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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.

 

Best Games and Toys for Unplugged Kids

I was at the toy store recently, perusing the aisles and looking for something my toddler daughter would enjoy. I walked out of the store empty-handed. First off, I didn’t want to buy her anything that made noise, was electronic or needed batteries. Second, so many of the toys were waaaaay too pricey for what they were! Third, I didn’t want to purchase anything that she’d outgrow in a month or two. I was looking for toys she’d be able to play with for several years and games that weren’t one-and-done.

Toys That Don’t Need Batteries

I went home and looked at the toys that I’ve purchased for my kids over the years, the favorites and the classics. These are items that have proven their worth in gold. These are the toys and games that get frequently pulled out, played with and foster imagination. Some I bought when my teens were babies and my littlest one plays with them today!

This post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Outdoor Toys

Ultimate Frisbee by Wham-O

My big kids are SO into playing frisbee with friends lately! They even play Ultimate Frisbee during P.E. at school. If the frisbee craze hasn’t started in your area, take one to the park and see how many kids ask to join in!


Things that Go

Brio Classic Deluxe Train Set

I bought a Brio train set for my eldest over 15 years ago and it’s still in perfect condition and played with weekly! These classic wooden toys are an investment but quite possibly, your grandchildren will play with them someday too.


Family Games

Apples to Apples Disney Version

Already own and love the original Apples to Apples Game? Try one of the other varieties, including Junior, Disney, Bible or Big Picture. This is a family favorite.


Fostering Imagination

Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia Wooden Dollhouse with Furniture

My dad made me a dollhouse for Christmas the year I turned 8. We would make furniture together with tiny picture frames from magazine pages and food from clay. Those are special memories! This dollhouse is beautiful and simple, the perfect heirloom.


Crafts and Creativity

Crayola Rock Painting Kit

Our community loves to paint and hide rocks for others to find (see this post). And my kids would love this kit that gives them all the tools they need to paint their own designs.


Toys for Builders

Magformers Magnets

Think outside the LEGO box for other creative toys that your builder will love! These magnet sets combine building with movement for maximum creativity.


Water Play

B. Toys Fish & Splish

End the day on a wet note by encouraging water play in the tub. This set is particularly fun because it’s also functional – the toys are also a comb and nail brush.

No batteries needed! These are the best toys for kids that don't need batteries.

Gift Guide – 100 Best Books for Kids of All Ages

Books are the BEST gifts! I love giving books and I love when my kids receive books. The hardest part about giving books as a gift is choosing something that the child hasn’t already read or received. There are the beloved classics, like Good Night, Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Where the Wild Things Are for young kids. And so many kids have already read through the Harry Potter or Little House on the Prairie series. Nobody giving a book as a gift wants to hear, “Oh, I already have this one!” I’ve created a list of the 100 best books for kids that might be off your radar. Perhaps you’ve heard of these titles or maybe even read them as a child yourself but it will be a new discovery for the little ones in your life!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Gift guide to the best books for kids, including a bunch you've never heard of!

Choosing the “Best Books for Kids”

A few years ago my eldest son got stuck on reading a comic book series. Again. And again.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the series. There are some that will say to let kids read whatever interests them because at least they’re reading. However, I liken some books to “junk food”.  Sure, they’re light and easy to read. They go down easy. But then, where’s the substance? What are you reading that’s making you learn or grow? We all enjoy a little junk food but if that’s all your diet is, you’ll need to round it out with MORE.

Not every book has to be life-changing but finding books that literally move your child and make them think, those are the diamonds in the rough!

I took my son to the bookstore and showed him a few of my favorite books that I knew he’d enjoy. He started on the Hatchet series by Gary Paulsen and was completely absorbed with the story. I was able to say, “Told you so!!” As a result he’s been taking bigger stretches on his book choices.

Each of the books suggested are my family favorites. They have been read and owned by my own children, stand the test of time and are age-appropriate. I’ve also included BONUS BOOKS that were suggested by friends as their family favorites!

Gift guide to the best books for kids, including a bunch you've never heard of!

Best Books for Babies and Toddlers

I’ve been reading to my kids since they were newborns. Text can be minimal to allow you to riff off the pictures and simply talk to your little one and make up your own story. Or choose a book with a fun rhyme that will help your toddler pick up words and rhythm. I always choose sturdy board books for babies and toddlers.
Look, Look! – The black and white contrasts with minimal text, making this perfect for newborns.

Jamberry – One of my very favorites, with tons of detail and wonderful read-aloud rhyme.

 

Time for Bed -A bedtime book (or two, or three!) is a baby and toddler must. This one is gentle and sweet.

More Great Books for Babies & Toddlers

Good Night, Gorilla

The Napping House

Dinosaurumpus!

First 100 Board Book Box Set

A Porcupine Named Fluffy

Say Goodnight

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book

Bonus Books for Babies and Toddlers

Corduroy

Giraffes Can’t Dance

God Gave Us You

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean!

On the Night You Were Born

My Heart Is Like a Zoo

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Bear’s Busy Family

Big Red Barn

Snuggle Puppy!

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

Cheep! Cheep!


Read-Aloud Books for Preschoolers

Preschoolers love to cuddle up and read together. They are looking for “more to the story” at this age though a fun read-aloud with fantastic pictures and rhyme is always welcome too!

When The Wind Stops – For that preschooler who wants to know, “Why?”, this book about days and seasons and beginnings and endings is gorgeous and perfect.

“The Way I Feel” Library – My mother-in-law bought these for my eldest son when he was young. They were such a Godsend when he was struggling with emotions. We’d snuggle together, read and discuss. I’ve kept them in our library for the other kids too, they are such important books.

Beatrix Potter the Complete Tales – So you may have read Peter Rabbit before, but what about Jeremy Fisher, The Tailor of Gloucester and my favorite, the Tale of Two Bad Mice? These soft illustrations and story lines are ideal for preschoolers (Wow, do those little animals get into mischief, kids LOVE that!)

Other Books We Love for Preschoolers

The Book with No Pictures

My Book About Me

Miss Suzy

Read With Dick and Jane – Jump & Run

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear

Quick As a Cricket

Mix It Up!

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

Llama Llama’s Little Library

Mother Mother I Want Another

Bonus Books for Preschoolers (suggested by family & friends)

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Good Night, Little Dragons

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

Madeline

Dragons Love Tacos

I Love You, Stinky Face

Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator!

Press Here

Thelma the Unicorn

The Prince Won’t Go to Bed!

The Day the Crayons Quit

Skippyjon Jones


Great Books for Beginning Readers

Beginning readers tend to waffle between wanting to read a little and still wanting to be read to. I’m suggesting a mix of beginning chapter books, longer read-together chapter books and picture books. Many beginning readers still find pictures very important to the story experience.

Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon – This was the first read-aloud chapter book I read to my boys. It’s a fantastic story of imagination, wit and creativity. My kids have read it alone to themselves again when they were solid readers.

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch – My youngest son pulled this off the shelf recently and his teenage brother gushed, “I LOVE that book!” The sentiment about seeing & caring for others is sweet (even when it’s not Valentine’s Day).

 

 

 

Mr. Putter & Tabby series – I can admit it. Whenever we get a new Mr. Putter and Tabby book I’m on the edge of my seat with excitement about what silliness will happen with this creaky old man and his elderly cat. They are so fun to read (and how many books for little kids celebrate the elderly?!)

Other Wonderful Books for Beginning Readers

Miss Twiggley’s Tree

Badger’s Parting Gifts

Johnny Appleseed

Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury

Good Night, Good Knight

Wolf Story

The Little House

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything

Henry and Mudge Ready-to-Read Collection

 

Bonus Books for Beginning Readers (suggested by family & friends)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Complete Series

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Iggy Peck, Architect

The Lorax

Leo the Late Bloomer

How I Became a Pirate

In the Night Kitchen

The Stranger

Junkyard Wonders

Galactic Hot Dogs Collection

The Last Kids on Earth


Engaging Books for Elementary

Elementary aged kids enjoy a healthy mix of fiction and non-fiction. Non-fiction must to have engaging photos and interesting text that’s easy to comprehend.

All-of-a-Kind Family – One of my most favorite book series as a child, I devoured these stories about 5 diverse sisters living in NYC at the turn of the century. So much charm and spunk, you’ll love each character (it also is a fantastic series about Jewish culture and holidays).

 

DK Eyewitness Books – There’s a DK Eyewitness book for just about every topic on Earth!! Seriously, if your child has an interest in something whether it be Castles in Ireland, Sportfishing, Elephanits, Astronomy or the American Revolution, you can find it. And they’ll love these amazingly detailed books with tons of images.

 

 

My Side of the Mountain Trilogy- I never knew there was more than one book after My Side of the Mountain, but my son found them and was so absorbed by the continued story line. My Side of the Mountain is followed up by On the Far Side of the Mountain and Frightful’s Mountain.

More Great Books for Beginning Readers

Material World: A Global Family Portrait

The Disney Book

Ella Enchanted

The Way Things Work Now

Barefoot Books World Atlas

Look-Alikes: The More You Look, the More You See!

A Street Through Time

Bunnicula in a Box

Bonus Books for Elementary (suggested by family & friends)

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done

Smile and Sisters: The Box Set

Nancy Drew Diaries Supersleuth Collection: Curse of the Arctic Star; Strangers on a Train; Mystery of the Midnight Rider; Once Upon a Thriller; … Clue at Black Creek Farm; A Script for Danger

Absolutely Almost

The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog (Hank the Cowdog (Quality))

Peter and the Starcatchers


Upper Ages

Kids reading in the upper age category crave compelling story lines that transport them to a different part of the world, an old (or future) era or a completely new realm. I tried to choose titles that my own tween/teens didn’t read with their class at school.

The Cay – I read and reread this book a dozen times growing up. I just loved the story of this castaway boy and the man he’s been lost at sea with.

The Gary Paulsen Collection – I’d read Hatchet (the first in this collection) and had recommended it to my son. He’s since read the entire collection in the series as well as many other Gary Paulsen stories.

 

 

 

Rebecca – This is a classic but unlikely that your teen has ever read or even heard of it. Filled with intrigue, mystery and secrets, it’s a page-turner!

 

Other Must-Read Books for Upper Ages

Cabin on Trouble Creek

Warriors Box Set: Volumes 1 to 6: The Complete First Series

Julie of the Wolves

The Ranger’s Apprentice Collection

Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind

Kingdom Keepers Boxed Set

Bonus Books for Upper Ages (suggested by family & friends)

 

Brotherband Chronicles (7 Book Series)

Inheritance Cycle 4-Book Paperback Boxed Set (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, In)

I Survived Collector’s Toolbox

Masterminds

The Lunar Chronicles Boxed Set: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Winter

Gifts for Father’s Day that Dads Really Want!

What are the gifts for Father's Day that Dads really want to receive?

Stop right there with the tie. Put down the funny patterned boxer shorts. And a money clip? No, thank you. Most Dads don’t really want any of those gifts for Father’s Day. So what does Dad want? Besides sleeping in and full control of the television remote, these are the gifts for Father’s Day that will make Dad happy!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through these links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Gifts for Father’s Day

I’ll be honest, we don’t usually buy my husband anything for Father’s Day. He’s really hard to please and always says he doesn’t “need anything”. I thought hard about the things that would make him happy and this is the bomb list that would totally make his day. (I also asked him specifically what he’d like to receive!) Check out these gifts for Father’s Day that will truly make him smile.

Shower Products That Aren’t Girly

My husband not-so-secretly loves a good soap. He wants to get the grime, sweat and stink off but he doesn’t want an overpowering scent after he gets out of the shower. He’s partial to the hard-milled natural and organic soap bars from the market. I think he’d really enjoy these vegan soaps that are more “manly” scented – Beer Soap Gift Set of 4 Bars and Three-Pack of Activated Charcoal Bar Soap, Handmade & Natural Vegan Soap

   

Key Chain That Helps Dad Locate His Keys (and Wallet) (and Phone)

My husband is forever misplacing things. They’re not LOST he says, he just can’t remember where he last set them down. I’m totally buying him these! The slim design means you can slip them inside your wallet or hook them to a key ring. Use the app on your phone to send a message to the Tile tracker and a loud noise will sound so Dad can find his stuff. Can’t find his phone? Press one of the Tile trackers and his phone will ring (even if it’s on silent mode). – Tile Mate & Slim Combo 4-Pack

Comfy Lounging Clothes

As soon as my husband comes home he takes off his heavy work pants, showers and slips into comfy clothes. It’s flannel in chilly weather and knit when it’s warmer. He likes the ComfortSoft brand because they have a comfortable drawstring. Plain Tagless Hanes tees are a favorite as well –Hanes Men’s Cotton ComfortSoft Printed Knit Pants and Hanes Men’s ComfortSoft Tagless Tees.

Cell Phone Charger (Because He Almost Always Forgets to Plug in His Phone)

I plug my husband’s cell phone into the charger every night before I go to bed. He’s an early riser and usually heads to bed without remembering to plug in the phone. If I’m not home, he doesn’t always remember to charge before going to bed. He needs this charger to keep in his glove box so he’ll be able to recharge on his work lunch break!-  Anker PowerCore 10000

Something That Lets Him Jump into Summer

My husband loves the water (while I’m more of a land-lubber). I do enjoy sitting pool side though, watching him swim and play with the kids! I buy Lands’ End swimwear for all of us, Dad included. And a swim tee means I don’t have to use half a bottle of sunscreen lotioning his back! – Lands’ End Men’s Swim Trunks and Swim Tee

Books with Subjects that Your Guy Likes

My husband isn’t a reader. However there are a few subjects he enjoys that I think he’d crack open a book for. Think about your husband’s favorite interests (mine loves exercise, being outdoors and cleaning…yes, really!).

The Men’s Fitness Exercise Bible: 101 Best Workouts to Build Muscle, Burn Fat, and Sculpt Your Best Body Ever!, Best of The Total Outdoorsman: 508 Skills: Featuring Field & Stream’s All-Time Greatest Hints and Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home.

  

Polarized Sunglasses

This is the most expensive item on the list but if well cared for, a good pair of sunglasses can last a long time. The Maui Jim brand are my husband’s favorite. He says they are very comfortable and stay on his face, even when he leans forward. He liked the polarized lenses (as a fisherman, he can see clearly past the water glare at the fish in the water) –Maui Jim – Five Caves – Polarized Lenses

Something Yummy That Dad Doesn’t Have to Share (Unless He Wants To!)

My husband has a chocolate sweet tooth! Chocolate is one of his few indulgences and See’s Candies is his favorite. He prefers the dark chocolate so I graciously take care of the milk chocolate candies so he can just eat the dark 🙂 – See’s Candies Father’s Day Gifts

 
For more Father’s Day gift ideas,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Holiday Gift Guide: Practical (But Fun!) Disney Gifts for Kids

Holiday Gift Guide: Practical (But Fun!) Disney Gifts for Kids

I’m all for fun, especially at Christmas, but I still like to purchase gifts for my kids that they’ll need and want! Nothing that will be “bottom of the toy box” for me; I want their gifts to be well used and well loved. These are my practical (but still fun!) Disney gifts for kids.

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing some ideas to get you started on your holiday shopping.


Holiday Gift Guide – Practical (But Fun!) Disney Gifts for Kids

Please note that I have affiliate links in this post. If you click and make a purchase, you help support me in a small financial way (thank you!)

Children’s Mealtime Items

My little ones always loved having their own set of dishes, cups and utensils that the big kids or grown ups didn’t use. Over the years I’ve found the best brand that holds up nicely over the years are made by Zak! Designs. We’ve had an it’s a small world set for the last 4 years and it still looks new (and I even run it through the dishwasher).

Zak’s Small World Round Divided Plates (Set of 2)

From left to right:

Zak! Designs Cars 3 Piece Meal Set

Zak Designs Disney Pixar Inside Out 3-Piece Plate, Bowl, and Tumbler Mealtime Set

Zak! Designs Mealtime Set-Disney Princess Sofia The First 6-Piece Set.

The addition of a place mat and utensils rounds out the set for complete meal-time fun!

Zak Design “Disney Princess” Kids Meal Time Plastic Placemat

Star Wars Lightsaber Flatware Utensil Set (Includes Luke Fork, Yoda Spoon, and Vader Knife)

Children’s Bedtime

If you know your kids need a bedding refresh, save the purchase and gift them a new bedding set for the holidays. You can go full out with a comforter, sheet set and pillows or piece it out as needed. A new pillowcase with a favorite Disney character (along with a new pillow) is always a welcome gift!

Disney Lion Guard Prideland Adventures 4 Piece Toddler Bedding Set

From left to right:

Disney Castle Custom Pillowcase

Disney/Pixar Finding Dory Pillowcase

4pc Disney Mickey Mouse Full Bed Sheet Set Chevron and Polka Dots

 

What other fun Disney touches could you add to their bedroom? How about a decorative pillow, pajamas or a lamp!

From left to right:

Disney Monster U Decorative Pillow

Disney Frozen Elsa Girl Nightgown Pajama

Disney Parks Exclusive Beauty and the Beast Light-Up Lumiere Candlestick Figure

 

And for sleepover fun, how about a new sleeping bag, nightlight and bedroom tent!

From left to right:
Disney Princess Little Mermaid Ariel Shimmer and Gleam Slumber-Bag

Disney Finding Dory 2-in-1 Projector and Night Light

Disney Princess Pop Up Castle Tent

Vacation Needs

Headed out on a magical vacation? The holidays is the best time to gift the kids with things they’ll need for the trip. Tweens and teen girls (and maybe even mom!) would love a Disney themed LeSportSac bag for holding all their vacation needs for a day in the Park.

LeSportsac Small Cleo Cross-Body Handbag, Mickey Loves Minnie

Consider other vacation items, like sunglasses, lip balm or a hat. These made nice stocking stuffers too!

From left to right: 

Disney Store Exclusive R2-D2 Sunglasses for Kids – Star Wars

Disney / Pixar Inside Out Inside Out Lip Balm Set

Big Hero Six Baymax Beanie Laplander

Toiletries

Toiletries are great stocking stuffers and my preschooler loves the Disney Magic Timer app. Upload the app to your smart phone or tablet and then with the purchase of specially marked toothbrushes, tooth paste and mouthwashs you’ll receive special content that will encourage longer brushing!

3pc Star Wars Oral Hygiene Set

3pc Disney Frozen Oral Hygiene Set

For more Holiday Gift Guides,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Black | Holiday Gift Guides Loop:

Practical Christmas Gifts that Make it Easier to DIY

Practical Christmas Gifts that Make it Easier to DIY

I think people like practical Christmas gifts more than they like to admit. After all there are only so many sweaters or candles a girl can receive, right? I prefer to receive presents that I can use all year-round. Yes, practical Christmas gifts can be fun too, because if you enjoy DIY, having the right tools on hand can make your life so much easier and you can save money in the long run, too.


For the at-home baker

I received a Kitchenaid mixer 15 years ago as a Christmas gift and use it several times a week. I’ve recently gotten in to making my own artisan bread dough and the Kitchenaid makes it a cinch. Slide on the bread hook…no kneading necessary and no floury mess!

Practical Christmas Gifts that Make it Easier to DIY

My KitchenAid is plain white but I’m partial to this one in “sea glass”. What a gorgeous statement that makes on the kitchen counter!


For the paper crafter

I adore my HP Printer. And HP Instant Ink is a life saver, truly. Before I had my printer, I was having to go to the copy store anytime I needed something scanned or printed out, which was such a hassle (especially when we were trying to buy our house and were constantly needing to send paperwork). We finally bought an HP Printer and I love having access to the scanner as well as free coloring and activity page printables for the kids, the ability to print photos and pretty much print whatever and whenever!

hpsnapshots

HP Snapshots

Then I found out about HP Instant Ink and I no longer feel like I have to scrimp on what gets printed. My printer is in contact with HP and I’m automatically sent a new ink cartridge before my printer runs out. The cost is so much better than the ink refills at the copy shop, so it’s a definite win-win. And if you sign up now, you’ll receive 6 months for free!

This post is part of a sponsored campaign with MomSelect. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


For the seamstress

I bought myself a very nice sewing machine about ten years ago. I’ve been selling my sewn items on Etsy for a while and needed something that made my products look more professional. My Husqvarna Sapphire sewing machine has a foot pedal that allows me to tap and lift and lower the presser foot, making applique so much easier and quicker. But what about the inner seams of my sewn clothing? And how about sewing with knit fabrics?

Practical Christmas Gifts that Make it Easier to DIY

Minnie shirt, sewn by me and finished off with a serged edge inside (and along hem)

Look inside your store-bought tee and see the serged edge that covers the raw seam? A Babylock Serger Machine will give that polished look to your clothes instead of a raw seam that unravels and frays in the wash. And it makes sewing with knit fabrics so easy because of the stretchabilty of the serged edge. With automatic tension and jet air threading, it makes sewing so much fun without the stress. Expensive? Yep…but if you’re a serious seamstress, having the Babylock is fantastic. I’ve had mine for 8 years and it’s never needed servicing.


For the photographer

I’ve had my Canon Rebel XTI for ten years and have been able to take great looking photos over the years. I’ve never paid for a professional photo shoot because I have a nice camera that I can use to capture special occasional. But I’m ready for a change. The Canon is perfect for outdoor shots, especially under open shade. But I’m always disappointed with my indoor shots because it doesn’t shoot well in low light. In fact, my cell phone takes better indoor shots than my Canon. Also my Canon is big and heavy, which gets to be hard to carry around when we’re at amusement parks.

Taken with my Canon Rebel Xti

Taken with my Canon Rebel Xti

I’ve read some reviews and have been looking at the Sony DSC-RX100/B 20.2 MP Digital Camera. It has great views for shooting in low light and is lightweight and compact. Looks like a great camera to take to Disney!


For the cook

It’s so easy to get overly “gadgety” in the kitchen. All those little things are cool and some can be very useful but then you have to find a place to store them (and remember to use them!) I prefer to receive a really great cookbook. Having new recipes helps things stay fresh and fun in the kitchen. Here are a few of my favorites (some that I’ve borrowed from the library and can’t wait to add to my home collection).

The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking

Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food

Food Network Magazine Great Easy Meals: 250 Fun & Fast Recipes

    


For the social media maven

Several years ago my husband and I took the kids to Disneyland and by 3 pm, both of us had totally dead batteries on our cell phones. Too much photo taking and uploading to social media at the beginning of the day and we were left without any cell power. I did some research online and bought a small, compact charging device. It’s fine for when it’s just me and I need to boost mid-day but it’s not enough juice to charge both phones. After chatting with a social media friend, she showed me something similar to this EasyAcc Monster Power Bank. This thing can charge like crazy so there is no worries about your cell phone running out of power when you’re snapping pictures, taking video, tweeting or sharing on Facebook.


What are your favorite practical gifts? Share with us in the comments!

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Holiday Gift Guide – Disney-inspired Gifts for Kids Under 5

Holiday Gift Guide - Disney-inspired Gifts for Kids Under 5

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing our holiday gift guides.


There are thousands of Disney-inspired gifts for kids under five years old. So how do you know what will make the best gift for your little ones? When buying gifts, there are several things to consider: age appropriateness, probable longevity of the item and quality. And an important thing to me, practicality. Sure, those 3 foot tall dolls are cute, but how often will it be played with? Yes, that awesome, hot new toy is cool but if it’s over $100 how many times will it be used with to make it worth the value?

I love to think outside the box for my kids and buy them things that they’ll be able to use and enjoy over several years and that won’t end up at the bottom of the toy bin next week. Having something that is timeless and high quality is important too, especially if you have more than one child and the item could be handed down to the next child in time.

Here are my choices for the best Disney-inspired gifts for kids under 5, starting with babies. I’ll be having a little girl next year and already thinking of the sweet Disney-themed items I’ll be able to buy for her! Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.


Disney Gifts for Babies

What does baby love? Something useful like a teether or a blankie? Something fun like wooden blocks! Something soothing like a soundtrack of lullabies. And when all else fails, you can’t go wrong with an adorable outfit that dresses baby like a princess or Winnie the Pooh!

NUK Disney Mickey Mouse Teether (Amazon), Dumbo Piggy Bank (DisneyStore), Wooden Castle Blocks for Baby by Melissa & Doug (DisneyStore)

 Minnie Mouse Plush Blankie (DisneyStore), Disney Baby Lullaby (Amazon)

 

Winnie the Pooh Hooded Romper (DisneyStore), Disney Minnie Mouse Dress Black Shoes (Amazon), Disney Baby Cinderella Dress Set (Amazon), Mickey bibs (DisneyStore)

 


Reading

Books are one of my favorite gifts to give because they are truly enjoyed all year round by my little ones. We own the Cars First Look & Find and it’s a great conversation starter. Reading is also the perfect way to snuggle up with them at bedtime.

Disney Junior Official Magazine (Amazon), Frozen Five Minute Stories (DisneyStore)

  

Disney-Pixar Inside Box of Mixed Emotions (DisneyStore), Cars First Look & Find (DisneyStore), Winnie the Pooh’s Giant Lift-the-Flap Book (DisneyStore)


Pajamas

I’m all for giving new pajamas at Christmas. Often times it’s a gift I let my kids open on Christmas Eve so they have a crisp, new pair to wear in their Christmas morning photos!

Mickey Mouse PJ Pals and Doc McStuffins Pajama Set (both from The Disney Store)

Toy Story – Woody and Buzz Pajama Set (Amazon), Elsa Nightgown (DisneyStore), Cars Lightning McQueen Pajamas (Amazon)

  


Meal Time

We own Zak Designs melamine plates and bowls and they hold up so well over the years, even with dishwasher use. And truly, can you ever have enough cups for little ones?

Zak Designs 5-Piece Princess Mealtime Serveware Set & Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 3 Piece Mealtime Dinnerware Set (both from Amazon)

 

Minnie Mouse Cup and Olaf Tumbler (both from DisneyStore), Disney Junior Miles From Tomorrowland Folding Flatware Set (Amazon)


Travel for Kids

Going on a trip to a Magical location? Or just to Grandma’s house for the night? Little kids love to tote their own necessities in Disney style.

Miles from Tomorrowland Light-Up Rolling Luggage and Anna & Elsa Rolling Luggage (both from DisneyStore)

Disney Princesses Plush Travel Pillow and Disney Mickey Backpack (both from Amazon)

Disney Sofia the First Toddler Sleepover Slumber Set with Tote Bag and Inside Out Slumber Bag in Drawstring Bag (both from Amazon)


Bedroom Decor

Disney Jake and The Pirates Bed Tent (Amazon), Sully Plush Pillow, 2-pack Disney Cinderella Pillowcases Night Sparkles Bed Accessories (Amazon)

 

Ariel personalized blanket (DisneyStore),  Up House artwork (Vivid Editions)

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For more holiday gift options,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Black | Holiday Gift Guides Loop:

What are your favorite items to gift to kids under five years old? Share below in the comments!

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Holiday Shopping Guide – Gifts for Every Disney Fan in Your Life!

Disney lovers simply love receiving Disney-themed gifts! Here is a collection of items that are sure to be appreciated by the Disney fans in your life.

Holiday Gift Guide - Gifts for Every Disney Fan in Your Life!


Disney Treats for the Entire Family

Disney’s Family Storybook Collection: 75 Fables for Living, Loving & Learning

Cinderella Castle Fleece Throw

Disney Pictopia-Family Trivia Game

       


For those who love Classic Mickey

Appliqued Mickey tee with personalization

Disney Golden Years Mickey Mouse Rotator Black Watch

Classic Mickey Mouse Pillow

 


For the Princess in Your Family

The Fairest in all the Land Storybook Pendant

Elsa hooded bath towel

Disney Princess Doll Collection 

      


For Young Adventurers

Vinylmation Pirates of the Caribbean Set

Indiana Jones DIY “Grail Diary” 

The Force Duffle Bag

        


For the Men who Love Disney

Disney Villains Men’s Tee

Gaston’s Tavern Wall Sign

Giclee Printed Star Tours Attraction Poster

 


For the Ladies who Love Disney

Disneyland smashed quarter Tinkerbell bracelet

Sea Salt & Sea Marine Spa Collection

Walter & Rosie Disney-inspired scented candles

 


Disney Kitchen Delights

Chef Mickey Cookbook

Queen of Hearts Apron

Gourmet Mickey Mouse Dessert Plate Set


Minnie Lovers

Dotty about Dancing Slingback Wedge

Mickey & Minnie Downtown Crossbody Dooney & Burke

Minnie red, white and black chevron and dots infinity scarf

             


For the Small World set

Candyland – Disney theme Park Edition

Giclee printed it’s a small world attraction poster

Mickey Feeding Set

 


For Teens

Beauty & the Beast Stained Glass Art Shirt

Beautifully Disney nail appliques – Tangled Web 

Peter Pan Mermaids Pillow Cover


For those who think Christmas is a Nightmare

Nightmare Before Christmas pajama pants

Jack Skellington appliqued and personalized tee

Ballcap

      


For those Going on a Disney Vacation

Crocs McQueen 

Passporter for Walt Disney World

Mickey Mouse Luggage


Some of the clickable links contained in this post are affiliate links.

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