Global Winter Wonderland Review – Holiday Show in San Diego

Have you heard of the Global Winter Wonderland? This limited-time holiday event is new to San Diego this year. The slick website shows all the activities that occur during a night at Global Winter Wonderland – Incredible, colorful and enormous lanterns representing landmarks from around the world. Performances by the talented Circus of Light. A full carnival with rides for a variety of ages. International cuisine. And don’t forget about visiting with Santa in his village! Just looking at the photographs of the event that has taken place in other cities is enough to give me goosebumps! Did the event live up to the hype? Find out in my honest review.

My family and I were hosted for a special media night event. No other compensation has been offered and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Lanterns Celebrating Holidays Around the World

Almost 100 artisans are in San Diego to design and sew by hand the lantern displays. This event features the largest display of traditional Chinese lanterns outside of China. And they are really quite beautiful. Many of the large lanterns have walkways to allow guests passage right through.

Global Winter Wonderland Review on this new Holiday Show in San Diego

I have no idea when they started constructing the lanterns for this event but the process seems painstakingly slow. Everything from the handcrafted frames, application of the silk to the hand-painting is a long process. On the night of our visit (2 nights before the grand opening), they weren’t finished. About 60% of the displays were lit for media to see. Some lanterns were completed like the luminescent Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.

Global Winter Wonderland Review on this new Holiday Show in San Diego

The Eiffel Tower structure was built but didn’t have the fabric yet. And some of the displays were still laying on the ground, awaiting assembly. During the two hours of the event, workers stayed busy (even roto-hammering into the concrete just feet from us). I’m sure that with the opening on Nov 19th they were frantic to complete but it was still odd to have them seemingly so far from completion.

Circus of Light

Showing several times during each night, this group of talented performers includes acrobats, contortionists and fire dancers from Africa, China and Europe. The show is touted as hosting Cirque du Soleil-level performances. We were treated to a brief show on a smaller stage (the large scale stage that will host the show wasn’t completed yet). The acrobats were fun and enthusiastic and we enjoyed the part of the show that we saw. I’m not sure I’d go as far as to say Cirque du Soleil-level (at least on what we witnessed) but it was enjoyable.

Global Winter Wonderland Review on this new Holiday Show in San Diego

International Foods

On the night of our visit we were able to sample a few of the foods that will be available during the event, including teriyaki chicken skewers, corn with all the fixings and cheeseburger sliders. There were also food trucks offering more well-rounded platters with veggies and sides. I wouldn’t necessarily call the foods “international cuisine”, but more like the usual fair food offerings. You’ll find the standards too (cotton candy, kettle corn, hot dogs). I’d suggest eating dinner ahead of time and then possibly indulge with dessert or a snack during the event.

Global Winter Wonderland Review on this new Holiday Show in San Diego

Rides & Games

For most kids, the brightly lit carnival rides are the highlight of this event. These are the typical attractions you’d find at any fair or carnival (The Zipper, Ferris wheel, Super Slide, carousel). There are 35 carnival rides, ranging from 3-5 tickets. At $1.25 per ticket, this is guaranteed to be a spendy part of the visit. With thrill rides costing $6.25 per person to ride, this is certainly something to budget for when planning your evening.

Visiting Global Winter Wonderland

SDCCU Stadium (formerly Qualcomm)

Open select nights from November 19th, 2017 to January 7th, 2018

  • Admission $22
  • Children & Seniors $19
  • There is also a season pass available for Adults at $49 and children/seniors at $44
  • Carnival Ride tickets $1.25 (each ride takes 3-5 tickets)  The website mentions an unlimited ride wristband but there is no place to purchase on the site so I’m not sure of the cost.
  • Parking fee is $10 per car, cash only
  • Discount tickets can be purchase ahead of time at Walgreens & through Groupon
  • You may bring in a stroller (there are no stroller rentals)
  • No outside food

Global Winter Wonderland Review on this new Holiday Show in San Diego

Global Winter Wonderland Review

This event is guaranteed to draw lots of crowds. The event is bright and colorful and looks fantastic in photographs and on the website. For my family, we found the event to be a bit of a let-down. Perhaps it’s because we attended the media event and many of the attractions were not yet completed. The construction around us was definitely a distraction (my electrician husband was particularly upset at seeing open and unattended electrical panels where there were children walking around). I’m hoping that all those issues get squared away before the event opens to the general public.

Go in knowing that while the lanterns are unique and creative, the cost of admission alone for viewing the lanterns and the Circus of Light show is quite high. Everything else from food to rides will cost you a considerable amount on top of the admission.

12 Budget-Friendly Things to Do With the Kids on Winter Break

Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break?

The winter break is upon us and that means two full weeks with the kids at home. It can either be two weeks of fun or two weeks of hearing, “I’m BORED” 473 times a day! This year I’m determined to be prepared with a calendar of activities to keep boredom at bay without breaking my holiday budget. Here are 12 budget-friendly things to do with your kids on winter break!

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

 Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break? Check out this budget-friendly list of 12 things to do with kids on winter break.


Seasonal Tabletop Craft Decor

Add a bit of joy to the house with a simple craft. These would be so pretty decorating a tabletop as a centerpiece. I plan on making these with the kids on winter break. We have pine trees lining our street so finding them will be easy enough but if you don’t have them readily available, they are sold online. To create your own pinecone centerpiece you’ll need Ponderosa Pine Cones, White Acrylic Paint, Small Clay Pots and Gold Stars.

12 Budget-Friendly Things to Do With the Kids on Winter Break

Photo Credit & Link from Town & Country Living

Holiday Titles from the Library

We have a small collection of holiday books and movies that we pull out during this time of year. Pick up a few new seasonal story books, music CDs or DVDs from the library for entertainment this holiday. You can often reserve them in advance online as well.

Pajama Day

Declare a PJ Day! Stack up all those holiday books and pile the pillows and blankets on the floor in the living room for a cozy day in your pajamas. Make a special treat like popcorn or Rice Krispy treats served with cocoa and marshmallows and let everyone lounge and relax.


Gymboree Gymmies come in the cutest holiday patterns!

Holiday Art Project

Last year my daughter made this in school. Give each child a canvas, acrylic paints and a brush and let them create their own winter scene that you can pull out with the decorations each year. To make your own painting you’ll need a Stretched Canvas, Acrylic Paint Set, Paint Brush Set and Crafting Plastic Drop Cloth

 Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break? Check out this budget-friendly list of 12 things to do with kids on winter break.

Window Scenes

When I was a girl my grandparents let us us acrylic paints on the inside of the living room windows to create a holiday scene. I wish I had a picture to show you! It was a highlight of our season and we painted new scenes every year. My other grandmother had the cutest retro window clings and we’d decorate with those and rearrange them throughout the season. Try these adorable seasonal window decor ideas- White Snowflakes Window Clings,  Crayola Washable Window Markers, Super Window Sticker Art

Movie Marathon

Pile up a stack of those Christmas movies and work your way through them. I recently picked up A Christmas Story which my kids hadn’t seen but is one of my absolute favorites! White Christmas is my 13-yr old’s holiday favorite and it’s streaming on Netflix right now. My preschooler loves The Polar Express so we’ve already seen that one several times this year!

Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break? Check out this budget-friendly list of 12 things to do with kids on winter break.

Cut Snowflakes

Coffee filter snowflakes are easy for older kids to make and look so pretty taped to a window or strung in a garland. Cheap and easy entertainment and decor in one! To make this craft you’ll need Coffee Filters and Titanium Softgrip Detail Scissors


Coffee Filter Ornament craft and image from The Pink Couch

Snuggly Knotted Blanket Making

This one is easy enough for older kids to make on their own. Consider crafting a few as gifts or to donate. You’ll need a good, sharp pair of scissors because it require quite a bit of cutting. But the cozy soft blanket you’ll have at the end is worth it! You’ll need Winter Fleece Fabric by the yard and Fabric Scissors with Comfort Grip


Knotted blanket tutorial and image from Sewlicious Home Decor

Nature Walk

Kids on winter break get stir crazy from being cooped up inside. Bundle up and head outside for some fresh air and a blast of nature! I did a quick search on Pinterest and found a free printable for a Winter Adventure Hunt from Montessori Nature.

Cookie Baking

Most kids love to help in the kitchen! Here are a few easy kid-friendly recipes, including one of my own for oatmeal peanut butter cookies. Try Christmas Crinkle Cookies, Chocolate Thumbprints or Christmas Snowballs. Baking items you may need are Holiday Metal Cookie Cutters, Mini Squeeze Bottles, Meringue Powder for royal icing and Christmas Holiday Sprinkles.

If cut-out sugar cookies are your thing, I highly recommend this recipe from SweetSugarBelle that uses powdered (confectioners sugar) instead of granulated. These cookies are melt-in-your-mouth yummy! This is also where you’ll find the perfect recipe and tutorials for making royal icing. You might not be able to decorate quite as fantastically detailed as she does, but here is some inspiration! Seriously, are those too cute to eat or what?!


Image credit and recipe from Sweet Sugarbelle

Wrapping Paper Games

If you haven’t finished up wrapping gifts, let your kids have at the tape and paper and allow them to wrap gifts for friends and family. When they’re done with the paper, the cardboard tubes can be used for several things. One Christmas, my Dad painted them red and white striped like a candy cane and slipped them around metal stair railings for a cute decoration. Of course, my boys always use the wrapping paper tubes as mock light sabers!


Gingerbread House Decorating

A friend of mine has the Candy Cottage Gingerbread House which looks like it’s made of cookie but is really plastic. All you need is your own icing and candy and you can decorate the house without risk of it toppling over! Some great candy suggestions are TWIZZLERS Christmas PULL ‘N’ PEEL Candy, Necco Wafers, Star Brites Peppermint Starlight Mints and Sixlets.

I love the “gingerbread” house made of graham crackers. Did you know that Honey Maid actually makes gingerbread crackers and chocolate grahams? This is a great petite size that kids can tackle on their own and enjoy the snack when they’re done!


Image from Our Best Bites.

How will you be spending winter break with the kids? Share with me in the comments!


Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

How to Add a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

How to Add a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Christmas is a magical time, of course. And what makes it even more sweet is adding a touch of Disney magic to your holidays. Whether it’s in the house decorations, the Christmas tree or even in the kitchen, Disney fan welcome a generous helping of pixie dust in everything they do! Here are my ideas for adding Disney magic to your Christmas.

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

Disney Details for the Home

Fill the house with Christmas cheer, Disney-style! This personalized Christmas tree skirt has a cute retro look. These clever Holiday Mugs hold milk and have a slot underneath for your cookie! And when it’s time to cuddle up with a favorite movie, this Mickey & Minnie Fleece Throw will keep you cozy.



Deck the Tree with Disney Ornaments

We’ve been collecting Disney ornaments for the Christmas tree since I was a little girl. It’s fun to pick them up while on vacation as a memento of your trip. Choose an ornament that reminds you of a special time (like the first spin on the Mad Tea Party teacups) or holds a cherished photo from that time you met your first Disney princess. I adore this Fantasyland Castle Ornament, a perfect blend of the parks along with good cheer for the holidays!

Hallmark Teacup for Two Mickey and Minnie Mouse Ornament and Hallmark 2016 Disney Princesses Photo Holder Holiday Ornament

Bake Disney-inspired Holiday Treats

Make anything Mickey shaped or that has Mouse Ears and my kids think it’s fantastic! Here are some simple recipes that can be tweaked just a bit to make them “Disney” including these Mouse Ears Snowman Cookies from and Mouseketeer Gingerbread Cookies from the Disney Food Blog. It wouldn’t be too difficult to make Rice Krispies treats like this Mickey shaped one I had at the Disneyland Resort. I have more Christmas recipe ideas on this post.

Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas      Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Cook up Disney Magic in the Kitchen

This cookbook is very merry and full of Disney fun for the holidays! A Merry Christmas Cookbook is geared for kids to cook under adult supervision with holiday recipes inspired by favorite characters. For more discerning tastes, try the The Ultimate Disney World Cookbook with over 300 recipes from Disney parks restaurants. Serve up those Disney delights (or cookies for Santa!) on these adorable Mickey & Friends Plates from the DisneyStore.


Decorate the Yard Top to Bottom

Bright and colorful, these Disney yard decorations let everyone in the neighborhood know your love for the Mouse! We love to walk through our neighborhood and look at the holiday decorations and my kids always love when someone has Disney inspired decor. I want one of these Disney Mickey Mouse Ears LightShow Swirling Multicolor LED Christmas Spotlight Projectors so much! Paired with the Inflatable LED Mickey and Minnie’s Sled Scene, you’ll have a house that all the kids will want to see each night. Hang this cheery winter Disney Parks Holiday flag all winter long!

How do you add Disney magic to your Christmas? Share with me in the comments!


Celebrating Christmas at Disneyland Resort

The Christmas season is a beautiful time of year and no better place in my opinion, to celebrate it than at Disneyland! From the dazzling holiday decor, spectacular entertainment, special holiday rides and attractions, wow! Christmas at Disneyland is pure magic. And you can still have all the usual Christmas fun, from presents to Santa!

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

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Practical Pre-Vacation Christmas at Disneyland Advice

Planning a visit to Disneyland during the holiday season requires a certain amount of preparation that you might not need other times of the year. Normally you can just “wing it” at Disneyland but during the holidays you’ll definitely need to plan a bit more in regards to full-service dining, FastPasses and viewing shows.

Please read my post on TravelingMom, 11 Tips for Navigating Holiday Crowds at Disneyland. You’ll learn lots of holiday hacks on having the best visit despite the extra crowds.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

The ocean-themed Christmas tree at Paradise Pier inside California Adventure park.

Park and Resort Decor for Christmas at Disneyland

My most favorite part of visiting the Disneyland Resort during Christmas is seeing the detailed decorations that cover every corner! The resort hotels have special decor that’s worth checking out, including themed Christmas trees inside each of the Disneyland Hotel towers.

As you walk from your Disneyland resort hotel through the Downtown Disney District, there are more holiday decorations to get you in the mood.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Retro themed Christmas trees inside the Disneyland Hotel lobby

Inside Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa, the lobby is totally decked out for the holidays. On our Christmas at Disneyland vacation last year, we were in awe of the larger-than-life gingerbread replica of the hotel!  You can even purchase a small version right there in the lobby to nibble on yourself.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Christmas at Disneyland Park

Start off the day at Disneyland Park by posing in front of the huge Christmas tree in the Main Street U.S.A. square. Each Land has its own holiday themed decor, from rustic in Frontierland to tropical in Adventureland. Even Toontown gets an appropriate holiday splash of color that’s bright and festive, with lots of large ornaments and over-sized bows!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Christmas comes to Toontown at Disneyland!

My favorite seasonal attraction is it’s a small world Holiday, when the facade is bejeweled with tiny colorful lights and our favorite clock dons a Santa hat! Even the ride inside receives an amazing holiday makeover with songs of the season and an entirely new look that celebrates the holidays in each country represented.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Be sure to return after dark: More than 300,000 lights glitter and every 15-minutes, the façade of the attraction is transformed with advanced 3D-projection technology.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Grab a FASTPASS for Haunted Mansion Holiday which receives new effects every year! It’s a holiday season can’t-miss and you should grab a FASTPASS early in the day. Be sure to look for the gingerbread design inside the ballroom scene. It changes every year (and you can smell the gingerbread!)

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

2017 Editor’s note: Jingle Cruise is not available this year: Another Christmas at Disneyland overlay is the transformation of the Jungle Cruise into the Jingle Cruise. Story goes that a shipment of Christmas decorations was mistakenly dropped over the jungle. You just have to see what the animals and natives have done with the plethora of garland, ugly Christmas sweaters, ornaments and fruitcakes!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park

At Disney California Adventure Park, the buildings around Buena Vista Street are decorated with 1920s-approprate garland and vintage-style ornaments. “a bug’s land” is decorated with giant Christmas lights and over-sized ornaments. This is a fun area any time of year but even more whimsical with the wildly-large decor!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Festival of Holidays offers flavors of the season at a variety of kiosks in the Park. Southern Home Holidays served up sweet potato pie, Mistletoe Morsels offered Swedish dishes and Treats for Santa had traditional cookies and punch. There is also beer and non-alcoholic drinks. We found the lines to be reasonable mid-day and very crowded in the evening. Get your fill of these appetizer-sized dishes during lunch to maximize your time.

Cars Land is amazing during the holidays with auto filter garlands, white-wall tire wreaths and a Christmas tree decked out in shiny hubcaps! Be sure have your picture taken with the “snowcar” complete with top hat and pylon nose!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

!Viva Navidad!

Several times a day The Three Caballeros (Donald Duck, Panchito  and José Carioca host a dance party and Latin celebration. I’d suggest watching during the day time hours when it’s still light enough to see clearly. We arrived after dark and the area was poorly lit so it was hard to see the action.

Send Your Holiday Presents & Gifts Ahead of Your Trip

Save space in your luggage by having gifts sent ahead to your hotel. Pre-order presents on Amazon and have them sent to you so they’re waiting at the hotel! Just make sure the address includes the word “Guest” on the front and the date of your arrival at the resort hotel. You’ll be able to pick up your boxes at mail services upon arrival.

While staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, you can also have packages delivered back to your hotel so you don’t have to tote them around the parks all day.

If you have family that will be at Disneyland and you want to send them a special something, contact Disney Floral & Gifts to order stockings stuffed with Disney goodies, delicious treats, or even a full “in-room celebration” with a bounty of gifts and delights. It’s a great way to show the kids that Santa didn’t forget them, even when they’re away from home!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Christmas at Disneyland Entertainment & Shows

Be sure to check out the beautiful Disney California Adventure Park World of Color – Season of Light! This nighttime water show features classic Disney movie moments and holiday favorites.

The ever popular “A Christmas Fantasy” parade will return to Disneyland, with 100+ performers in the parade including Mickey,  Minnie and a special guest from the North Pole…Santa Claus!

Stay in the parks until dark and be rewarded with entertainment that lights up the night! Believe…In Holiday Magic, the fireworks spectacular will include more than 80,000 twinkling lights illuminating Sleeping Beauty Castle and a magical snowfall as well!

These tips for Holidays at Disneyland will help you navigate crowds & enjoy the most magical winter vacation! #Disneyland

Meeting Santa and Other Characters

Greet the characters dressed up in their holiday finest on Main Street U.S.A. We always make a point to take pictures with our favorites first thing in the morning because this is a very popular feature during the holidays.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Meeting Santa is a magical part of Christmas and no more so than at Disneyland! This year Santa Claus will be meeting children at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at Disney California Adventure Park and in Critter Country at Disneyland Park. My son even had the opportunity to sign Santa’s “Nice List” guest book!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Save Money on a DISNEYLAND Vacation!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).

These tips for Holidays at Disneyland will help you navigate crowds & enjoy the most magical winter vacation! #Disneyland

Disney-Themed Stocking Stuffers That Don’t Break the Bank

Disney-Themed Stocking Stuffers That Don't Break the Bank

You’ve carefully budgeted your Christmas shopping and then you remember…you didn’t buy anything for the STOCKINGS! Or is that just me? Depending on how well you “stuff the stocking”, this could be a very expensive endeavor! Here are some last-minute practical and inexpensive stocking stuffers that won’t compromise your budget.

I’m a practical gal, I’ll admit it. I tend to gravitate towards stocking stuffer items that my kids already need. A new toothbrush, crayons, winter gloves, bubble bath and yes, even a package of undies make it in to the stocking.

Keep reading for my practical but still fun stocking stuffer ideas and a list of tips at the bottom of this post.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links

 Cozy Up

‘Tis the season to keep warm and these gifts will keep them toasty and stylish. A warm scarf, hat, gloves, slippers or socks are always welcome, especially if they feature a favorite character. Socks in a stocking? Kids will get a kick out of that!

from left to right,  BB-8 Knit hat (Disney Store), Doc McStuffins Kids Lambie Slippers, Star Wars Socks (both from Amazon)


 Art Supplies

Always a family favorite in our house. A fresh box of crayons or markers and a coloring book rolled up into the stocking is always a hit. Older kids might like a personalized pen.

from left to right, Disney’s Frozen Magic Ink Pictures Activity Book (Amazon), Walt Disney World personalized pen (from Disney Store), Disney Pixar Cars 12 Jumbo Crayons (Amazon)

Bathroom Fun

My little one  is obsessed with the Disney Magic Timer app that encourages longer brushing. He already has Star Wars mouthwash, Cars toothpaste and an Avengers toothbrush. I was able to find this Frozen-themed set for his stocking that I know he will love. And what’s better to balance out holiday sweets than oral hygiene products! *wink*

from left to right, Star Wars Oral Hygiene Set, Disney Frozen Oral-B Crest and Pro-Health Junior Toothpaste, Doc McStuffins 3pc Bright Smile Oral Hygiene Set (all from Amazon)

Get ’em clean with fun bath time goodies like bubble bath, soap and scrubbers. My older kids like something a little more “grown up” in a more sophisticated scent like the Disney H2O products.

from left to right, Disney Princess Bubble Bath (Amazon), Sea Salt & Marine Spa Collection (DisneyStore) and Bubble Bath Set Disney Pixar Cars (Amazon)


Stock Up for the Year

Make practical things a gift. Kids just want to see their favorite character and they are things that you would normally buy through the year anyway!

from left to right, Band-Aid Disney-Pixar Inside Out, Disney-Pixar Nemo SPF50 Sunscreen Stick, Bonnie Bell Disney Mickey Mouse Lip Balm

Vacation Goodies

Think ahead to what your kids will need things for vacations, like sunglasses, a sun hat or a t-shirt. Roll ’em up and stuff it in the stocking!

from left to right,  Elsa Costume Tee (Disney Store), R2-D2 Sunglasses and Minnie Mouse Toddler Girls Pink Bucket Hat
(both from Amazon)

A Little Something Just for Fun

Don’t forget at least one fun little thing that your kids will enjoy through the year. Little ones might enjoy a little stuffy and older girls would love a classy make-up set in a Disney-theme. And don’t forget the Force in the form of a cool new Lightsaber!

from left to right, Minnie Mouse Hair Ties, Marvel Universal “Tsum Tsum” (both from Disney Store)

from left to right, ELF Jasmine Face Makeup Set, Maxx Action Galactic Series Photon Sabers (both from Amazon)

 Something Sweet

I bought these mini candy canes for my kids last Christmas and they were just the perfect size to toss a few of each flavor into each stocking. And how cute is that Olaf Hot Cocoa set?! My kids don’t have candy or sweets very often so receiving a special treat in their stockings is always welcome (we even let them indulge right after breakfast!) It is Christmas, after all!

from left to right, Disney’s Mini Candy Canes, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, Mickey Mouse Special Edition, Wilton Disney Frozen Olaf Cocoa Trimming Kit and Arctic White Hot Cocoa Bundle


Stocking Stuffer Tips –

1. What’s your stocking budget? Those little things really add up so make sure you have a cost in mind before buying and don’t go overboard on the cost.

2. Keep size in mind. Take the size of your stockings into consideration. If a gift is too big for the stocking, wrap it up and set it next to the stocking or on the mantle.

3. How many items should you get? Keep the number of stocking stuffers between 3-5 (depending upon the size).

4. Don’t buy junk or just “things” to fill the stocking. Stick to what you know will be used and well-loved.  I want things that will actually be enjoyed so it’s worth spending a little more rather than just filling stockings with bottom-of-the-toy-box items from the dollar store.

 What are your favorite stocking stuffers? Share in the comments…and have a Merry Christmas!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links


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!


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!

Please note that this post does contain affiliate links.



SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration

My family and I were recently able to visit SeaWorld San Diego during its annual Christmas Celebration. The park is beautifully decorated all over for the holidays with lights, trees and a fun Christmas party atmosphere. Read more about it on my post at Traveling Mom.

SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration


How to Navigate Holiday Crowds at the Disneyland Resort #TMOM

It’s a very merry Christmas season at the Disneyland Resort! How can you navigate the crowds and still make sure to have a magical time? Follow these 11 tips on my most recent post at Traveling Moms.

How to Navigate Holiday Crowds at the Disneyland Resort #TMOM







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)



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)


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)


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!



Meaningful Holiday Traditions – Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

The best things in life are free…that’s what they say anyway! When it comes to holiday traditions however, I fully believe this. Traditions aren’t intended to be fancy or over-the-top: Traditions inspire, spur creativity and create lasting memories. Keeping up traditions doesn’t have to cost you anything extra so don’t worry if your budget is already over-taxed.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

For children, something only has to be done once to make it “tradition” (ie: “We always have waffles on Christmas”, only because you served them last year!) Ask your children what traditions are their favorite. My parents and grandparents were very big on Christmas traditions and it made the holidays extra special. Each family member painted a winter scene on their front windows using tempera paints. Christmas Eve night was spent at church, holding candles and singing songs. Santa’s gift was always assembled and unwrapped under the twinkling tree. Christmas Day our entire (very large!) family got together for lunch and to open presents in our wild gift exchange…it was an all-day event! It’s a tradition we hold today. Those are incredible memories that I hope I can create in our own way for my children.

Here are a few ways you can incorporate traditions into your holidays this year:


Do you have a traditional food that gets prepared each holiday? In my husband’s family, his aunts get together and make tamales that we can enjoy in the new year. For our family luncheon, my aunt brings an ambrosia salad (a sweet treat with marshmallows and canned fruit). It was something that my grandmother used to prepare and my aunt carries the tradition.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

Last year I made this Christmas Cranberry Cake, which was a hit!

A friend of mine started a cookie decorating party several years ago for her nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. She makes the sugar and gingerbread cookies, I make the royal icing and we all gather for dinner and decorating. Everyone enjoys it, young and old alike. I recommend using squeeze bottles for the icing (which makes decorating and clean up so much easier).

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

As a child, my mom always prepared a Bisquick coffee cake to eat on Christmas morning. Many times I’ve prepared an overnight French Toast that I can make the night before and pop in the oven while we unwrap gifts. If you don’t have a traditional food think about what your family favorite is and serve it over the holiday week. Or find a new favorite in a holiday-themed cookbook, like this one, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!


Certain holiday songs can take me back to a place and time in my childhood and I’m sure there are songs that do the same for you. The Little Drummer Boy for me is sitting next to my dad in the church choir and hearing his deep bass pah-rump-a-pum-pumming out the beat of the drum. Hearing Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You puts me back to the 90s while out Christmas shopping with my brother. Whether it be Josh Groban’s Noel album, Mannheim Steamroller’s acoustic A Fresh Aire Christmas or The Chipmunks Christmas Don’t Be Late, these songs put us in the holiday mood.

For me it’s not Christmas until I’ve heard Whitney Houston sing Do You Hear What I Hear. Goosebumps every time! Think about your favorite seasonal music and play it at home or in the car. Sing the lyrics, teach your kids and let the music put you in the Christmas spirit!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

At my son’s school Christmas Concert


Volunteering your time to a cause is beneficial not only to the other person but to your spirit as well. With the extra events going on in communities this time of year, extra volunteers are always welcome. Check in with local shelters, soup kitchens and churches to find out how you can pitch in. With three young children, my time is limited and finding someone to watch our children so we can donate our time to a cause can be a challenge. Find out if there are volunteer opportunities for your children to participate in as well. My husband and son have gone out with our church to deliver sandwiches to the homeless and it was an eye-opening experience that he’s never forgotten. If your time is limited, consider donating your gently used clothing and toys to a local thrift store or shelter.


Capture the moment in time with a snapshot of your child in front of the Christmas tree with their favorite gift of the year.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!


Enjoy an outdoor activity with your family that is appropriate for the season. We have never celebrated a “White Christmas” before so we make do with warmer temps and a hike in our neighborhood park. If you have snow, get out in it with the kids for a sledding competition, snowball fight or snowman building contest. Make it your tradition on one of the holiday nights to take a drive and see the Christmas lights. We have a neighborhood nearby with fantastic Christmas displays and lights and we make it a point to drive though it several times during the season and to walk through it at least once. Load up with cocoa and treats to snack on as you walk!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

Christmas in San Diego – A morning hike at Mission Trails


No need to spend a ton at the salon this season when you can enjoy a relaxing “Spa-day” at home. The holidays can really take it out of you! Doesn’t a warm foot soak sound lovely? Do it up at home and you can rest in your pjs while you polish your toes or read a magazine while wearing a homemade facial mask. Pretty up with creative hair-dos for a holiday party. I bought some Jamberry nails this season and have loved how long they last (2 weeks on my hands and 4 weeks on my toes!) I have Midnight Celebration (the first image on the left) on my hands right now and think they are so fun & festive. Pampering might not fall under the free catagory, but staying home is certainly cheaper than going to a salon. Perhaps pampering yourself might also just be as simple as curling up in bed with a favorite book to recharge your holiday batteries. Make it your new tradition to take a break during the busy season and take care of yourself!


For at least ten years there was a gift box shaped like a toy shop that was passed through our family. It was a delight to receive that box, no matter what was inside because it was tradition. Finally the box fell apart and had to be tossed out but it is a fun tradition to start in your family. Find a quirky gift bag or box and keep it around the family, gifting someone new each year.

I was shocked when a friend told me their Christmas morning of gift exhanging was traditionally over in less than 10-minutes: apparantly it was a frenzy of unwrapping, paper flying and “thank yous” thrown around the room. Our family tradition has always been to open gifts one person at a time and for the others to watch what they receive. That way the giver has the joy of seeing the recipient view their present for the first time. Our kids know that we take turns in our home too and the youngest child gets to choose the first gift. Some families have a Pickle Ornament on their tree and the first person to spot the pickle gets to choose their first gift to open. We all have pickle ornaments in our family too but that’s because our surname is Dill!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!


9 years ago I started collecting these Hallmark ornaments in the Beauty of Birds series. I missed the first year! This was the offering in 2014, isn’t she pretty?

Image from

I have all of my collection on a small white tree and traditionally have the tree set up on my dining room buffet. Collecting ornaments throughout the years is a beautiful tradition. I have ornaments on my tree that my grandmother gave me as a child. I adore pulling out my beloved ornaments year after year.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

The handmade ornaments that my children have made over the years are a delight. A paper crayon drawing of an angel that my littlest made in Sunday school is my current tree topper.  Many Disney fan collect ornaments at the Parks as a memento of their dream vacations. If you have it in your budget, it’s a nice tradition to take the kids out and let them choose an ornament at the store each year. These would be ornaments you would send off with them when they are grown and have their own home! (from left to right, Tigger, Disney Parks Light Up EarsSorcerer’s Apprentice – images from Disney Store)



When I recently asked my older children what their favorite part of the Christmas season is they both answered the same: Church. We attend church every Sunday and they also attend a life group Bible study once a week. Church is a part of their lives on a regular basis already but I was still intrigued to hear that attending services is their favorite Christmas tradition. During the holidays people in general are more open to attending church service. If you don’t already have a “home church”, consider accepting the invitation of a friend to attend. And if you already regularly attend, reach out to friends and invite them to come with you to service.

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What are the favorite holiday traditions in your family? Please share them below in the comments!