Saturday, December 15, 2018

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

If you've followed me for a while, you know that I normally split up the gift guide into separate posts. For example, I'll have a "beauty lovers," gift guide, a "for him," gift guide, etc. But I've realized, that makes it a little difficult to share the entire gift guide.  So this year, I'm trying to do them all in one.  And if we don't like it, we can go back to separating them all again next year.

First up:

For the Kids

I realize there is a TON of advertising on what to get kids for the holidays. Hatichmals are still happening (we gave in this year and my son is getting one). Along with tablets, video games, and all sorts of technology. But you don't need to spend a ton of money or have the latest tech to give a great gift. Sometimes, it's all about the classic playthings.


Play Visions Crayola Compounds are always a hit. Little ones can use these sets and their imaginations to create their own barber shop/hair salon, an underwater sea adventure, or a lair for monsters. Kids have been playing with toys like these for decades. They remain popular and may give mom and dad a little break to relax while the kids play.




Disney The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: A Center Stage Pop-Up Book
is a gorgeously illustrated book that will capture the attention of both children and adults. Perfect for the holiday season, this classic tale with a twist is full of fun and adventure.



For the Couple

Great couple presents are often hard to find. Either they are too assuming, too impractical, or too expensive for most people to feel comfortable giving.  That's where Crate of Love comes in.  I featured them in last year's gift guide and I'm doing it again. This subscription box is so cute AND affordable. A date in a box, this subscription is just $19.99/month and perfect for new parents or parents with young kids who can't do date nights out of the house often or couples who are homebodies and looking for new ideas on how to get closer. The website also offers a digital subscription with weekly games and challenges for just $1.99/month.  If you want to give this subscription as a gift without being billed monthly, there is an option to give three months for $59.99.

For the Beauty Queen

You guys know this is where I fall. Makeup and beauty products are my jam.  And you can't have makeup and beauty without...Sephora.  The Sephora collection is one of those "store brands" that doesn't behave like a store brand. They're on point but much more affordable than other higher-end brands.  My FAVORITE things from the Sephora collection are always the brushes. Sephora's brushes are my go-to. They perform beautifully and are still pretty affordable when it comes to quality makeup brushes. The Sephora Collection Spellbound Brush Set is gorgeous and on sale for $25 as I write this!

Other favorites include the Sephora Collection Moon Phases Palette (now on sale for $12),  Sephora Collection Mix & Mingle Lip Collection (now on sale for $19), and the Sephora Collection Enchanting Glow Palette (now on sale for $8).


If you're looking for beauty products that are organic and a bit more natural when it comes to ingredients, I recommend The Organic Skin Co.  Their products are cruelty-free and vegan (that means no carmine/ pulverized Cochineal in their lipsticks). I really love their lipsticks, cheek and lip tints, and their Almond face scrub called Nitty Gritty. All of their products feel great going on and perform beautifully.





For Him

This is always where I struggle. Men can be difficult to buy for. Especially if you're on a budget. But here are some ideas. I shopped at ULTA this Black Friday and walked away with so many gifts for friends and family. I bought the Fragrance Faves for Him and the Grooming Essentials sets. They also have a really nice gift set by The Art of Shaving on sale now for just $15.  Gift cards are another go-to. I know they can feel thoughtless. But if you know of a particular hobby or interest of the man in your life, you can put together a really nice gift basket with a gift card inside. Examples: For a coffee lover get a nice steel travel thermos, some coffee syrups, and a gift card to their favorite coffee shop. For the golf addict put together a basket of golf balls, golf tees, and a gift card to a nice golf club or resort. For the music fan, a band t-shirt, nice earbuds, and a Ticketmaster (or specific venue) gift card would be fitting.

Last Minute

If you are shopping last minute and need something that will be here in time, Amazon Prime is the way to go. Here is the link to my Amazon Favorites List. I'm always updating it. (I'm an Amazon Mom, not a Pinterest Mom.) Free Two-Day Shipping is always your friend.







 
  **This post is not sponsored. I did not receive payment for featuring these products. Some (not all) of the products were sent to me free of charge for review purposes.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Educational, Fun Activities To Enjoy With Your Kids Over The Holidays

Written by a contributing writer


With the holidays just around the corner, parents all over the country will be looking forward to taking time off work and spending some quality time with their kids. The holidays represent the most exciting time of the year for many families, but sadly, most parents are familiar with the sounds of kids moaning that they’re bored a few days into the break. If you’re keen to make the most of the time you have as a family this Christmas, and you want to keep those complaints at bay, here are some fun and educational activities to enjoy together.

Quizzes

Christmas is a great time of year to take part in family quizzes and general knowledge contests. You can team up with other members of the family or fly solo, and you can select a range of topics that are geared towards all ages. Make your quiz fun with interactive music and photograph rounds, inject some friendly competition, and find a small prize for the winners. You can choose from categories like science, nature, geography, the animal world, TV, cartoons and movies, comics and famous faces, for example. If you’re struggling for inspiration, and you’re the quiz master, you’ll find hundreds of questions online.

Building and construction

If you’ve got train tracks, building blocks, or endless boxes of Lego at home, get creative this Christmas and flex your architectural and construction skills. If you’re not au fait with the different elements of your child’s collection, take a look at LEGOways to find out more about different types of Lego and get some helpful tips for your latest creation. Building at any age is beneficial for hand-eye coordination, concentration, and fine motor skill development. This is also an activity that everyone can get involved in, and you can share in the joy and pride when your masterpiece is complete.




Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/2472232245

Board games


Board games are a dying breed in many modern households thanks to the rise in popularity of video games, but there’s a lot to be said for playing games around the dining table over the holidays. Board games enable you to play together, they teach kids how to follow rules, and they’re usually really fun. There’s a vast array of options on offer, from silly games that throw custard pies in your face to educational classics that are designed to maximize your cerebral prowess. If you’re buying new games for Christmas, look at age ranges, and think about what hobbies and interests your kids have.


Picture via https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/12680193503

Reading and storytelling

If you have young children, Christmas is a wonderful time to read together and make up stories. There’s a dazzling array of festive titles on offer, and you can snuggle up, get cozy, and embrace that festive feeling as you flick through the pages. Practice makes perfect with reading, and reading aloud can also help children to feel more confident. Telling stories can fuel creativity and enable kids to use their imagination.


The holidays are coming, and what better time of year to enjoy some quality time with your kids? Hopefully, these ideas will ensure hours of fun!

How to Get Children Interested in Music

Written by a contributing writer


It’s never too early to read to children, but how early can you get kids interested in music? Some parents play classical music while their babies are in the womb in hopes of boosting their brainpower. While research shows that classical music may not increase IQ, it might enhance listening abilities and spatial reasoning skills. Exposing children to music at a young age may also help them learn to speak and read. As kids get older, they can use music to build confidence, express themselves creatively and develop social skills.

Take Infants to Music Classes

When children are young, they and their caregivers can benefit from music classes. They’ll hear rhythms and melodies, and they’ll practice their motor skills by clapping and playing with musical instruments.

A 2012 study showed that infants that attended music classes before the age of 1 smiled more and had better communication than other babies. Another study found that toddlers were more likely to assist adults who had bopped along with a particular rhythm than grown-ups who were out of sync. This reveals that music may enhance social development.

Dance

Dancing helps children learn that they can express themselves. When dance is paired with music, it adds a sensory response. Children learn how to feel music instead of just listening with their ears. This promotes spatial awareness and coordination. It also helps young people express their ideas when they can’t come up with the right words.

Play Your Favorite Music

Some experts say that children’s music isn’t diverse enough to give children a healthy musical foundation. If you’re in a band, play for kids once in a while. You’ll get a kick out of seeing them rock out, and they’ll appreciate hearing good tunes. If you’re a parent, play music that you like when you’re around your kids. They might end up singing along and getting into the groove. Adult-quality music that changes its sound frequently is ideal.

Get Involved in a Charity

Many organizations across the country use volunteers to bring music into schools. For example, some donate piano NYC programs end up placing the artist-decorated instruments in local public schools. If you have musical skills, ask how you can share them with children at schools and youth organizations in your area.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

How To Save Money When You're A Busy Mom

Written by a contributing writer

When you’re a busy Mom, you can’t always spend a long time hunting around for the latest deals and there are some things that you just have to pay for. However, it’s also important to be saving money where you can, as being a parent is never cheap. As soon as you think you’ve got all of your expenses covered, your kids tell you that one of them has lost their shoes and another has no clothes that fit them. Whilst there is no remedy for the ever-occurring costs that you have to pay as a parent, there are some quick hacks that could save you a bit of cash.



Image credit


Thrift

Thrifting is often disregarded by people as something that can only ever bring you musty old clothes that have been rescued from the bottom of somebody’s wardrobe. This is a misconception, as many parents give their children’s clothes to charity after realizing that they’ve outgrown them within 6 months. There is an abundance of children’s clothing out there that have only been worn for a short period of time and will put a smile on your kids' faces. Thrifting is good for your wallet, good for the environment, and will enable you to get your hands on some items that are in near-perfect condition for much less. You’re welcome.

Look at comparison websites and reviews


Look, no parent has the time to go and look through millions of reviews, visit separate websites, and then decide what are the best places to get their gas and electric from. Luckily, there are a whole host of websites out there that compare and review things, from US mobile plans to the cheapest stores to shop in. Not only will this save you the time and effort of researching all of these things for yourself, but they are usually based upon what a variety of people think, from experience. Therefore, they are trustworthy ways to find out what companies are really like and what the typical consumer experience is like. What’s better than an honest opinion?

Use coupons

Ok, you may have watched a show like ‘Extreme Couponing’ and be a bit turned off by the idea of using coupons. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to stand in Walmart waiting for a member of staff to scan over 100 coupons. We’re not trying to get you to annoy everybody in the store. Whilst it’s good to look out for coupons when doing your in-store shopping, there are other ways to get discounts. If you’re buying something online, then look out for codes that you can enter at the checkout. You could save up to 50% by looking out for these and if you can’t get something that impressive, then you can usually at least get free shipping. Don’t pay it if you don’t have to!

So, there are many ways to save money if you’re a busy mom; don’t forget these quick hacks and you’ll be well on your way to having a jam-packed wallet!