Category: Holidays

I am not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Never have been, never will be. Now don’t be mad at me if V-day is a favorite holiday of yours. Just hear me out.

As a a kid, it’s all fun and games. You get to hand out overpriced character cards and candy at school and create cute little boxes to collect all your Valentines in. Once you get into you teen years, it all of a sudden becomes a big deal to everyone. All of a sudden if you don’t get flowers/balloons/chocolate, you’re a loser who sits at home crying into their pint of Ben & Jerry’s. And if you do get that stuff, well then surely you’re meant to be with that person for, like, ever.

Don’t get me wrong here, I LOVE love. I adore sappy romantic movies, have read many a Nicholas Sparks novel and I cry at weddings. I just get annoyed with the over-commercialized fake-ness that is Valentine’s Day.

And I’m sorry if my cynicism is ruining your sugar-induced lovefest, but I feel like we should show our feelings for the ones we love each and every day, not just one day a year (just because Hallmark says so).

What’s my problem with Valentine’s Day you ask? Well, let me tell you. Here are 10 things I hate about Valentine’s Day:

  1. It’s always a let down. No matter how much (or how little) you plan, it never lives up to your lofty, unrealistic expectations. It’s just like New Years Eve.
  2. It forces fake romance/displays of affection. On Valentine’s Day, people throw around the ‘L’ word around because they’re supposed to, not because they genuinely mean it.
  3. Cards are so 1989. Just send me an email and save the $4.99 (or buy me a coffee from Starbucks). Plus cards are just one more thing to clutter up my house.
  4. Single people feel like outcasts. Everything is ‘dinner for 2′ and ‘made for couples’. Single people need loving too you know. And maybe they’re single because they want to be, not because they’re sad, depressed or unlovable.
  5. Cupid is creepy. I’m sorry but a grown man in a diaper with wings and a bow and arrow does not make me think of love. He’s 75% pervert and 25% delusional drunk person.
  6. You’re forced to buy stupid crap. Who needs a stuffed gorilla that sings ‘Love Me Tender’ for $24.99? Nobody, that’s who!
  7. I can’t take the cheesy sayings. Not only are conversation hearts disgusting but their cheesy sayings make me want to vomit.
  8. My kids don’t need more sugar. Not only do we force feed all this Valentine’s crap from an early age but then we pump them full of sugar. Please, just stop. They’re crazy enough.
  9. It ruins my resolutions. We all resolve to be healthy or lose weight for the new year. Then, six weeks later, Valentine’s Day comes at you with candy hearts and chocolate. No one can resist chocolate in the shape of a heart.
  10. If love is blind, why do I have to wear overpriced lingerie?

Now I don’t HATE Valentine’s Day, I just don’t like a lot of things about it. I’ll still be celebrating with my little family by making a special dinner and drinking good wine (which is special because usually I drink just ok wine). I won’t be buying (or recieving) store-bought cards, heart-shaped candy or ridiculous stuffed animals. But hey, that’s just me.

Every year, the girls and I make some kind of gift to give their grandparents (because homemade gifts are like crack to grandparents). The past two years, we’ve made ornaments (and I always have them make an extra set of ornaments for our tree too).

  • In 2012, we did footprint/handprint salt dough ornaments that Lucy and I painted red.
  • In 2013, Lucy and Olivia made popsicle stick frames that we added our Santa pictures to.

With 8 days left until Christmas, I just realized I hadn’t thought about what their gift would be this year. The girls decided they wanted to make ornaments as their gifts again this year, so like any Pinterest addict, I started searching for easy ornaments that the girls could make (with a little help from Mom). There are so many cute options out there but some of them require more talent than this mom has.

I’m leaning towards doing one of these 5 choices, which seem pretty simple and easy for the kids to do/help with. I’m under no illusion that our ornaments will look as ‘fancy’ as some of these but they’re special because they’re made with love (if I wanted fancy I would go to the store and buy fancy ornaments). I’ll post a quick tutorial and pics of our final ornaments after Christmas (so as not to spoil the surprise).

5 DIY ornaments for kids to make

1. Glitter Cookie Cutter Ornaments, Centsational Girl

2. Pom Pom Wreath Photo Ornaments, Sheknows

3. Scrabble Christmas Ornaments, Mom 4 Real

4. Popsicle Stick Ornaments, Hands on as we grow

5. Block Photo Ornaments, Crafting Chicks

Head on over to my gifts kids can make Pinterest board for more ornament and gift ideas that kids can make (with a little help from Mom or Dad).

I started writing this post according to what I thought guys would want to see under the tree this year. I asked my husband to take a quick look to get his opinion. Next thing I know, he’s adding his own commentary and basically taking over my post (thanks dear). I guess who better to tell you what guys might actually want for Christmas than a guy, right?!

So, with that, here is my guy’s guide to gifts for the men in your life.

Fun dress socks – we’re not talking white athletic socks like his mom used to buy him. Think argyle, stripes, masculine patterns that fit his personality. These are also an easy gift for kids to pick out for dad that he might actually wear.

Stan: First of all I agree with the entire socks thing. However, funny how the picture my wife chose has basically zero of the features she describes as cool. This is basically the opposite of what to do. This pair of socks features zero argyle, more of a dot than a stripe and those are masculine patterns?! On a serious note, good idea. Go crazy. Most of what us men have to wear for work and social occasions is pretty conservative. We view you, our female campadres, as the “cool fashion gods” so show us what you got.

Tickets to his favorite event – tailor this gift to his interests. A sporting event, concert, comedy show, musical, whatever strikes his fancy. My guy is hoping for tickets to the NCAA National Championship Football Game or Mumford and Sons.

Stan: Or Matthew Kearney!!!! Do you not listen to me woman? I agree with this but here’s the thing, and this might hurt your feelings ladies, if it’s a sporting event –  you should not go. Let him take a fellow married-with-kids buddy. He’ll really appreciate you for allowing him a night out with another buddy who cant get out often to get away from it all.

Sports equipment or accessories – again, tailor this gift to his particular sports interests. Think lessons, apparel, gear, shoes or gadgets. My guy is a golf fantic so he’s hoping for this golf bag organizer for our unorganized garage.

Stan: This better come pre-assembled. If not it quickly becomes simply the next chore I have to do around the house. And guess who’s project chores come last? Yep…Enjoy staying in your comfy never opened box in the garage. But hey, has a pretty picture on the box right?

Drinkware –  if your husband occasionally enjoys a good drink, get him a nice bottle of his favorite adult beverage and some nice glasses with some of these extra-large ice cube molds. The larger cubes melt slower and won’t water down his drink.

Stan: You want to make this really cool? Get some initials on the glasses. And no. Not your initials or his or your children. The man wants some JR initials. As in JR Ewing people. The coolest man to ever lay foot on this planet. Not a second passes as I take a sip of some fine bourbon and not wish I was standing there in an awesome cowboy hat, cigar in the other hand and a Cheshire cat grin on my face. JR Freaking Ewing. Awesome.

Techie stuff – guys love gadgets and gizmos so things like a tablet, a Fitbit, GPS watch, GoPro camera or some Beats by Dre headphones can make great gifts for him.

Stan: Yep. Just wait for the Apple Watch. It. Will. Change. The. World.

Foodie stuff – while my husband would say this means ‘Get him a Traeger’ that may not be in everyone’s holiday budget. I mean actual food, like a Salami of the month membership from Olympic Provisions (what man doesn’t want a monthly delivery of meat) or the Sausage Sampler from New Braufels Smokehouse.

Stan: Let’s get straight to the point here ladies, this means less cooking for you.

From the kids – my advice here is to go to Pinterest (follow us while you’re there), and search ‘kid gifts for dad’. Something they made (or you made and they basically scribbled on) will mean way more than an Mickey Mouse tie or something equally silly kids would pick out.

Stan: 100% true. We are secretly the same as you. Even though we did not bear these children, I have watched boys become men simply as a result of being a father. No greater honor. These kinds of gifts mean a lot to us.

There you have it. And my guy makes some very valid points (the food gift totally gets you off the hook for at least 1 or 2 meals). Hope this helps point you in the right direction for a gift your guy will actually be happy to receive this Christmas.

Need more holiday gift ideas? Check out our gift guides for kids and moms.

Kid toys have gotten crazy over the last 10 years. Everything requires batteries or a charger and some manner of assembly or set up. I remember playing with a ‘stick horse’ as a kid that was literally just a stick I found outside, so I’m a little jealous. My own spoiled children have an abundance of toys, games, clothes, things, yet they insist on playing with the same 4 toys (one of which is usually an empty box or water bottle).

Every year during the holidays, I tell myself I’m going to rein in our the amount of toys they get for Christmas, but that is usually overcome by visions of their excited little faces on Christmas morning as they shred through carefully placed wrapping and bows to discover what treasures are waiting for them.

About a month ago, I read this post about giving ‘gifts’ instead of ‘toys’ for Christmas. It makes the great point that most kids don’t usually remember a lot of the toys they recieve, but they remember experiences. Go do something with them and they are probably more likely to remember and appreciate it than some plastic toy. Plus, it won’t get tossed into a toy box and forgotten.

This post inspired me to try to make at least one of the things I give my kids (and nephews) for Christmas this year a ‘gift’ rather than a toy (don’t worry, they’re still getting plenty of toys, too).

Here are some creative gift ideas that can help you create memories with kids.

  • Give them a gift that teaches them something/– any kind of lessons (or camp or membership), just teach them something. Not only will you be teaching them something new, but they’ll also appreciate the time you’re spending with them.
    • If you have a talent (playing guitar, knitting, underwater basket weaving), teach them yourself.
    • If you’re less talented, think about taking lessons with them (dancing, cooking, pottery, horse back riding, whatever).
    • Or if they’re into soccer or animals, sign them up for a camp or get them a membership to your local zoo.
  • Give the gift of reading – with Blue Manatee boxes, you can give a child of any age a collection of books tailored to their interests/needs. You can build your own box of books by selecting from a wide variety of book titles, organized by age, occasion and popular categories. Or you can select a themed box based on a special occasion or interest. You can also add gear (toys or clothes) and a personalized note to your box. Boxes range from $30 for 3 books to $80 for 9 books (shipping is free). And, as an added bonus, the packaging is also eco friendly and comes with play ideas (like how to make the box into a robot).
  • Give them inspiration to think critically – The Goldie Blox Zipline Action Figure is girl-oriented but I love the idea of an action figure for girls (that isn’t all boobs and high heels) that promotes engineering and figuring shit out critical thinking skills. The Goldie Blox line contains a variety of buildable items for ages 4 and older. This Zipline kit includes a book about Goldie’s Zipline Adventures and everything needed to send Goldie ziplining across the room, down the stairs or anywhere (within the 13′ range).
  • Give them something to build or make – Mindware Marble Run provides hours of fun and endless possibilities. Kids can use the colorful (and easy to assemble) pieces to build tracks and then send the marbles speeding through the twists and turns of slides, tubes and funnels. There are a million different ways to configure the pieces, which promotes problem solving and creative thinking. Bonus if you get in there and build with them
  • Take them somewhere – take them somewhere, anywhere. Maybe it’s the park or a local children’s museum or a sporting event. Maybe it’s a scavenger hunt around their town. Maybe it’s camping. Maybe it’s a road trip to see the World’s Largest ball of twine. It doesn’t have to be Paris or the rainforest or Disneyland or somewhere grand (ie expensive). Just take them somewhere, show them something new. Again, spending time with them will be far more memorable than any toy you could give them.

Now I know, you’re looking at this list and calling BS because there are in fact toys on this list. Truth. However, the idea is that you give kids something that really make them think, teach them things and solve problems. They go above and beyond a light up, singing Elsa doll (we already know all the words to ‘Let it Go’ so we don’t need a doll to teach us) or an Elmo figure that giggles when you touch it (I may be dating myself by calling that one out, I’m sure Elmo is on to way cooler things than giggling these days).

And also remember, they are kids, so a few toys won’t hurt.

Need gift ideas for mom and dad too? Check out my gift guide for guys (with commentary from my husband) and my favorite things (which make great gifts for any lady).

I mentioned last week that one of the holiday traditions that my husband and I have is to watch our favorite holiday movies together. This means that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we watch 20+ holiday movies (don’t judge, there is nothing else on between those two holidays). I always look forward to sharing this with my husband, as we have our own inside jokes and personal favorites.

I thought I’d share our list and see if there are any classics that we’re missing that we should include in our list for this year.

Here are our favorites (in no particular order):

  1. Family Stone
  2. Bad Santa
  3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  4. Home Alone 1
  5. Home Alone 2
  6. Miracle on 34th Street
  7. Home for the Holidays
  8. Family Man
  9. The Holiday
  10. Love Actually
  11. Nothing Like the Holidays
  12. Elf
  13. Serendipity
  14. It’s a Wonderful Life
  15. Just Friends
  16. The Santa Clause
  17. The Santa Clause 2
  18. The Santa Clause 3
  19. A Christmas Story
  20. This Christmas
  21. Fred Claus
  22. Four Christmases

Now this list does not include any of the kids favorites, since the point is for us to share these movies together.

Let me know if there’s a must watch flick that we’re missing.

Once you become a parent, the holiday season (and your life) quickly becomes all about the bass babies. And just like in life, you must remember that it’s important to make time for your partner as well. The holidays are the perfect time to make memories with your spouse and show them how much you appreciate and love them.

My husband and I have a holiday tradition that involves watching all our favorite holiday movies together. This means that we watch about 20+ holiday movies between Thanksgiving and Christmas (don’t judge). We also have specific movies we watch on specific nights, like Christmas Eve is always ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘A Christmas Story’.

Here are 9 traditions to start with your spouse this holiday season:

  1. Dinner and shopping – during the holidays, it can be hard to find time for a date night (who are we kidding, it’s not easy any time of the year). Find a night to sneak away from the kids (maybe have them make holiday cookies with Grandma) and tackle two birds with one stone. Get your shopping done together sans kiddos and then grab dinner and a drink (or three).
  2. Hit up Starbucks and then go light seeing – there’s nothing better than a warm drink and Christmas lights. Turn on some Christmas music and get ready to be super judgy about the light stringing skills of your neighbors.
  3. Watch Christmas movies together – I’m not talking the Christmas cartoons you watch with the kids over and over, I’m talking about grown-up Christmas movies. Whether you like comedy (think ‘Christmas Vacation’ and ‘Bad Santa’) or more sentimental classics (‘Family Stone’ and ‘Miracle on 34th St’), make special time to snuggle up with a glass of wine or hot cocoa, just the two of you to share a movie (or like 30 in our case). Bonus, if you decide to watch ‘Christmas Vacation’, here is a fun drinking game to get you in the holiday spirit.
  4. Buy your spouse festive PJ’s – buy each other special pajamas for Christmas eve, wrap them up and open them after the kiddos nod off. Maybe they’re naughty, maybe they’re nice. (Looking for the lady in your life? Try some of my favorite cute and cozy pjs)
  5. 12 dates of Christmas – if you’re able to get away more often, plan 12 mini-dates for the days leading up to Christmas. Meet for pancakes before work or try fondue for dinner.
  6. Be creative with your spouses stocking – try a theme or gag gifts. Here are some stocking ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
  7. Holiday love letters – write a love letter to your partner, expressing gratitude for all that they do and other mushy stuff. Exchange them Christmas Eve after the kiddos go to bed.
  8. Make their favorite meal or treat – show them you care by making them their favorite meal, cookies, cake, whatever they really love, no matter how much work it means for you (even if it means calling your mother in law to get the recipe). It will mean a lot that you took the time to make something special just for them.
  9. Exchange gifts on Christmas Eve – With kids, Christmas morning is usually a blur of toys camera flashes and massive amounts of wrapping paper. Make Christmas Eve about the two of you and exchange gifts after the kids head off to dreamland so your gifts don’t get lost in the rush of Christmas morning.

Already have traditions with your spouse? What’s your favorite?

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