My Family’s Holiday Gift Giving Traditions

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Opening Chanukah present6

This is a throwback picture of my daughter opening some of her first Chanukah presents- BOOKS!  Both of my girls have always loved books.  My daughter will be 11 years old tomorrow.  Where does the time go?

We celebrate Chanukah in our family.  When my girls were younger we would get them 8 presents (which were usually toys) for Chanukah, one for each night.  Now that they are older we don’t get them 8 big toy gifts any more.  They both have December birthdays so that is when they usually get a bigger gift from us.  For Chanukah we get them smaller gifts each night.  I started a tradition a few years ago of having a theme for each night’s presents and I am going to do that again this year.

The tentative themes for the 8 nights of Chanukah this year will be:

1st Night- Toys

My girls love Barbies and other dolls, figures, etc. so they will probably each get one special doll.  I haven’t totally figured this one out.

2nd Night- Art Supplies

Walmart has a great selection of arts and craft supplies so I will either buy them each a kit to make something or I’ll buy a bunch of art supplies for them to come up with projects on their own.

3rd Night- Movies (DVDs/Blu-rays)

I score some great DVD deals at Walmart on Black Friday.

4th Night- Clothes

I got them really cute pajamas with their favorite characters on them at Walmart on Black Friday plus I will be getting them some other cute outfits.  They love dresses so they will each probably get a new dress, too.

5th Night- Books

My girls are both bookworms, thankfully, so they LOVE getting books.  There are a few books that I knew they are both hoping for so they’ll be getting those.

6th Night- Games

This year I want to have more family game nights in our house so I am going to get them some games that we don’t have.

7th Night- Building Toys

I’ll be check out the K’NEX® Amusement Parks at Walmart’s Toyland event on Friday.  My girls love Disney World so I think my girls would like to build their own amusement park ride with K’NEX® .

8th Night- Jewelry

I bought them each a special necklace that says “You are my Sunshine, My only Sunshine” because I always sing that to them.
You Are My Sunshine Necklace

Growing up my mother used to give my sister and me our main gifts but the first night of Chanukah we always received a gift bag filled with small goodies like nail polish, stickers, lip gloss, and other small things my mother knew we would like.  It was her version of giving us stocking stuffers.  Now I do the same for my girls.  It is one tradition that I have always loved.  I hope my girls do the same when they have children.

What are your family’s holiday gift giving traditions?

chosen by kidsDo you have toys on your holiday shopping list?  Select Walmart stores around the country are having special Toyland events during the month of December.  Find a Walmart’s Holiday Toyland event near you where you can interact with this year’s hottest toys #ChosenByKids.  While you are there you can also utilize Walmart’s Free Layaway and Walmart’s Credit Card on your purchases this holiday season.  Make sure to follow #ChosenByKids on Twitter to follow along.  You can also check out Walmart’s list of 20 top toys #ChosenByKids for 2014.

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Cruelty Free Gift Ideas For Your Pets From the ASPCA Including Some DIY Gifts #SantaPaws

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Disclosure- The ASPCA sent me some toys from their online store for my furry children but I received no other compensation and all opinions are 100% my own.  I am very passionate about protecting animals.
If you’re anything like me, your pets are like your children only furrier.  We love our pets and many of us like to get our pets gifts during the holiday season.  And let’s not forget all the pet lovers on our holiday gift lists.  Studies show that over a third of Americans purchase holiday gifts for their pet.  Every year, the ASPCA encourages shoppers not to buy anything at stores that sell puppies.  You see, most pet store puppies come from puppy mills—you know, those large scale breeding operations where dogs live in horrible conditions and never receive love.  Well, every time you buy anything from a pet store that sells puppies, you’re actually supporting this very cruel industry.  Check out their holiday video below to learn about the connection between pet store puppies and puppy mills.  You can also visit No Pet Store Puppies to learn more and take the pledge to I pledge that If a pet store sells puppies, you won’t buy anything there.
Then click to tweet to share the pledge with your friends!
ASPCA behavior experts have put together some fun gift ideas for DIY enthusiasts or just those trying to cut back on costs:

(Photo Credit For All Photos In This Post ASPCA)
~To make a tasty chew toy, soak a rope toy in chicken broth and then freeze. Once frozen, give the toy to your dog for hours of savory chewing.
~For cats, rip off a piece of aluminum foil paper or tissue paper, put cat food or cat nip in it, and crumble it up into a ball. This serves a fun batting toy for hours of kitty entertainment. (I was given this idea by the ASPCA but it has been brought to my attention by a reader that tin foil might not be safe if your kitty is left unattended with the foil so use paper or tissue paper instead just in case.)  🙂
~For cats, fill plastic Easter eggs with wet cat food as a fun food puzzle.
~Rinse out an empty, cardboard milk carton, fill it with dry pet food and poke holes for a food-dispensing puzzle toy.

Here are some other cute gift ideas for pets, available on the ASPCA Online Store and the prices are very reasonable.

Gifts for pets:

5 Piece Gift Set
5-piece Dog Gift Set – $5.99

Dog Stocking Toy

Dog Stocking Toy – $8.99

Cat Play Balls 
Cat Play Balls – $1.99
DJ Cat Scratching Post

DJ Cat Scratching Post – 39.99 
Fling Ama String
Cat Fling-ama-String – 29.99 

Gifts for pet lovers:

Chocolate Dogs Cookies for People

Walker’s Shortbread Chocolate Cookies – $4.19 

aspca zales charms
Zales Diamond Pendants – prices vary depending on the piece, the pieces above are some of my favorites! 

 Symbolic Transport of Animal Rescues
Symbolic Transport of Animal Rescued from Cruelty or Disaster – $25.00 

 Symbolic Puppy Socialization
Symbolic Puppy Socialization Class – $25.00 

 Make sure to check out the ASPCA’s FULL holiday gift guide for pets and pet lovers alike.

ASPCA twitter partyMake sure to join their annual #SantaPaws Holiday Twitter party coming up on Wednesday, December 18th at 7pm EST (RSVP here) with special co-hosts Tails Magazine, The Fluffington Post and Two Little Cavaliers.
Special holiday giveaways every six minutes

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Looking For Holiday Gift Inspiration? Check Out Blurb’s 2013 Gift Guide

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Blurb wows me every year with how easy they make it to create your own high quality custom books.  Use Blurb’s 2013 Gift Guide to find inspiration!
I love the ABC children’s book on page 6 and the cookbooks on page 7.
The Gift Guide is also an instruction guide for how to make a beautiful Blurb book gift for anyone in your life. Get a head start on your Holiday gifts by creating your own Blurb book and save 20% through 10/7 with code EARLYBIRD20.

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Disney Consumer Products Preview of THE LITTLE MERMAID Merchandise #‎LittleMermaidEvent‬

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Disclosure: Disney paid for my flights, lodging, and expenses for this trip but all opinions are 100% my own.little mermaid products
If you have a Little Mermaid fan on your shopping list then you are in luck this year.  With the upcoming Diamond edition of The Little Mermaid coming out soon on DVD, Disney has a whole line of great new The Little Mermaid themed consumer products.  The Little Mermaid is loved by such a wide audience from children to grown women so I love that Disney has products for every Ariel fan.
When I went to Los Angeles a few weeks ago I was lucky to be a part of a Little Mermaid dinner where we were given a sneak preview of many of the new Little Mermaid products and now I get to share them with my readers.  Enjoy!
Toys and Dolls
Photo Copyright Disney Consumer Products

Disney’s Animators’ Collection Ariel Doll Deluxe Bathtub Gift Set
This 16 inch doll comes complete with seashell bathtub, terrycloth bath costume, satin nightdress, Sebastian, and even a DINGLEHOPPER!  This is a great doll for a toddler and is available at the Disney Store with suggested retail price of $49.95.
little mermaid plush
Photo Copyright Disney Consumer Products

The Little Mermaid Plush Collection
This plush collection features all of your favorite characters from The Little Mermaid including Ariel, Prince Eric, Ursula, Flounder, Scuttle, Sebastian, Max, Flotsam, and Jetsam.  They are available at the Disney Store with suggested retail price of $9.95 to $19.95.
Mermaid to Princess Ariel
Photo Copyright Disney Consumer Products

Disney Princess Mermaid-to-Princess Ariel
My girls love this doll.  She sings two different songs from the movie as she transforms from a mermaid to a human and back again.  She features a beautiful shimmering gown and sparkly tail.  It is made by Mattel and has a suggested retail price of $24.99.   If your daughter loves to play with Barbie dolls, this one’s for her!
Ariel royal ship
Photo Copyright Disney Consumer Products

Disney Princess Ariel Royal Ship
Take your adventures out to sea with this fun 2 level, expandable ship.  Includes vanity, mermaid-princess bed, and lots of other treasure surprises!  It is made by Mattel and has a suggested retail price of $49.99.
Little Mermaid Deluxe Doll Gift Set
Photo Copyright Disney Consumer Products

The Little Mermaid Deluxe Doll Gift Set
I love this deluxe gift set.  Not only are the dolls beautifully done but it features 2 exclusive 12″ characters, Ursula and for the first time ever, her alter-ego Vanessa!  This 5 piece box set also has little Scuttle, Sebastian, and Flounder figures so your little one can act out her own undersea adventures.  You can find this set at the Disney Store and it has a suggested retail price of $79.95.

Under the Sea Surprise Ariel
My girls love playing in the shower and bath with dolls and this special doll has a magical surprise.  When you place Ariel in water her fins light up to create a magical rainbow of color.  She also sings and says sounds and phrases from favorite movie moments.  She is one of my favorite Ariel dolls and I know my girls would love playing with her.  Who am I kidding?  I would love playing with her myself.  Who said a grown mommy can’t play with dolls?  It is made by JAKKS Pacific and has a suggested retail price of $29.99.

Holiday Princess 2013- The Little Mermaid
Look how beautiful the 2013 Little Mermaid Holiday Princess is with her sparkly white and turquoise dress, tiara, and dangling earrings.  Is it too early to add her to my wish list?

Dress-up/Pretend Play
Ariel Costume Collection
Photo Copyright Disney Consumer Products

Ariel Costume Collection for Girls (left) and Ariel Musical Light Up Dress (right)
Dressing up as the Little Mermaid has always been my daughters favorite costume and Disney has some really beautiful costumes available.  The Disney Store has the Ariel costume, tiara, and wand with a suggested retail price from $12.95-$44.95.  Want a little extra sparkle and shimmer?  JAKKS Pacific’s Ariel costume both lights up with magical motion-activated lights and also plays “Under the Sea”.  I was like a little kid when I saw this costume for the first time.  I had the Disney rep push the button several times so I could hear the dress sing and flash it’s lights.

Apparel and Accessories
Photo Copyright Disney Consumer Products

Little Mermaid Tanks and Tees
I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the grown-up style of the Little Mermaid Tanks and Tees that are available at Hot Topic with a suggested retail price starting at $9.00.  They also have other Little Mermaid merchandise, too, so make sure to check it out.  I love that there is so much stuff for the older Little Mermaid fans!

Photo Copyright Disney Consumer Products

Ariel Long John Pajamas
This cuddly pj set is made of 100% organically grown cotton and has ready-to-grow cuffs to keep the fit neatly in place.  My girls dream of a night cold enough in FL to wear these pjs but you can find them at Hanna Andersson with a suggested retail price of $42.00.
Photo Copyright Disney Consumer Products

Ariel Charm Bracelet
Charm bracelets are so much fun and this is one of my favorites.  It features 10 charms of favorite characters and icons from The Little Mermaid on a silver-tone link bracelet.  It is bright, colorful, and will go with any fashionista’s wardrobe.  You can find this beauty at the Disney Store with a suggested retail price of $16.95.

Disney Reigning Beauties Ariel Collection by Sephora
I am so excited for this collection.  I won the nail polish set playing trivia at the dinner and the colors are so pretty.  My favorite is the sparkly white which looks great by itself or over other colors.  Sephora has an assortment of cosemetics, a signature fragrance, and other accessories inspired by our favorite red-headed mermaid.  I love the attention to detail on the packaging.  Look at the hidden figures in the barcodes.  Who do you see?
upc code

I don’t have a Christmas tree but I LOVE LOVE LOVE these ornaments.  The Ariel on the right is my favorite.  I need to think of a creative place to put her because I WANT ONE!

What are your favorite Little Mermaid products?


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PetSmart Holiday Gift Ideas

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The holidays are right around the corner.  Everyone is busy buying presents for their friends and family but don’t forget gifts for your 4 legged family.  PetSmart has TONS of holiday gift ideas for your dogs, cats, and more.  YES, that IS Bret Michaels on the end of that cat toy!!!
Look at these adorable holiday outfits for your dogs and cute toys for your cats.
Here are a few of the different holiday lines that are currently available:

·         The Grinch – Items ranging from scarfs and apparel accessories to dresses and coats. 

·         Bret Michaels Pets Rock™ – Debuting the collection’s first holiday items such as a Santa Tutu Dress, Santa tee and Holiday Flame Hoodie. 

·       Martha Stewart Pets™ – Holiday items include a red plaid dress, a gingerbread and elf hoodie, along with a classic grey coat. Holiday themed toys and stockings are also available. 

·         Top Paw™ – Must-have items include all things reindeer, including a Reindeer Dress, Holiday Sweater and Tee. Top Paw Stockings are also a perfect addition for over the fireplace. 

·         Disney – Pet favorites include Mickey and Minnie Mouse toys.

·         Luv-A-Pet™ – When pet parents purchase any of the items in this collection, including fleece throws, ornaments, plush toys and gift cards, 10 percent of the proceeds go to PetSmart Charities to help save the lives of homeless pets.

These are some cute mice from the Bret Michaels collection.  I love that they are cute but still have that rocker edge to them.

My favorite toy is the one above that is Bret Michaels on the end of a stick.  Gizmo loves batting it around!

How cute are these adorable holiday toys from Martha Stewart?!?!Gizmo loves crinkling these Gingerbread toys.

Chloe loves to snuggle with her Martha Stewart Gingerbread Man!Make sure to check out the PetSmart Holiday Shop for all the great holiday toys, clothes, and more!

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