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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

Planning For Holiday Shopping

Friday, October 8th, 2010

In a very unlike me fashion I have already started planning for the holiday shopping and have even purchased a few items already!  I used to only be able to take life one holiday at a time, but that made Christmas shopping both expensive and stressful.  So this year I am getting a jump on things.

I started by updating my recipients in the Google Docs spreadsheet list and removing all the gifts from last year.  This way I have a good number of what I need to get.  I decided to start with the kids on the list (because let’s face it, they are the easiest to buy for).  A few years ago we made a deal with both my brother and my husband’s sister:  instead of getting each other gifts, we go out for a dinner together after the holidays and we just buy for each others kids.  Works great.  I also started a tradition with my aunt and uncle where we each make a donation to charity in lieu of giving each other gifts.  I highly recommend doing whatever you can to reduce the number of gifts you need to purchase.

Here is my strategy for my kids and the other kids on the list:

  • Check Woot, Mamabargains, and KidSteals every day to see what the deals are.  Yesterday I stocked up on science kits that I can use for both Christmas and Birthday gifts
  • Read my Amazon e-mails.  I was able to order two Blue-Ray/DVD combo packs with a $10 off coupon and free shipping
  • Check the sales anytime I am in Target and buy (no waiting)
  • Order my Pillow Pets now!  Ok, I still need to do this, but my kids both really want them and I don’t want to risk stores running out.
  • If I see it at Costco, get it! They had a good price on the Leapster Explorer the other day so I grabbed it.
  • The Scholastic Book Fair at our school next week will be a great place to stock up on books for gifts.  I find books to be a great way to round out smaller gifts.

At the end of the day, we go to enough birthday parties that if I have gifts left over it will not be a big deal. It is much better to take advantage of the sales and free shipping offers now.

Then comes the hard part, shopping for the adults.  The grandma’s love the photo gifts, especially the calendars.  That is another one that needs to be done early if you want avoid expedited shipping fees so I will be checking Shutterfly and Snapfish for their current deals and get started next week.

4th Of July Food

Friday, July 2nd, 2010


Many of us will be going to parties this holiday weekend and most likely bringing a dish along.  I personally have been looking for some fun themed treats for our family potluck.  I have found that most are desserts or involve strawberries and blueberries!  Here are a few red, white, and blue recipes.  I am going to try making the pretzel sparklers this year!

Rice Krispy 4th of July Cut Outs – cute star shaped desserts
Summer Berry Trifle – with strawberries, blueberries, pudding, and ladyfingers
Red, White, and Blue Ice Cream Pie – ice cream and sorbet in a graham cracker crust
Wave Your Flag Cake – jello, cool whip and fruit (personal favorite!)
Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad – red, white, and blue skinned potatoes
Red, White, and Blueberry Skewers – strawberries, blueberries, and marshmallows
Pretzel Sparklers – pretzels dipped in chocolate and rolled in red, white, and blue sprinklers
Fruited Cheesecake Flag – individual squares combine to make a flag
Red, White, and Blue Strawberry Appetizer Recipe – with blueberries and yogurt or cream
Chocolate Covered Strawberries – use white chocolate and add blue and red food coloring

Have a happy holiday!

Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts

Friday, May 7th, 2010

May always seems to be a busy month.  Mother’s Day weekend already started for me yesterday when I attended the mother’s day breakfast at my son’s school.  He made a fabulously decorated bulletin board for me (it was very bedazzled) which already had a picture of him pinned to it.  Very sweet.  Now it’s time to turn to the two moms in my life!  My favorite first mother’s day gift after my daughter was born was a bracelet set for mom and daughter.  I hope to find more matching sets in bigger sizes since we both like to wear jewelry!

I have spent some time thinking and researching gifts for the moms.  They do love photo gifts, but let’s face it, you have to plan ahead for those!  So I have come up with a few last minute gift ideas for us busy moms who didn’t quite get to ordering anything ahead of time.

  • Digital Photo Frame – And if you are confident she will like it, upload a bunch of pictures to it so it is ready to go.
  • Netflix Subscription – If she loves movies or tv, this is an awesome gift.
  • Bath & Beauty Products – My personal favorite is Bath & Body Works.  Tons of fun lotions, bath salts, candles, body wash.  They even had pre-made baskets.
  • Flip Video Camera – You don’t need to be high tech for these easy to use small flip video cameras .  I bought one at Best Buy for my husband last year for Father’s Day.
  • CDs – yes, they still sell these!  Or better yet, make your own mix and burn a CD for mom of her favorite songs.
  • Magazine Subscription – Find a topic she likes and get her a magazine subscription.  Amazon.com makes it really easy to sign up and they usually have good prices.  Pick up the current issue so you have something to hand her and tell her she will be getting them for a full year!
  • Book – If mom reads, consider strolling over to a bookstore and picking out something new from her favorite author or topic.  Or if she likes to cook, get her a cookbook.
  • Plants – For the greenthumb mom, get a plant for the garden.  Get creative and try a fruit plant!
  • Purse or Jewelry – This can get spendy and hard to pick out so be careful here!
  • Gift Certificates – Tricky business. Some moms like this, some actually want something to open.  My recommendation would be for a spa treatment, favorite restaurant, or anything mom would consider a treat and not too practical.
  • Candy – Sees candy is always a big hit with the grandma’s.

If you have kids, add a homemade card to the gift for a special touch!

Getting Ready For The Holidays

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Does it feel like an endless list of things to do?  Parties, baking, shopping for gifts, buying the kids outfits and still making time for regular life.  It’s enough to make any parent stressed out.  My top strategy for surviving this time of year is making lists.  It’s the only way I can keep all of it straight.  With a child in school now there is even more going on!  And the gift list has certainly grown.  The biggest thing I can get out of the way before December is the holiday card.  Then after Thanksgiving the shopping begins.

I like to watch for coupons for my favorite stores and then strategically plan some shopping.  I used a Macy’s friends and family coupon to get my son a boys long sleeve plaid dress shirt and a red sweater for his holiday outfit.  The Ralph Lauren sweater was originally $50 and I paid $18. I had my son pick out the dress shirt so now he is excited to wear it. Look out for free shipping promotions and do some shopping on line.  Tomorrow is the last day to order from Amazon with free super saver shipping and receive your order by 12/24.  We have done a couple of things to make gift giving easier.  We are doing a book exchange with a few of my son’s friends.  Some relatives and I have decided to do donations to charity in lieu of gifts.

Remembering that it’s ok to say no is also a key to the season.  Stop and enjoy the things you really want to do.  Running the family ragged with activities will just wear everyone out.  We always carve out some time to go to Disneyland and see the decorations.  Create some new family traditions and celebrate some old ones.

I find squeezing in the every day things like grocery shopping and bill paying are starting to fall by the wayside.  So in addition to finding some to relax and sleep, don’t let the lights get turned out!

Kids and Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

It is important to involve children in Thanksgiving day.  With the cooking, cleaning, football watching, and adult conversation, children can sometimes get lost in the moment.  Here are some ideas of how to involve your children in the holiday which can make it more enjoyable for both you and the little ones.

Cook with the kids. There are lots of little things kids can do to help you get the meal ready.  Even if it doesn’t feel like a big help to you, it will help them feel invested in the meal and proud to have been a part of it.  Rinsing potatoes, stirring, tearing bread for stuffing, arranging the cheese and cracker tray, sweeping, and setting the table are all ways to get some help from your little ones.

Have activities for the kids. This may apply during prep time or the actual day.  Check out this site for Thanksgiving free printables, crafts, and games.  Find an area where the children can have enough space for their supplies (paper, crayons, markers, glue) and you wont get upset if it looks a little messy.  In my house we have an arts and crafts area in the garage.  You can even use some of the crafts they make  as decorations for the table. You can have older kids create place cards with each person’s name or you can dot the letters for a younger child to trace.

Seat the kids with the adults. A controversial one, I know.  But I really do enjoy having the kids seated with the adults during the meal.  We are one family and I like it to feel that way.  You can also avoid all those trips to the kids table to check up on them.  If space is an issue and you need to have a kids table, make it fun!  Line it with butcher paper so the kids can decorate the “tablecloth”.

Desert,coffee, and clean up help. The kids can help by asking each guest for their dessert preference and also who is need of after dinner coffee.  Younger children can assist by putting forks or spoons on the dessert plate and older children can serve.  Make a game out of clean up and see who can get the most items from the dining room table into the kitchen.

Traditions. Make sure your kids understand your family traditions and where they came from (if you know).  In our house growing up we always watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and my kids do as well.  What is your family tradition?

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Holiday Fashions For Kids

Friday, November 13th, 2009

With the holiday season comes shopping fun!  I love buying the kids their holiday outfits.  So what are the hot trends for childrens’ outfits for this season?

morgan copyGirls Dresses:  Silver and purple are the two trendiest dress colors this season .  Traditional black and burgundy are always classic for holiday dresses.  Try a dress with a pattern or textured fabric this year.  Sleeveless dresses are in style so you may want to compliment the outfit with a cute bolero jacket.  For more casual holiday events consider a sweater dress.   What’s out?  Peter pan collars.

Girls Outfits: Try a preppy plaid skirt with a coordinating solid color top.  Corduroy and velvet skirts are also super cute and can be dressed up or down with accessories making them very versatile.  Add a pair of cable tights and black or red patent leather shoes.  What’s out?  Sheer tights.

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Boys Outfits: It’s all about the sweater vest this year.  You can buy them as a set with the vest, pants, and shirts or coordinate your own outfit with separates.  You can also find these sets with a traditional vest.  If vests are not your thing, try a long sleeve sweater or a blazer with a nice pair of corduroy pants.  For more formal events go with a tan pin stripe suit.  What’s out?  Wearing all black.

Whatever holiday style you go with, I highly recommend involving your child in the decision.  It is so much easier to get them dressed when they like the the clothes and feel like they had a say in the matter.  Of course you can guide them to a certain decision or just give them color choices within a style.

Preparing Thanksgiving for 22

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It’s a time to get the family and perhaps some close friends together to enjoy a meal and good company.  No presents to stress about.  In our house it’s about the food, wine, people, and some football.

This time of year always sneaks up me though.  We are expecting 22 people this year for Thanksgiving (including ourselves), but thankfully it is our family tradition for everyone to bring a dish.  I have already started working out the menu:  deviled eggs, cheese tray, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, broccoli-cauliflower gratin, creamed corn, sweet potato, fruit salad, and pies.  The  guest list and grocery list are in Google docs.  I love having my lists web based!

Starting early really does save money.  I usually need to go to Costco, Smart and Final, and Ralphs (our local grocery store).  I bake a 20 lb bird and then deep fry a 12 pounder.  The grocery store usually has the best deals on turkeys with a minimum purchase, which is easily met with today’s grocery prices. I borrow extra tables and chairs to accommodate the large group.

On to the best part, choosing the drinks!  I like to have a nice selection of wine for each stage of the day.  A nice Prosecco champagne during the appetizers.   The main course will be accompanied by Ferrari Carrano Fume Blanc, Groth Sauvignon Blanc, Sterling Chardonnay, and Sanford Pinot Noir. Since my family like heavy reds we will also have some Liberty School Cabernet on hand.  I usually purchase the wine at Costco, but also check BevMo or Cost Plus World Market.  Beer drinkers will enjoy some Stella Artois and Fat Tire.  I will also make some fresh lemonade and coffee.  Sodas are a must as well so in addition to the basics we have Henry Weinhard’s Root Beer and Black Cherry soda.

I am starting to feel prepared.  Just need to start the shopping!


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