Santa Visit and Christmas Party

Our neighborhood put on the most fun Christmas party this past weekend. My favorite part was seeing the kids reactions to Santa Claus! haha

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Carson was terrified at first, but eventually warmed up – he even gave him a high five before we left!

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Elizabeth never warmed up! As soon as she sat in his lap, the tears started…and didn’t stop until I snagged her back up.

Paisley loved every minute of it and asked him for real makeup! And a microphone…at least one is on her list!

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There were a ton of activities for the kids – face painting, balloon artist, glitter tattoos, coloring, ornament making – the list goes on! It kept our kiddos entertained throughout the entirety of our time there.

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We ended our time with a little dance party with Santa’s elves. Paisley of course loved it and Carson sat on the sidelines and watched – his go to.

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It is only the start of our Christmas season celebration and I am excited to continue to create memories with our kids. Next up, hot chocolate and touring the city Christmas lights!

~xo~

Holiday Gifting Guide

As much as I like to focus on serving others and spending time with family, I can’t ignore the fact that there is somewhat of a focus on gifting. I’ve found a few items that I love, my kids love and the hubs loves to make your shopping that much easier! With less than 4 weeks to get the goodies, hop to it people!

For the kiddos: I’m all about educational items, with a huge emphasis on educational toys right now. I love the fact that the kids play and learn at the same time. Paisley has been a fantastic test kid with a few of these products, and will be a future tester on some others.

  • Magnatiles: I first discovered these when I worked in preschools. These are amazing! With their different shapes and sizes, along with the “magical” magnetic abilities, Paisley can play and build with these for days. We also found a comparable, but less expensive version of these magnetic shape blocks, called Playmags. They work the same way, are compatible with Magnatiles and are a bit cheaper on the wallet!
  • Osmo: This company claims to “take play beyond the screen” and I am excited to try it out. Many kids these days are glued to screens, and this game incorporates math, reading, writing, and imagination into play-learning. Kiddos age 5-12 should look towards the Genius kit. For my 3 year old, we are leaning towards the Creative kit.
  • Boogie Board Play n Trace: My daughter loves drawing and writing, especially on her Magnadoodle. I looked everywhere for an updated one and wasn’t impressed. But we found this beauty at Staples one day and Amazon happens to carry it too! You can even buy different activity packs that enhance the fun (here’s the link to the Numbers and Letters version).
  • Code A Pillar: This little guy is something we have yet to try. Hoping to test it out soon though. Each piece makes him move a certain way (left, right, 90 degree turns, etc). Kiddos can link the pieces together and then create tunnels or a maze to test out their skills. There are expansion packs which can add to the fun and increase the challenge!
  • Latches Wooden Activity Board: Carson is all about unlocking, turning lights on and off, etc. The fun stage with babies (that and the dumping stage! ha). There are ways to make these DIY style, but Brian and I opted for this Melissa & Doug version. So excited for it to come in!
  • Wooden Geometric Stacker: I am digging this stacker. It comes with multiple shapes and colors and is a bit of a puzzle. There are grooves on the pieces that challenge kiddos to fit them just right, so they lay flat. LOVE LOVE LOVE this for Carson!
  •  Poppin Pals: These babies have been around FOREVER, but offer so many skills for the little ones to learn. Cause and effect, fine motor skills, and anticipatory skills. There are a bunch of different versions on Amazon. Check them out.
  • Board Games: There are so many different interactive/cooperative games for young children out there. All teach some version of turn taking, some are color recognition, counting, pattern recognition and memory. Monday night board game play at our house usually includes Memory, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, or Frozen Surprise Slides Game

Most of these links will take you to Amazon, so if you have Amazon Prime you can order them today and get them by Thursday! With free shipping! And still in plenty of time for Christmas. And if you don’t have Amazon Prime, you are missing out…best investment ever! ha

For the Hubs: Brian is by far the hardest person to shop for. He rarely wants things, and when he does they are usually pricey (the past few years he’s wanted a boat…for real…). I have found a few items he doesn’t have though that will make any guy happy!

  • Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2: He has been looking for a good pair of bluetooth headphones that don’t break the bank. After doing some research and comparing brands, I found these. They rank 2nd to Beats, and have a few knocks on their rating because the noise canceling isn’t “as good” as the Beats version. But coming in less than $250 compared to Beats at almost $400, I opted for these. He couldn’t wait and has tried them out, super impressed so far. (I did order them directly from Plantronics website because they were sold out on Amazon)
  • Dry Cleaning: With 2 kids, one of which still a slobbery mess, Brian gets frustrated when his suits get covered in food or goobers. I decided to treat him this year and get both of his suits dry-cleaned (which should have happened FOREVER ago, but let’s be real…who has time for that??). Go to your local dry cleaner to freshen up those pieces you can’t just throw in the steam cycle
  • Genuine Leather Wallet: Even though this is advertised on my Stella & Dot site, I feel it is masculine and slim enough for any man. I love the black leather paired with the midnight suede. Add a bit of gold detail to finish it off.

For Her: A few things I want or have plus a few anyone will enjoy getting.

  • Diamond Initial Necklace: What girl doesn’t love diamonds? And if yours is a little more edgy, opt for the Black Diamond version. Whether you choose one for her name, her new last name, or get one for each of her kids she will love it. Initial necklace are the latest trend in #momwear, replacing the engravable, or Pandora-type charm bracelet.
  • Genuine Leather Bag: I have two I’m currently loving right now, the Covet Waverly  Bag and the Covet Sunday Bag. Both can be worn two different ways: the Waverly as a clutch. Just remove the strap for a small clutch for fancy evenings. The Sunday Bag as a long crossbody or a short shoulder bag. Just adjust the strap to change the length.
  • Amazon Echo: I love having music playing in the background when I’m cleaning or folding laundry. The Amazon Echo is sleek and responds to your voice. Although she does WAY more than just play music, that is the feature I am most excited about using!
  • Over the Knee Boots: So I have yet to hop on this trend but I SO want to (can a preggers pull off OTK boots??). I love my booties and love my riding boots, but every time I see my girl Shannon (check out her blog here or follow her @shannonwillardson on Instagram) in a pair I am so envious! Here’s her post about her fave pair. PS- If you want fashion advice, you NEED to follow her. Her style is so simple and she uses everyday pieces, which I love.

Obviously this list is not exhaustive, but just a few fun ideas to get those last minute brains going. There are only 13 more days until Christmas, so hop online and do some shopping for those who you love!

Happy Shopping All!

~xo~