7 Tips for Teaching Gratitude and Thankfulness During the Holidays

What better time to discuss thankfulness and gratitude than during the holidays? With four young ones to raise, I’m constantly worried that I’m raising unappreciative brats! Not that my kids aren’t well-behaved and courteous in public, because they are. But at home, it’s another story. There is a streak of entitlement running rampant and I want to nip that in the bud!

Thankfulness During the Holidays

My mom’s group at church recently discussed how to raise grateful children and it got my wheels turning. Am I doing enough with my four kids to teach them gratitude and thankfulness? And what about good manners? Don’t those go hand in hand? Of course saying, “Thank you” is important, but I think that true gratitude goes beyond good manners. And with the season of giving, there are so many beautiful ways to foster a feeling of gratitude. Here are a few key thoughts I have about teaching gratitude and thankfulness, especially during the holidays.

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1. Age Matters

Naturally I expect the best manners from my teenagers. And of course, my six year old knows how to properly behave…for his age. But I wouldn’t expect the same behavior from my toddler that I do from my kindergartner! Discuss with your partner ahead of time what behaviors you each expect from your children, with consideration for their ages.

This starts with teaching “please” and “thank you” from a young age. If your toddler receives a treat from someone, you can speak on their behalf to offer the “thank you”. Or if they are able to speak, remind them to say it themselves.

Elementary aged children can be expected to offer thanks without prompting. That doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes get wrapped up in the moment and forget though! Elementary aged kids do love to give, so make sure they have the opportunity to create something special for someone over the holiday (like a hand-drawn card).

Older children can show their gratitude in larger ways, both verbally and in physical action. Older kids and teens are able to think outside of their own small world and will often come up with their own ideas during the holidays. This may include donating their time volunteering.


2. Laying Out Expectations

Before we head out for a holiday-themed event, I run through my expectations for each child. When kids know what is expected of them, it’s easier for them to know their boundaries. I tailor topics to each specific child, depending upon their age and abilities.

Discussions might include:

  • Encouraging them to remember their manners during a holiday dinner when they are a guest (not wiggling at the table, using a napkin, etc.)
  • Chatting with the adult party hosts for a few minutes to say thank you for the invitation before running off to play.
  • Not whining about what foods they don’t like at the party.
  • Helping to clear their plate.
  • Offering to help the host to clean up.
  • Not asking for seconds of dessert, at least not until everyone else has had a first serving.
  • Saying “Thank you for inviting me” when leaving.

3. “I Want”

I told my mom’s group that I was having some issues with my six year old acting entitled to certain things around our house. Seems like the holidays brings out the sassy attitude even more! And what can we expect, when we ask our kids, “What do you want for Christmas?” With the focus on getting stuff so heavy during the holidays, young children can really get wrapped up in what they “want” and not what they can do for others.

Instead of asking the kids what THEY want to receive for Christmas, I’m twisting things a bit. I’ve been asking them what they think their siblings would like to receive. Instead of focusing on what they’re going to get, I can see that my kids are more excited to be involved in making decisions and helping choose gifts for others. We’re taking it one step further by making gifts instead of buying (easy things, like laminated bookmarks).

4. Role-Playing

What’s more cringe-worthy than a kid who receives a gift and says, “I hate this”. How embarrassing. And of course, hurtful to the person who gave the gift.

In our house, we do a lot of role-playing before parties and gatherings. It’s good practice for kids and a reminder of your expectations. Ideas for role-play is to ask, “What would you say if you received a gift that you didn’t like?” or “What if you received a gift that you already have?”

My son celebrated his sixth birthday recently and we did some role-play on the way to his play date birthday party. I asked him, “What if someone gives you underwear?!” His response was, “Thanks for the undies!”

So yes, the correct and easiest answer is always, “Thank you for the _____!” Even if you don’t like it. Even if you already have it. Even if it’s a weird present. Thank you is always the right comment to make.

5. Volunteer and Give

There are always going to be a lot of ways to volunteer your time during the holidays. Places like churches need extra help in the kid care area, which is usually something that teens can help with. Younger kids can assist with bagging up canned goods in a food bank.

There are also organizations that accept special items for donation during this season. When we donated food to our local food bank, I made sure that my 6 year old knew we were giving and explained where the food was going. He was so excited to tell everyone how many items he’d donated! We also made up boxes for Samaritan’s Purse this year. He helped me choose the items for the two boxes we filled and went with me when we dropped them off. He was able to see how grateful the volunteers were when we came with our donations and they prayed with us over the boxes. It was something he’s not forgotten and I know that it had a big impact on him.

6. Take the Focus Off Stuff

If you sense your kids are too focused on the stuff this holiday season, find ways to move the focus on experiences rather than things. That’s really what the holiday is, spending time with family and making memories. Things like baking and decorating cookies, watching a Christmas movie on TV, walking through the neighborhood to see decorations and singing along to songs on the radio are favorite ways to celebrate without spending a lot!

7. Keep It Simple

Figure out what things are most important to you and your family. From there you can decide what to do and what to skip this holiday. I find that when I try to cram too much good stuff into the season, it becomes not only stressful for me, it’s hard on the kids. And when the kids are having a rough time, it tends to come out in crabby behavior. And then we start to think, “Ungrateful brats!”

Be sure to work in plenty of downtime between holiday celebrations. Pick and choose only what you most love about the holidays and do those things. Don’t feel guilty about skipping over other things. Perhaps you can alternate years? Do what brings you and your family the most joy, incorporating gratefulness and thankfulness about being together!

Fed up with "ungrateful brats" during the holidays? These 7 practical tips can help teach you children about thankfulness during the holidays.


Mom’s Holiday Party Prep Tips for the Busy Season

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MerrySpritzmas #CollectiveBias

Though I really do try to stick to our family motto and keep things simple during the holidays, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the season. That means events, activities and parties just about every weekend in December. The holidays are a time of parties – I have two each weekend this season! I love it all, I really do. But wow, does it get busy! Seems I hardly have time to use the bathroom (we’ll get to that issue later!)

These practical tips will help Mom holiday party prep for an evening out! Ideas for time management & evening bag packing. #MerrySpritzmas #AD

Ready for a night on the town!

My husband’s work Christmas party was this past weekend. With four kids at home, I didn’t have a lot of time to get myself primped. But I still wanted to look good, right?! I’m sharing my tips for getting prepped for a night out, including what to pack in your holiday evening bag. Keep reading and I’ll give you all the details on why Poo~Pourri is a party MUST HAVE!

Hover over this photo and click on the images to visit Bed Bath and Beyond’s website, where you can order directly!

Time Management

When you’re getting ready to go out for the night, plan ahead and make a list of what needs to be done.

  • I chose my outfit the week before the Christmas party. I made sure to try on my outfit with the shoes that I was planning to wear. If you need to pick up stockings or tummy support briefs this will give you a few days time to grab those necessities.
  • I did my nails the day before so I wouldn’t feel rushed the morning of the party.
  • I needed a haircut before the party so I scheduled it for that afternoon. This way I was able to get the wash, cut and style and save time on not having to do my hair myself.
  • Have the babysitter arrive early so that will give you time to put your make-up on and get dressed so you aren’t running around, tending to the kids.

Packing Your Holiday Evening Bag

Just before before the party, I pack up my holiday evening bag. Once I’ve decided on my outfit, I match the bag with what I’m wearing. You won’t need a lot, so your evening bag can be really small – Unless you’re like me and your husband tends to hand you everything out of his pockets to carry in your purse. These are my handbag must-haves for a night on the town.

  • Wallet. Include at least a few dollars, just in case you need to tip or the parking lot only takes cash.
  • Drivers license or ID. You might get carded!
  • Make-up refreshers. This may include blotting papers to get rid of excess oil, finishing powder and lipstick or gloss.
  • A small mirror. Use it quickly to check your teeth and make sure there’s no holiday food left there after your meal.
  • Compact hair brush.
  • Fully charged cell phone. And just in case you get into a selfie mood and post a ton of pictures to social media, bring a back-up charger and cord.
  • Antacids. After eating a rich dinner & having a few drinks, my tummy needed some relief.
  • Car and house keys.
  • Poo~Pourri.

These practical tips will help Mom holiday party prep for an evening out! Ideas for time management & evening bag packing. #MerrySpritzmas #AD

Don’t be the Party Pooper

Time to get real. Think about the last party you went to. Seems like there is always someone waiting outside the bathroom door to use the facilities after you, right? With so many holiday parties at friends’ houses and the bathroom line down the hall, nobody wants to the be the “party pooper” – leaving a stink behind for the next guest!

Have you heard of Poo~Pourri? If you haven’t, this video is a must watch.

Simply spritz Poo~Pourri into the toilet bowl before you go. Poo~Pourri’s pure blend of natural essential oils creates a film on the surface of the water. The protective barrier traps odor under the surface – which means no stink! All you’ll leave behind is a light refreshing scent. When you leave the bathroom for the next person in line, nobody will be the wiser!

Give the Gift That Doesn’t Stink

I was recently at Bed Bath and Beyond and found a large collection of Poo~Pourri. It was located at a kiosk towards the front of the store. There were more Poo~Pourri products on an end cap (including a gift box that looks like a toilet!)

I have Original Citrus in the bathroom at home, which is a blend of lemon, bergamot and lemongrass natural essential oils. Merry Spritzmas® and Secret Santa scents are sold in this clever holiday pull-apart gift set (the text on the box makes me giggle!)

I kept Poo~Pourri Merry Spritzmas® in my evening hand bag. The blend of peppermint, vanilla and citrus is a spritz of holiday magic! And it was a relief to know I had the Poo~Pourri with me on the chance that I needed to use it at the party. Did I use it? I’ll never tell!

I already know whom I’ll be gifting Poo~Pourri Secret Santa to! Poo~Pourri is actually the perfect item for the holiday gift exchange –  It’s funny to give but it really works!

Don’t forget to look out for special coupons on one item at Bed Bath and Beyond’s website before heading out to shop or shopping online. And check out these other fun ideas on how to give the gift of Poo~Pourri this holiday season!

These practical tips will help Mom holiday party prep for an evening out! Ideas for time management & evening bag packing. #MerrySpritzmas #AD

Get Ready for the Holidays – Dress-Up Guide for Kids

There’s only a few times a year when I have veto power on what my kids wear. One of those times is Christmas and you can be sure, I’m making sure the kids look great! Bye-bye sweatpants with holes in the knees – hello, adorable sweater with a snowflake design! Of course the baby never complains so she always has her hair and outfit on point. But during the holidays I can doll her up even more!

I have two teens and two littles, ages 6 and 20 months. My big kids are picking their own outfits, of course. But I still like to choose something special for  them to wear during the holidays. My six year old is in kindergarten this year, which means his first school holiday concert! He’ll need something nice to wear for that event. And then there are several cookie decorating parties, a few family events, a live theater show and a big Christmas party.  The kids will need something to wear for each event, ranging from Christmas casual to dressed up. This is my dress-up guide for getting the kids holiday ready!

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I was compensated for this post.

New Holiday Outfits

Every kid knows that the holidays are the best time of year! Delicious treats, fun activities at school and cozy new clothes. You want the kids to look cute but you don’t want them revolting because something is itchy or “feels weird”. That’s why Gymboree is my holiday clothing go-to. My kids dressed in coordinating Gymboree outfits last year and everyone from the baby to the big kids looked fantastic. And comfortable clothes for kids are important. If they aren’t comfortable, they aren’t going to want to wear it!

You’re going to find adorable and cozy outfits from Gymboree that are easy to wash and wear. Right now holiday styles are 50% off, while supplies last!

The girls in their coordinating Gymboree holiday outfits in 2016

I love these Fair Isle designs where little sister can coordinate with big sister. They are similar but not matchy-matchy.

And the brothers can’t be left out either. I’m a sucker for a holiday plaid shirt and my boys tend to wear one from Gymboree every year! Give them some cool accessories like boots or a beanie and the boys will be happy.

Don’t forget the pajamas! We give our kids a “Night Before Christmas” box with a new holiday book, cocoa and a pair of jammies. These adorable holiday-themed Gymmies are perfect for Christmas morning photos.

Beautiful Hair Care

If you want a head-to-toe look for the kids, start off with a good sudsing! We’re already a fan of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit. I was recently sent hydrating shampoo, conditioner and styling gel in the Fairy Tales Hair Care Curly-Q line. My baby daughter was blessed with amazing curls and I confess, that I’ve not really known how to properly care for them! She usually wakes up with a matted mess that I have to untangle. And then of course, she’s left with a frizzy halo instead of curls.

I have been washing, conditioning and using the styling gel spray on my daughter’s curls and wow, the difference is incredible. Not only are the curls more defined, her hair is also much softer, shinier and easily managed.

Curls by Fairy Tales Hair Care & outfit by Gymboree!

Ingredients like quinoa, rice amino acids, Mururmuru butter, aloe, and avocado butter combine to keep curls bouncy and frizz-free. Products are also sulfate, paraben, phthalate-free as well as gluten, soy, dairy and nut-free.

If you have a curly-headed kiddo, I can’t recommend these products enough. Or try the Tangle Tamers, Sun & Swim or Rosemary Repel hair care lines. Check out Fairy Tales Hair Care for all these products (and the must-have, Lice Good-Bye Survival Kit!)


Dressed Up Head to Toe

I’ve talked about how much we love Pediped shoes here before. My kids have been wearing them since before they could walk! Look at my cute squishy last year, wearing her elegant Pediped originals. They have big kid shoes too, from dress-up styles to cold weather boots.

Pediped shoes are high quality and a great value for how well they are made. Want to save money on Pediped shoes? If you enroll in Ebates, you can get 6% cash back when you shop through the link for Pediped Outlet and 5% cash back through Pediped.


Accessories Round Out the Look

If a full head-to-toe outfit overhaul isn’t in the budget, look to accessories that can dress up your kid’s holiday look. Things like a new hat, holiday themed socks, a neck tie or sparkling stockings can brighten up an older outfit. And kids love using accessories to personalize their style! Shop Gymboree for these on-sale accessories.

 

5 Tips for Looking Your Best in Holiday Family Photos

This shop has been compensated by Schwarzkopf®. #HolidayHairCare #sponsored

The holidays are fast approaching! That means fun with family and friends, as well as parties and pictures that come along with the season. Last year my family and I had a weekend vacation and took this photo together. I loved how cute we all looked…that is until I looked closer and realized how my roots were showing and how GRAY my hair was! Ugh, seeing that photo with my gray hairs made me so upset.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass

I’m all for women who aren’t bothered by the gray. But I still have a toddler and I’m just not ready to go gray yet. Coloring my hair makes me feel so much better about my overall look! I don’t have the time or money for a salon so I’m glad there are at-home kits like Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color that give me a professional style. With family photos coming along with the holidays, I’m sharing my tips for creating a head-to-toe beautiful look that’s perfect for lasting photo memories!

Coordinating family outfits while still putting together a beautiful look for yourself takes some preparation! You can’t just throw on your favorite outfit because you want a cohesive look for the entire family. And you don’t want to look back in ten or twenty years and say, “What in the world was I wearing?!” These are a few ideas for creating a flattering, timeless look for family photos.

1. Pick a Theme Around Your Location

Are you going to be taking photos at the beach? Then knee-high boots and chunky sweaters probably aren’t the best fashion choice. And vice versa if you’re planning a snowy mountain photo shoot wearing all white cotton sundresses! Once you know your photo location, you can decide on a direction for your outfits.

2. Start with One Thing

Who is the most particular person in your family when it comes to getting dressed? Start by choosing their outfit first. Once you have that picked, it’s going to be easier to design a look around the color scheme and style of that first outfit.

Is there an outfit that the rest of the clothes can be built around? A plaid or a pattern with multiple colors is a good place to start. From there you can choose clothing with the colors that coordinate (like this floral dress below).

3. Picking a Color Scheme

To create a cohesive look, choose a color scheme that unites the family and doesn’t clash. Things like blue jeans, khaki and white are neutral and can be mixed in with the colors you choose as you see fit.

For this family photo, I wanted to choose from clothes that we already had in the closet. I started with my husband’s plaid shirt. The rest of the family was easy to match, with navy blue, burgundy, khaki and white.

Photo Credit: Amber Barley Photography

4. Mixing Patterns

While it’s okay to choose similar styles, try to avoid anything too matchy-matchy. For instance, instead of having the kids all wear matching sweaters, choose a similar design in varying colors. As in the family photo above, my son had a plaid shirt in his closet that had similar colors to what his dad is wearing. The plaids aren’t matching but they don’t clash either.

Choose patterns that are classic in design instead of trendy so your photo looks timeless and not dated to a particular time period. Same with hair styles!

You could also choose patterns that are coordinating but not identical. I found this trio of outfits for my little ones a few years ago. They are coordinated because the colors unite them, but are not wearing the same outfit.

5. Making Sure Mom Looks Her Best

After the gray root debacle last year, I’m determined to stay on top of my coloring! Once I’ve decided on a location and color scheme for the family photo shoot, I make sure I have my nails done, make-up ready and hair colored. Naturally, I want my hair to look its best during family photos.

Having Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color on hand has been my secret weapon! I’ve already used Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color several times and love my results. It’s been so easy to use and my hair is shiny and soft, even weeks after coloring.

I found Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color at Walmart. The line offers a good variety of intense colors, including my favorite shade, Chestnut. Be sure to do your patch test before coloring! And of course don’t forget to put on the included gloves to protect your hands.

At-Home Hair Coloring Tips

  • Wear your oldest clothes and use your oldest towel that you don’t mind getting stained.
  • Wear a plastic cape to protect your neck and clothes.
  • Rub a small amount of petroleum jelly around your ears and neckline to prevent staining.
  • I prep my bathroom so I don’t drip hair coloring on the rub or splash it on the shower curtain! I put away everything from off the counter, move the shower curtain and put away the bathmat so no errant drips get on anything.

BEFORE (look at that gray!)

Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color has a pre-treatment included that helps give you an even color result. I love this extra step and experienced no dry ends after coloring. The color is thick and stays put, which makes application so much easier.

I colored my hair about 5 weeks ago with the same color, so I applied to the roots for 20 minutes first. Then I applied color to the rest of my head and waited another ten minutes.

20 minutes on the roots first…

Then 10 minutes on the entire head of hair.

  • Don’t just rely on the clock to keep time. Set a timer!
  • I rinsed off in the kitchen sink so I could use the handheld sprayer and really make sure I removed all the color.
  • Any color stains on the skin? Use a cotton pad and rubbing alcohol to gently remove.

I experienced less hair breakage and loss after using Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color and of course, it gave me 100% gray coverage – yippee! Plus my hair is really soft and silky. I’m going to look so great in my holiday family photos this year (no gray getting me down!)

AFTER! Total gray coverage and beautiful Chestnut color.

Want to try Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color for free? Be sure to click through for the rebate!

Dressing for Success

Just like coloring over my gray helps boost my self-esteem, so does wearing clothes that make me feel and look my best. With every purchase of Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color women are getting a fresh start through a partnership with Dress for Success®.

Dress for Success Worldwide provides women education and mentoring, along with revitalized hair and clothing options. This partnership helps women be as successful as they look! Over one million women have been served by this international organization and its programs. I love how Dress for Success encourages and supplies women with the tools they need for confidence and success!

Coloring your hair at home is a great way to save time and money but how can you assure the best results? Check out these tips (along with ideas for looking your best in holiday family photos!) #HolidayHairCare #ad