. An adult should bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add 1/4 cup sugar to boiling water, stirring until dissolved. Continue adding sugar to boiling water until no more will dissolve. The process of dissolving will take a bit of time, don't give up!
3. When no more sugar will dissolve, remove boiling water from the burner and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
4. Pour sugar solution into the glass, almost full. Place skewer into the solution so that it hangs without touching the sides of the glass.
5. Take a few guesses as to what will happen! Allow the glass to sit undisturbed for 3-7 days, and watch your rock candy form! (Tip: for colored rock candy, add food dye to sugar water)

Watch Bacteria Grow!
Your kids have been told time and again to wash their hands; bring this simple lesson to life with a petri dish, and some guesses about germs! Are there really germs on your hands? Is your cat's mouth cleaner than a human's? What's really living on your toilet seat?! Let's play with some microorganisms, and find out! (Hint: your petri dish and warm conditions provide the optimal place for bacteria to flourish into colonies; which samples produce the largest amounts of bacteria?)

You'll Need:
-Cotton swabs
1. Using a separate cotton swab for each petri dish, swab a door handle, the floor, or the bottom of your shoe. Choose your own area to test for germs- maybe places you child needs to be reminded to clean
2. Rub the cotton swab gently over the agar in the petri dish, and seal when finished. Repeat steps for each new test you wish to complete.
3. Place petri dish in a warm area for 2-3 days, and observe as your bacteria begin to multiply!
4. Once finished with your experiment, leave petri dishes tightly sealed, wrap in newspaper, and discard.

A Secret Message

Enter spy mode with this secret message maker. Diluting lemon juice in water allows the mixture to be undetectable when written with on paper. Because that handy kitchen lemon is an organic substance that oxidizes (becomes brown) when heated, adding a little heat to your secret message will reveal it to wondrous little eyes!
You'll Need;
1.Half a lemon
2.White paper
3.Lamp or light bulb
7.Cotton swab

1. Squeeze lemon juice into a small bowl, and add a few drops of water. Mix with spoon.
2. Dipping cotton swabs into the lemon juice mixture, write out or draw a secret message on white paper. Allow juice to dry and become invisible.
3. To reveal your hidden message, heat paper by holding it close to a light bulb and watch what appears!

Inspire some curiosity in your kids with some of these science experiments. Not only is it fun for you and your children, but your kids will learn a thing or two along the way. School is nearly out for the summer- keep your child’s brain stimulated and their imagination buzzing this summer!