Surviving the Holidays With Out-of-Town Guests #HamptonHoliday #giveaway

This post about surviving the holidays with out of town guests is sponsored.  

Let’s be honest. You love your friends and family, but cramming everyone into your house for days at a time can be stressful and add to your already lengthy holiday host to-do list! Don’t have enough room at home for your out-of-town guests? Don’t worry! Your guests will be sitting pretty at Hampton! The Hampton Hotels brand is an award-winning leader in the mid-priced hotel segment, meaning it won’t cost an arm and a leg to make sure they receive high-quality service. With nearly 2,000 properties totaling more than 186,000 rooms in 14 countries and territories, Hampton Hotels are always easy to find!
Nervous about sending your guests to a hotel? Don’t be! Hampton Inn is supported by the 100% HamptonGuarantee®, reinforcing its commitment to providing excellent service to both business and leisure travelers alike. Plus, your guests won’t have to be bored or hungry – they’ll have access to free wi-fi during their stay, and get a free hot breakfast each morning.

HamptonHotelHolidayImages

I always post a schedule for everyone to see so they’ll know what to expect during their stay. Don’t overbook your guests, though. It’s important to schedule plenty of free time for them to do their own exploring or relaxing if they want to. Channel your local Hampton front desk concierges and be your guest’s hometown concierge by providing them with a list of activities to do in the area.

We all feel better with some fresh air in our lungs. I’d be lost without my daily exercise to clear my head and invigorate my spirit. Invite your guests on a walk with hot coffee (or hot cocoa!) and everyone will feel refreshed! Suggest an evening stroll through your local neighborhood to check out the holiday decorations. Guests at Hampton can also get energized and make time for a workout as most locations have fitness centers and swimming pools.

At the end of the day, hosting out-of-town guests comes down to two things: planning and patience. Sometimes our schedules won’t go as planned – and that’s where patience comes in! Do as much preparation in advance as you can. Plan menus around recipes that can be made ahead of time – freezer-friendly, one-dish meals like lasagna, or a hearty-braised beef stew are great options when serving a crowd. Run a supermarket sweep a few days before for toiletries. Do your own laundry before guests arrive, so that the washer and dryer can be available for them, if necessary. The ultimate holiday hosts know that being prepared is the absolute best way to make your guests feel welcome in your home because you can actually enjoy them while they are there!

Follow Hampton on: Facebook, Twitter  and Instagram.

What do you do to prepare for out-of-town guests?

One reader will win a free night’s stay at any Hampton Hotel located in the United States! 

Wordless Wednesday: Microsoft Minion visits Seattle #WindowsChampion #Seattle

Of course, if you know me, I’m never actually wordless. So this is fewer-than-normal Word Wednesday? These pics are from my Seattle trip last month with Microsoft.  The kids were wanting to know what I was going to be doing when I was away and instead of bringing a toy from all 3 of them as they wanted, we decided I’d just bring one little Minion with me and I promised to take many photos of the Minion exploring Seattle.

Minion-flies-to-Seattle

I’m pretty sure my seat mates at 5am thought I was all kinds of weird.

Minion-arrives-in-seattle

Here he is in the Seattle airport

minion-visits-seattle-underground-tourAfter we had some lunch and met with all of the nice Microsoft and Windows PR peeps, we went to explore Seattle underground at BILL SPEIDEL’S UNDERGROUND TOUR .  Being from New England, I don’t know a lot about the history of Seattle- it’s just not in all of our texts in school, etc.  So I was learning so much on the tour. But also- it’s fun, and a really cool way to see the city and literally see behind (and under) the scenes.  Our guide was Kari (I think that is how you spell it) so if you get her for a guide, tell her she’s fabulous and remembered all the way in CT!

minon-takes-BILLSPEIDEL-UNDERGROUND-TOUR-seattle

 There are many who have seen ghosts behind where Minion is sitting.  We did not- at least in this picture.

minion-underground-tour-seattle-rats

Minion and I were happy this was the ONLY rat we saw at the Underground Tour!

We also got to explore Windows 8.1 when we were in Seattle.  You’ll be happy to know that there ARE Minion apps.  Many of them.

minion-learns-windows81

Once we learned about Windows 8.1 a bit more, we got to play with some of the newer Windows Phones.  By play with, I mean we got to see things in Seattle and take lots of photos.

nokia-lumia-windows-phones

First stop? Chihuly Garden and Glass

minion-seattle-chihuly-glass

The Chihuly museum was amazing.  Just breathtaking- and it blew my mind that this was all from glass.  Definitely a must-see for you if you head to Seattle.  They also have a delightful cafe in the museum with amazing dishes and there are many of Chihuly’s collections on display. DELICIOUS food.

minion-seattle-chihuly-glass

That’s a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie with bourbon and caramel sauce.  This I was served after a pear ravioli that was over the moon good.

seattle-space-needle

Next we got to see the Space Needle!  Which happens to be just  next door to Chihuly Garden and Glass.

space-needle-seattle

After the Space Needle, we headed over for a tour of the ever-famous Pike Place Market.  On the way to meet our Tour Guides, we met with the most disgusting landmark I’ve seen and it was so grossly fascinating!! The Gum Wall. Have you heard of it? GERMS!! But really kind of cool to see.  Seriously. Just don’t touch it.

seattle-gum-wall

minion-pike-place-market

pike-place-market-monkfish

Have you been to Seattle? What were your favorite places to go? 

Printable Gift Bag Templates Make Gift Wrapping a Snap

This post about printable gift bag templates was sponsored by Lunchbox. All opinions are my own.

We are snowed in here, even my husband’ is working from home today. Which gave ME the chance to slip downstairs and get some much needed wrapping done.  Except that I discovered 2 little kittens found the wrapping supplies and destroyed half my gift bags!!  I needed to keep going while I had some time… and in a panic I started telling my husband I was going to run to the store for some bags.  That went over like a lead balloon!

nestle-holiday

BUT then I remembered that Nestle is doing this AWESOME Holiday Countdown campaign right now and every few days is a new freebie (and chance to win awesome prizes) and today is December 17- the day there are free printable gift bag templates!! Head to the Nestlé Solutions Center: Holiday Countdown and click on the 17th.  That brings you to where you can download the printable template. Please note: after an hour of trying my friend Janel helped me realize if you have a pop-up blocker, you have to right click and open the PDF download in a new window!!)

nestle-diy-printable-gift-bag

The kids all have asked to give a little something to their friends- these little bags are the perfect size to tuck a few little Nestle holiday candies into, or a rubber band bracelet.  Nothing big, nothing fancy, but a little something nonetheless.  We may even bring a few pieces of fudge to our older neighbor behind us – she’d not eat more than a few pieces anyway and I’m sure it will brighten her day!!

 nestle-holiday

AND… while you are downloading that gift bag template, enter for the chance to win a $100 Walmart Gift Card! You get one entry per day on the Season of Surprises calendar. Check each card for that day’s entry form. Winners will be notified by email after the New Year.

Countdown to the holidays with Nestle! A few times a week from November 18th to December 31st, we will be unveiling a new holiday treat for the whole family to enjoy at Walmart.com!

These treats can range from online activities, such as holiday eCard creators, printable crafts and even gift card giveaways! There will be several Walmart gift card entry periods, with gift card prizes ranging from $25-$100. We won’t reveal which days the prizes will be available, so visit Walmart.com often to find them!

What would you put into these cute little gift bags? 

Gift Ideas for Men

Some of these gift ideas for men were received in exchange for inclusion in the gift guide.  Others we just love.  Some items were donated to local organizations or national organizations for those less fortunate.

ggforboys (1)

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker

This little machine is awesome. Preheat the maker, grab your ingredients, and make your own delicious breakfast sandwich maker just like at a fast food place- but this way, you know just whats going IN that sandwich.  You’ll save money making your own, too.  GREAT gift- my hubby makes eggy sandwiches daily before work and this saves a lot of time!

hamilton-beach-breakfast-sandwich-maker

Phiten and Be The Match:

be-the-match-phiten

Photo Credit: Phiten.com

  • Every four minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukemia, yet only half receive the treatment they need. It can happen to anyone, at any time. But there is a cure, a marrow transplant. That’s why Phiten has partnered with Be The Match, a nonprofit organization that helps save the lives of people with blood cancer. The Phiten Help Be The Match Eliminate Blood Cancer program and the sale of the limited edition Tornado necklace will raise money to support the mission that every person who needs a bone marrow transplant receives one.
  • The limited edition Tornado necklaces will be available for $35 exclusively at www.PhitenUSA.com/BeTheMatch.  With the purchase of this necklace, 25% of net sales support the Be The Match mission to save lives through marrow transplants.

 

Stoneware Pickling Crock

This is my favorite gift for my husband (who won’t be reading this so I’m safe to share).  He’s really gotten into pickling and canning since we’ve been doing more and more gardening and when my friend Julie mentioned she was getting one of these pickling crocks for her hubby, I knew I’d just discovered a perfect gift!

stoneware-pickling-crock

 

New release movies-

The Lone Ranger is one I’m sicking in Mr. Martin’s stocking…but Iron Man 3 is  a great option too! Not wanting a new release? Grab an old series he loved and buy a few seaons (or the series)

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer star in THE LONE RANGER, from Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Director Gore Verbinski. It’s a wild ride of high-velocity action, explosions and gunfights that brings the famed masked legend to life through brand-new eyes. The Lone Ranger (Hammer), the last of his kind, teams with Tonto (Depp), a dark and mysterious vigilante, to seek vengeance after justice has failed them. It’s a runaway train of epic surprises, as these two unlikely heroes must learn to work together before the ultimate showdown between good and evil explodes.

lone-ranger-box

BOGS Socks

  • BOGS CLIMATECH™ SOCKS retain heat with thermal polypropylene and naturally soft, absorbent Tencel® yarn. Bogs Channel Air design, on the sole, maximizes breathability while the AEGIS Microbe Shield™ controls odor (Imported).
  • Medium socks fit boot sizes 8 – 11

My hubby works outdoors a LOT and I like knowing he’s warm enough.  I’m pretty sure he likes to be comfortable. Great quality socks are a MUST for him- comfortable and warm!

mens-socks-bogs

 

Cards Against Humanity

(Please note- this game is purported to be AWESOME. It’s NOT for everyone, but if you have a sense of humor like we do, you’ll probably love it)

cards-against-humanity

Cards Against Humanity is a party game for horrible people. Unlike most of the party games you’ve played before, Cards Against Humanity is as despicable and awkward as you and your friends.

The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a Black Card, and everyone else answers with their funniest White Card.

 

Philips Norelco Shave Style Groom Kit

  • Comfortcut blades glide gently for a smooth, close shave
  • Body shaver and trimmer comfortably trims and shaves below the neck
  • Beard styler has 5 length settings to create anything from a perfect stubble to a neatly trimmed beard
  • Aquatec technology allows for a refreshing wet shave with gel or foam or a convenient dry shave
  • Battery indicator with up to 40 minutes of cordless shaving

phillips-shave-style-grooming-kit

American Girl Gift Ideas

Here are several American Girl Gift Ideas  for that girl in your life who just loves her 18 inch doll play!! American Girl Gift Guide


American Girl of 2013  – Saige Doll & Paperback Book $179


Doll Wheelchair Set for 18″ Dolls $36.95


Doll Soccer Outfit $23.50


Doll Bunk Beds With Ladder $35


Doll Cheerleader Outfit Set $12.95


18″ Doll Cookware Set $15.95


Junior Girl Scout $14.99


Lavender Field ~ Party Doll Dress & Sandals $24.95


Doll Scooter & Helmet Set $22.95


Salon Doll Chair $27.95

julie-mini-doll

American Girl Mini Dolls $12.48 to $26.50

American Girl Clothing:

American Girl dolls are a toy that every little girl wants at one point in her life. Not only are they beautiful, special, and lots of fun, but the fact that your child and their doll can dress the same is pretty darn neat.

This holiday season is the perfect time to let your little girl dress the same as her doll.

With the super cute holiday dresses available from American Girl, there is no reason not to!

Red is the perfect holiday color, and when you pair that with sparkles, you have the perfect dress. Available for big girls and little girls, plus their dolls – this is one dress that you don’t want to miss out on.

american-girl-twinkle-party-dress

The little girls Twinkle Party Dress features a knit bodice with puff sleeves, an adorable bow, and a sparkly mesh bubble-skirt. Available with a matching satin-covered headband, this outfit is sure to be a favorite. Available in sizes 3 to 7, it matches perfectly with the doll version (that fits the Bitty Baby and Baby Twins).

american-girl-sparkle-party-dress

For older girls, the Sparkle Party Dress is where it’s at. This fancy, sleeveless dress has just the right amount of sparkly in the mesh bubble-skirt, and ties in the back with a satin sash. Finish off the look with a luxurious cream-colored shrug and matching rhinestone-studded satin headband. This fabulous outfit is available in girls sizes 6 to 16, and the matching ensemble is available for the larger American Girl dolls.

12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Inspiration from Bing Smart Search #ThisIsBing

I want to thank Bing Smart Search for sponsoring this post and inspiring me to find some super yummy Christmas Cookies recipes! When I decided I wanted to do the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies feature, I realized quickly I didn’t want to just do the cookies that my family has known and loved for decades.  I wanted to kind of go out of the comfort zone and try some fun NEW (to us) ideas.  Having fallen in love with Bing last June at BlogHer Food Conference, naturally, I turned to Bing Smart Search for some insipiration for ideas.

The result of my Bing Smart Search is in progress already, and you can find all of the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies Recipes on my site.

12-days-of-christmas-cookies

It occurred to me that perhaps not everyone knows HOW to use Bing’s Smart Search, but let me tell you, you want to. I may even give you an assignment.  (Homework: do a Bing Smart Search for Robert Downy Junior. Enjoy the results. Or George Clooney.  Ryan Gosling perhaps?) I learned more about this great new search super-engine when I was in Seattle last month, and I want you all to “get it” like I do, because the results you find when you use this tool are SO much more than just links.

bing-smart-search-my-search

Bing Smart Search is like this whole new way of finding information, images, recipes and inspiration from any Windows 8.1 device.  With Smart Search, you don’t have to open an app or a window, just swipe from the right to open the search bar or start typing in Windows and you can find your doc, photo, app, link, information,images…the list goes on and on.  When a web page comes up, you can preview the content before clicking on it.  With Bing, you get a “Smart” summary of results. For a variety of popular searches, you’ll see a rich, visual summary of the most relevant information from across the web and apps. We’ve all gone to sites that matched search terms only to find the content is not relevant to what you were looking for, right?   Bing Smart Search is how I found inspiration for many of the cookie recipes shared in the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies Feature!

bing-smart-search-preview-pages

With Smart Search, youou’ll get results from contacts on social media and from the internet in general.  Bing Boards are going to offer very visual content with multiple images in each (which is always a help when I am trying to make new recipes or do some new cooking technique or cut of meat I haven’t attempted before).  Plain old searches are a thing of the past with Smart Search.  And I’m telling you, being an example of it, once you Smart Search, you won’t go back.  You’ll never want to! I went over to “Team Bing” in June and haven’t looked back! The only things I’m missing are a Windows Tablet (in progress) and Windows Phone (change date TBD).  The Smart Search works with a simple swipe of your finger (or mouse, but why use a mouse when the swipe is more fun!?)  Check out the 30 second video that will walk you through Smart Search and see for yourself.  (I wanted a video of my own but none have been under 4 minutes and aren’t so to the point).

 

 What are YOU searching for today?  And which of the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies is your favorite so far? 

Because i love Bing’s Smart Search so much, I want to encourage you to check it out- and yes, I’m putting my money where my mouth is.  One of you will be winning $50 paypal (and this is open worldwide) for giving the Smart Search a try. Entry instructions on Giveaway Tools form below) 

 

Gift Ideas for Women

Here are some gift ideas for women – not just for holiday time! Some of these items were received in exchange for gift guide inclusion- some were donated to those less fortunate.  Opinions are my own.
ggforwomen
cyndi-bands
Quality hair ties are pretty hard to come by. Most of the ones found in the supermarket only last for a week or two as best, and honestly, I lose them just as often as I break them. And don’t even get me started on how often my hair gets damaged by them.
Thankfully, Cyndi Bands are much different than your typical hair tie.
Available in huge variety of colors and prints, the Cyndi Bands are wider and much more comfortable to wear than the standard thin variety found in stores. Plus they are super gentle on your hair.
Each Cyndi Band is made from a soft, flat elastic that will not snag or damage you hair. Even better – the days of being frustrated over ponytail creases are now over!
Cyndi Bands are currently available as a hair tie or as a headband, and come in multiple pack sizes. There are tons of different sets to chose from and there is even the option to create your own custom set full of all your favorite colors!
Gift sets are available, as are some really cute holiday gift tags – each with its own Cyndi Band of course! You can even have your hair ties and headbands personalized with your company logo for a big event.
Not only do these hair ties look great in your hair, they also look nice around your wrist; meaning that you will never have a reason to be without a hair tie again!

YUKO Hair

anti-frizz-yuko-home-kit

Yuko’s Anti-Frizz Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-in Conditioner and Anti-Frizz Hair Serum are perfect for getting hair holiday ready and are fantastic for any hair type.

· These are great products for the holiday season as they leave hair, smooth, silky and shiny and provide hair with nutrients, protect it from harsh weather, and keep it from getting dry and brittle.

· The products make hair more manageable and healthy not only through the holiday season, but all year long. Additionally, Yuko uses gentle formulations that include naturally-derived ingredients and are free of harsh chemicals like sulfates, petrochemicals, parabens and sodium chloride.

· The ‘ANTI-FRIZZ BY YUKO’ Home Hair Care Line is available to consumers at more than 70,000 salons worldwide as well as Amazon.com and www.YUKO-USA.com.

My favorite thing about the Yuko line?  It actually works.  I’ve been ready to chop off my hair I have hate hate hated the frizz so much but in the few weeks I’ve been using Yuko I’ve seen a big difference and it makes me less crabby.

 

BOGS Boots

I’ve needed some good waterproof boots for a long time. I have kids who love to play in the snow and i want to be out there with them! I have a super WIDE foot and wear these with ease. We’ve had a few snow events here already and I’m ecstatic to say that my feet were both warm and dry.  That’s a win!  Now I just need to get myself some snowpants…
  • Height: 15”
  • 100% waterproof
  • Constructed with 7mm waterproof Neo-Tech™
  • Bogs Max-Wick moisture wicking technology to reduce moisture and stay comfortable
  • Non-slip and non-marking outsole
  • DuraFresh biotechnology activates to fight unwanted odors
  • Dual-density,contoured EVA insole
  • Easy pull-on handles
  • Comfort rated from temperate to -40°F/-40°C

bogs-boots-women

Magellan Smart GPS 

magellan-smart-gps

 If she’s anything like me….having a GPS is a safety measure everyone will appreciate.  Having a GPS that can help you find a good restaurant/shop/place to sleep? Priceless. For those of us who don’t have a new car that’s equipped with a built in bluetooth GPS, we have to look to after market availability.  Magellan meets that need.  Now I just need the back up camera.  That’s on my wish list for 2014.  We drive 3 older vehicles- 1997, 2001, 2004 (my van) and none have the backup camera nor blue tooth enabled.  In fact, none has a phone input.  Two do have combo CD/Tape decks though!
So why a SmartGPS?
  • Save money by receiving gas prices, based on your location from your preferred stations
  • Connect to Dash and Send Destinations and Contacts to SmartGPS from your Smartphone
  • Receive Dynamic Navigation Content Automatically: Best Parking, Weather, Traffic Camera Alerts by PhantomALERT
  • Yelp & Foursquare: Reviews, Ratings and Money-saving Deals Received Automatically
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth along with premium & safety features: Speed Limit Warnings, Hands-free Calling, Customizable Screens, Free Lifetime Map Updates & Traffic Alerts and more

Other Ideas and Suggestions:

Camera Strap and/or case/bag.

No matter what size the camera, there’s usually a cute strap or bag available for it.  I like matchy sets myself.

Nice Pajamas

– I discovered The Cat’s PJs through another blog recently and holy moly. I’m in love with 80% of their pajamas. Of course, I adore bed, and pillows, and pajamas. So there’s that. But some nice pajamas will be very appreciated!the cats pjs

Gift Ideas for Girls

Some of these gift ideas for girls  were received in exchange for inclusion in the gift guide.  Others we just love.  Some items were donated to local organizations or national organizations for those less fortunate.

ggforgirls

American Girl Clothing:

American Girl dolls are a toy that every little girl wants at one point in her life. Not only are they beautiful, special, and lots of fun, but the fact that your child and their doll can dress the same is pretty darn neat.

This holiday season is the perfect time to let your little girl dress the same as her doll.

With the super cute holiday dresses available from American Girl, there is no reason not to!

Red is the perfect holiday color, and when you pair that with sparkles, you have the perfect dress. Available for big girls and little girls, plus their dolls – this is one dress that you don’t want to miss out on.

american-girl-twinkle-party-dress

The little girls Twinkle Party Dress features a knit bodice with puff sleeves, an adorable bow, and a sparkly mesh bubble-skirt. Available with a matching satin-covered headband, this outfit is sure to be a favorite. Available in sizes 3 to 7, it matches perfectly with the doll version (that fits the Bitty Baby and Baby Twins).

american-girl-sparkle-party-dress

For bigger girls, the Sparkle Party Dress is where it’s at. This fancy, sleeveless dress has just the right amount of sparkly in the mesh bubble-skirt, and ties in the back with a satin sash. Finish off the look with a luxurious cream-colored shrug and matching rhinestone-studded satin headband. This fabulous outfit is available in girls sizes 6 to 16, and the matching ensemble is available for the larger American Girl dolls.

 Goldie Blox 

goldie-blox-and-spinning-machine-engineering-for-girls

 This is one of my favorite things my girls will be getting this year for Christmas.  I’ve been excited about this company and their products since I heard the first inklings of a toy concept that encourages engineering and spatial thinking…for girls.  I’m not necessarily one to buy into the boy / girl toy thing but I’ve long said that many “girl” versions of toys that echo the concepts in using GoldieBlox seem to be dumbed down.  Goldie Blox has taken those skills and elevated them on a whole new level.  It’s no wonder they are selling like hotcakes.

 

goldie-blox-parade-float-engineering-for-girls

PlayMG Mobile Android Entertainment System Bundle with Charger – 24GB Storage

(We loved this last year too!)

play-mg

Parents, get your phones and tablets BACK from the kids!  A portable does-everything-but-make-calls smartphone (I guess you could say it’s a smart device??)  that fits in a (largish) pocket and comes bundled with all you need to get going!!

And parents, we have control measures!! YES! No More Over Spending Issues With The Prepaid MasterCard®. Included with every PlayMG is an optional dedicated SpendSmartTM Prepaid MasterCard that helps manage app spending. Get $10 free when you sign up and add at least $10. Manage your app spending through a real-time balance on your home screen! 

Not only have Olivia Holt (Disney) and Kyrie Irving (NBA/Cavs) joinedPlayMG as partners/owners,  they are now fully integrated into the product experience with a new app recommendation engine and weekly app recommendations, including a widget on the home screen.

Gelarti:

gelarti-designer-studio

Stickers are lots fun, but let’s face it – they can be a bit frustrating. As a little kid, I cannot even tell you how many times I stuck my favorite sticker down on something crooked and ripped it trying to get it back it off.

Plus, most sticker packages offer the same sticker many times, instead of providing a bigger variety. This is great if you like the main sticker, but most of the time I prefer something a little more unique.

Gelarti has a fun solution to these traditional sticker downfalls.

It all starts with creating your own stickers. The Gelarti Designer Studio has everything that you need to create these mini masterpieces.

There are 6 sticker sheets filled with a variety of fun images. Simply pick the sheet with your favorites and place it on the rotating platform. Using the 3 different colored paint pens and the glitter paint, get to work making it pretty and perfect!

Finish off the look of your sticker by swirling the paint with the marbling tool and sticking on one of the fun gems or embellishment pieces that come with the kit.

After letting your unique, created-by-you stickers dry completely, stick it wherever you want.

Yup, you read that right.

Anywhere!

No, I haven’t gone crazy – these fabulous stickers are removable and re-stickable! They can be placed wherever your heart desires because it you don’t like it, you can simply move it – without having a ripped sticker or sticky residue left behind.

 

Zelfs Venus Flytrap Spin Salon

zelfs-venus-flytrap

Zelfs are a little toy full of big, imaginative fun. Only coming out when the twilight moon is in the sky, they live in a magical secret garden filled with, well, magic.  Each Zelf has a head full of wild hair, and their own special powers.

But let’s focus for a moment on that hair! It’s wild. It’s crazy. It’s tons fun. It is almost as tall as the Zelf itself (and oftentimes taller), and can really get out of control. These magical little creatures need someone to help them tame their mane!

Thankfully, Zardenia – their magical garden – has a Salon!

The Venus Flytrap Spin Salon is the perfect place in town to get a hip new style. You can curl, crimp and primp each and every Zelf that comes in and sits in the funky purple and green chair. Feed their hair into the mouth of the fly trap, push the button and let the spinning – ur – styling begin!

The Venus Flytrap Spin Salon, run by the gossipy hairdresser, Tressa, comes with hair extensions, hair accessories, and storage space (the salon folds together to look just like a potted plant!).

Available at Toys R Us and Walmart, this is must have for all homes with Zelfs in them.

 

Blingles Glimmer Glam Styler:

blingles-glimmer-glam-styler-studio
This holiday season, give the sticker lover on your list the Blingles Glitter Glam Style and let them bring on the sparkle!
Girls can create their very own stickers, and use them to customize their favorite accessories, textbook covers, bag, pencil case and so much more. The Blingles stickers are designed to stick to almost any smooth surface making them the perfect way for kids to express their very own sense of style.
Perfect for ages 6 and up, the Blingles Glimmer Glam Styler comes with everything needed to create 60 sparkly, fabulous stickers!
Included in the Blingles Glimmer Glam Styler:
  • Glimmer Style Studio
  • Glitter Styler Collection Tray
  • 1 Glimmer pen
  • 1 Glimmer brush
  • 4 different color Glitter tubs
  • 8 Sticker Sheets (Makes 60 Stickers!)
  • 10 Large Gems
  • Instruction booklet

My Little Pony Rainbow Dash Sling Gym Drawstring Bag Backpack

rainbow-dash-drawstring-backpack

Every little girl needs a backpack of her very own. One that is light enough for her to carry all by herself; and of course it has to be super cute, easy to open and close … with lots of room for her to pack all of her favorite toys.
And it wouldn’t hurt if it was fuzzy and soft, too.
Sound like an impossible task? Well, it’s not as hard as it may seem! The My Little Pony Rainbow Dash Sling Gym Drawstring Bag Backpack is just what you are looking for.
It covers all the necessities – its cute, lightweight, easy to open and close, big enough to fit all those must-bring-everywhere toys, and yes, it is even fuzzy and super soft. But the real icing on the cake is the adorable face of Rainbow Dash that covers the front of the bag.
This is a must have bag for any My Little Pony fan in your life! Cute and practical, it will quickly become your child’s favorite accessory.
Pinkie Pie Storyteller:
pinkie-pie-storyteller
What could be better than snuggling up and hearing a good story?
Cuddling up and hearing that story from a talking My Little Pony of course!
The My Little Pony Pinkie Pie Storyteller Plush Horse is sure to be any little girls best friend. Soft, cuddly and super cute, Pinkie Pie will enjoy hours of play and story time with your child.
The story controls are soft and easy to activate, insuring that even little kids will be able to work Pinkie Pie’s magic on their own. Your little one will be thrilled to see that Pinkie Pie’s mouth actually moves in sync with the stories she tells and the songs she sings, making her seem that much more alive and special.
Pinkie Pie comes with 4 full color storybooks, and she knows them all by heart. Anytime a toy can invoke a love of reading, it is quickly marked a winner for me. Recommended for kids ages 36 months and up, any My Little Pony fan will be thrilled to have Pinkie Pie as a friend.
Hello Kitty Dance Doll:
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Calling all Hello Kitty fans! For the first time ever, Hello Kitty is being offered as a large posable doll!
Now that Hello Kitty can sit, stand, turn her head and strike a pose, fans everywhere are going to have a new best friend for hours of play. Plus, the new Hello Kitty dolls feature removable clothes, offering tons of fashion possibilities!
Available in 4 different dress-up themes, these dolls are perfect for girls ages 4 and up.
The Hello Kitty Dance Doll is 13-inches of pure dancing fun! Perfect for any little girl that loves to dance, this super cute doll will be ready to practice with her all day long. Hello Kitty comes dressed to impress in an adorable removable outfit; a pink and teal dress, purple “knit” hat,  legwarmers, socks, and shoes.

Minnie Mouse BoomBox

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Pretty, pink, and super fabulous, the Minnie Mouse Sing & Stroll MP3 Boombox Purse lets your little music lover rock out in style.
Weighing in at only 1.6lbs, this mobile music station lets even the smallest of Minnie Mouse fans bring their favorite tuns with them wherever they go.
Whether you choose to sing along to the built-in Minnie songs, or plug in your very own MP3 player, this stylish “purse” will not disappoint. There is even a handy compartment on the back that can be used to hold your MP3 player, or another small item.
Special voice effect let your superstar sound just like Minnie, and there is even the ability to add an echo to their voice. And ever performer needs a standing ovation – the applause effect gives the perfect amount of encouragement for the next song!
And don’t worry about where to find a microphone – the Minnie Mouse Boombox Purse comes with a real working daisy-style one attached!

FURREAL FRIENDS DAISY PLAYS WITH ME KITTY Pet

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The FURREAL FRIENDS DAISY PLAYS WITH ME KITTY pet is an adorable orange tabby cat that is full of energy and eager for playtime! Show DAISY PLAYS WITH ME KITTY pet her toy and this frisky kitty will bat at it, swatting her paws in the air like a real cat. DAISY PLAYS WITH ME KITTY pet can rise up on her back legs and bat her paws, lower onto all fours and knead her front paws.  She even pounces forward, mewing and purring as she plays. A day full of fun makes for one tired kitten. When it’s time to wind down DAISY PLAYS WITH ME KITTY pet loves to cuddle; stroke her back and this kitty will gently purr and knead her paws as she relaxes. Includes four “AA” demo batteries. Four “AA” replacement batteries required. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on HasbroToyShop.com.

 

PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE Pony

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In the land of EQUESTRIA, studious TWILIGHT SPARKLE represents the element of magic. Now, the magic is in your hands with the PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE figure, a moving, talking pony that comes to life! The PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE pony is the most interactive MY LITTLE PONY friend to date.  This magical pony will respond to touch and motion; simply touch her cutie mark and she will move her head and blink her eyes as she awakens. Brush her mane and the PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE pony will hum songs and speak whimsical phrases as she’s being pampered. Her iridescent turquoise wings and unicorn horn illuminate with a touch, creating enchanting patterns of light. Push her along and watch as PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE pony’s wings flutter as if she was getting ready to take flight! Includes four “AA” demo batteries. Four “AA” replacement batteries required. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on HasbroToyShop.com.

What’s on your list of gift ideas for girls? Be sure to check out our gift ideas for boys too!

 

 

 

Gift Ideas for Boys

Some of these gift ideas for boys were received in exchange for inclusion in the gift guide.  Others we just love.  Some items were donated to local organizations or national organizations for those less fortunate.

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PlayMG Mobile Android Entertainment System Bundle with Charger – 24GB Storage

(We loved this last year too!)

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Parents, get your phones and tablets BACK from the kids!  A portable does-everything-but-make-calls smartphone (I guess you could say it’s a smart device??)  that fits in a (largish) pocket and comes bundled with all you need to get going!!

And parents, we have control measures!! YES! No More Over Spending Issues With The Prepaid MasterCard®. Included with every PlayMG is an optional dedicated SpendSmartTM Prepaid MasterCard that helps manage app spending. Get $10 free when you sign up and add at least $10. Manage your app spending through a real-time balance on your home screen! 

Not only have Olivia Holt (Disney) and Kyrie Irving (NBA/Cavs) joinedPlayMG as partners/owners,  they are now fully integrated into the product experience with a new app recommendation engine and weekly app recommendations, including a widget on the home screen.

Zing Blast Off – Zoom Rocketz

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A toy rocket that can zoom up to 150 feet?! Powered by air? Sounds like a good time to me!

Zoom Rocketz are lots of battery free fun, that will get your kids begging to head outside. Easy to load and aim, this rocket will be soaring through the air in no time.

How high or far it goes is all up to you, and how hard you can stomp on the launch pad. Take a running jump to help it go the distance, or give it a smaller stomp for just short trip. Make it go as high as you can or shoot it to a friend simply by adjusting the flight path. To help insure that your rocket will make it where you want it to go, each one is equipped with three roto fins. Playing a game of catch? The soft foam tip will help make that a bit easier!

Each Zoom Rocketz Launcher comes with 3 Zoom Rocketz which will equal hours of fun.

 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles –M.E.C.H. Wrekkers Raphael

(We have a whole Teenage Mutant Nina Turtle Guide you can check out !)

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With his quick-to-anger intensity and new gigantic M.E.C.H. Wrekker battle armor, Raphael stands tall as a towering inferno of fierce fighting fury! Featuring its Turtle-ized tank treads, gatling-gun missiles and robotic hands with their triple-head sai, Raphael moves into battle and gets the job done!

Retro Raphael action figure included.

Honestly, if you have a little guy who likes Ninja Turtles, there’s a ton of cool stuff that would be  great for him.  There’s a whole line of TMNT LEGOs, Role Play items, Play Sets, vehicles and the action figures.  My little guy is getting the Sewer Lair and a whole bunch of the bad guys for the Turtles to fight- as well as some TMNT socks, underwear, a pillow and more.

 

LEGO Play Book

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Building on the success of wildly popular The LEGO® Ideas BookLEGO Play Book has all-new ways to encourage kids to think, build, and play creatively.

Featuring more than 200 different builds, this fun guide inspires readers with LEGO ideas to bring their bricks to life while encouraging them to use their imagination and play in new ways, creating amazing LEGO models of their very own. Featuring a mixture of simple, medium, and complex models, LEGO Play Book will teach builders tips and tricks to get the most out of their blocks. All-new models along with all-new photography spark new play ideas and LEGO creations.

There are “ten-minute builds” for quick play sessions, a “cool brick” feature with ideas for using key LEGO bricks, and a “handful of bricks” section exploring what can be done with a limited collection of LEGO bricks. This book is fantastic for any LEGO builder looking to be inspired to build and create.

LEGO Chima Chi Lion Temple 

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  • Features large CHI orb, waterfall, golden CHI, lion gate, drawbridge trap, hidden lion bikes, eagle fighter, cannon, tower, prison, secret entrances
  • Crawley’s reptile raider features rubber track and biting mouth; Weapons include 4 CHI weapons and 2 standard weapons
  • Slam the lion gate to spring the drawbridge trap and send Cragger plummeting; Aim the tower cannon and fire the shooter; Fold walls to store
  • Measures over 12″ (31cm) high, 16″ (43cm) wide and 14″ (38cm) deep; Crawley’s reptile raider measures over 1″ (5cm) high, 5″ (15cm) long and 2″ wide
  • Lion claw bikes measure over 1″ high, 3″ long and 1″ wide; Eagle drone fighter is over 1″ high, 3″ long and 2″ wide

BEYWARRIORS SHOGUN STEEL OCTAGON SHOWDOWN Set

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This is the ultimate SHOGUN STEEL BEYWARRIOR showdown! Everything needed for a BEYWARRIOR battle is in one place with the OCTAGON SHOWDOWN set. This intricately designed arena allows BEYWARRIORS battlers to spin, crash, and ricochet against one of the eight walls for optimal BEYWARRIORS battling! The OCTAGON SHOWDOWN set includes an exclusive stadium, two customizable BEYWARRIORS battlers, two ripcords for launching, and two collector cards that can be used to unlock features to battle other Beybladers online at BeybladeBattles.com. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on HasbroToyShop.com.

 

VTech Switch ‘n’ Go Dinos Jagger T-Rex

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  • Jagger is 16″ tall and the biggest of all the Switch & Go Dinos
  • Walks and responds to 20 voice commands
  • Motorized actions make Jagger walk, drive, launch the drill and more
  • Plays over 90 wild sounds and phrases
  • Includes a small t-rex that transforms into a bulldozer

Q-Ba-Maze Marble Maze

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 Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 is a unique system of colorful cubes that interlock to form a marble run. The big difference? You can create marble maze sculptures in the form of animals, geometric shapes or any other design! Configurations are unlimited, allowing for unpredictable action when steel balls travel the various routes. It’s a live demonstration of probability, physics and art, all in one! Big Box includes 72 cubes in five different colors and 20 steel balls. Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 cubes are not compatible with original Q-Ba-Maze cubes.

 

 What are your gift ideas for boys? Be sure to check out our gift ideas for girls!