Lower Holiday Stress with Marie Callender’s #HolidaySecrets #sponsored

When it comes to the holidays, our to-do list seems to grow by a mile. The transition from the kids starting school to the holidays seems like it has about a day and a half in between the two! As much fun as it is to entertain, bake, cook, shop and wrap during the holidays, it sure can raise the stress-o-meter! If you are running all over town and cooking a homemade meal every night, when do you have time to enjoy the holidays yourself? If you want a meal with a homemade taste without all the time in the kitchen, try one of the delicious meals or desserts from Marie Callender’sI am participating in a Vibrant Influencer network campaign for Marie Callender’s. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with Marie Callender’s and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.



Over at Marie Callender’s, they want you to slow down and savor the joy of the holidays. Show your family you care enough to serve them the wholesome goodness of a Marie Callender’s dinner, pot pie, family sized meal or dessert. The food from Marie Callender’s always has that extra special touch that makes it look and feel like it was made from scratch. You will find high quality ingredients in Marie’s meals like farm fresh fruits and vegetables and premium cuts of meats.


Instead of stretching myself too thin during the holidays, I am gathering the family together to enjoy the simple things. While we watch a favorite holiday TV show or wrap gifts together, I already have a Marie Callender’s Hearty Three Cheese Marina Bake or Cheesy Chicken and Rice in the oven. When the timer goes off, all I need to do is serve and enjoy! For dessert, we took the Marie Callender’s Mint Chocolate Chip Pie and decorated it with crushed candy canes. The kids and I have fun relieving a little of that holiday stress when we pulverize those candy canes and sprinkle them on the amazingly tasty Mint Chocolate Chip Pie from Marie Callender’s. So get out of the kitchen and let Marie Callender’s take care of the meal. This way, you can head into the family room and enjoy the spirit of the holiday with your loved ones.






Nokia Lumia 830 Can Make Your Holiday Brighter #MoreLumia #Cortana

Five Ways the Nokia Lumia 830 Can Make Your Holiday Brighter



Is it okay if I admit I am freaking out just a little because Christmas is officially this week!? So much to do and so little time! I think that is the anthem of pretty much any busy mom on the planet right now! I will be honest, what I can use right now is an extra pair of hands or a helpful sidekick to make the last days of the holidays a little less hectic. Well, with the new Nokia Lumia 830, I do have a helping hand. This is not just a smartphone. It is more like a brilliant genius, where have you been all my life phone! Among all of the amazing features, here are 5 that are going to be most helpful to get me through the holidays.


  1. Cortana: This is a mom’s best friend any time of the year, but right now, even more so. She is a digital assistant, backed by Bing, who can help me keep track of my appointments, remind me to pick up my dry cleaning, an extra pie for my dinner party or any number of things. Cortana gets to know me and the things I like, so she can make intelligent suggestions and she will not let me forget the boss’s birthday is on Monday! Listen to me when I tell you that Cortana will make you fall in LOVE.  I really just am starting to be overly attached and reliant on Cortana…


  1. MixRadio: This streaming music service app can offer you free, personalized music with no advertising. You can play your favorite Christmas tunes while you wrap those gifts or during your holiday party. As MixRadio gets to know your musical taste, it can help you create a mix which you can play offline, give you artist notifications, and by using the handy Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down, my music playlist gets better each time.


  1. Camera: The Lumia 830 has one of the best smartphone cameras around. With 10MP and an LED flash, you are going to be able to capture those holiday moments with amazing clarity. With a precision auto focus feature and 1080p video, your home movies will come to life before your very eyes.


  1. Cloud Storage: Have you ever had your computer crash and you lost all of your photos, important documents and other personal information? With 15GB of free OneDrive Cloud storage, you can stay connected with what matters most and never lose another file again.


  1. Power: In the case of big things come in small packages, this is the perfect example of that. The Lumia 830 has a powerful quad-core processor, a crystal clear 5 inch display and 16 GB of memory.


In addition to all of these fantastic features, there are a ton of apps you can download on your Lumia 830. You can edit photos with Afterlight, Evernote to keep track of that ever-present holiday to-do list, or BigOven which has over 30,000 recipes to tap into for all of your holiday cooking and baking (if you need testers, message me, we’re big on cookies here). Find something new to wow them with at your holiday gatherings this year with BigOven… instead of stressing out about the holidays, just get yourself the new Nokia Lumia 830.


 What are your fave phone features and apps? And how do you survive the last-minute holiday to-do list?



Thanks to our friends at Windows Phone for sending the Lumia 830 and some fun extras for holiday entertaining. Opinions are my own.

What Is Your Holiday Decorating Style? #BestDressedHome

Kmart And Sears Want To Know: What Is Your Holiday Decorating Style?

‘Tis the season to be jolly! Fa la la la la la la la la!”  What does jolly look like in (or out of) your home? Have you decorated for Christmas yet? While some people are procrastinators, others have had their decorations up since Thanksgiving. Decorating for the holidays is a tradition like none other—from decking the halls to trimming the tree—every family has its own unique way of getting their home ready for the season. My family falls just about in the middle of the two; not too early but not too last minute either. (Not like some in my family who don’t have a tree yet, and I’m not naming names or anything but you know how you are!) The folks over at Sears and Kmart recently conducted a survey about the different holiday decorating style people have and here is what they found:

  • 1 in 4 Americans will begin to deck the halls one month before the holiday.
  • 41 percent of Americans defined their signature design as “classic,” followed by “colorful” (37 percent) and “vintage” (12 percent).
  • More than half (58 percent) of participants felt the most essential decoration for the holidays was the Christmas tree.
  • Nearly 25 percent of Americans choose decorating as their favorite holiday activity, with listening to Christmas music and shopping as other favorites.

This post is part of my participation in the Kmart KClub Blogger program. Opinions are my own.


For myself and my family, the tree is definitely a main focal point of our holiday decorating. Our style is more on the classic side with some color thrown in there and all that power shopping is for sure at the bottom of my things I enjoy doing during the holidays! With the holidays are right around the corner, no retailer is better prepared to help you deck the halls than Kmart. Your house will be the jolliest on the block with a wide selection of lawn ornaments, inflatables and more. I needed a few last minute decorations for the house, so I headed out to Kmart and got myself the sweetest little inflatable and a pre-lit garland for our walkway lamppost.


To celebrate the uniqueness of this holiday tradition, Sears and Kmart are launching the Best Dressed HomeSweepstakes to capture how you and others across the US are decorating. Between 11/17-12/26, visit http://bit.ly/BestDressedHomeSweeps answer the poll questions and upload a photo of your home decked out for the holidays for a chance to win Shop Your Way points. 60 people will instantly win $50 in Shop Your Way points—you can enter daily and there will be 1 grand prize winner will win 1 million Shop Your Way points! So, for all of your holiday needs, Kmart has you covered! So what are you waiting for? Get over there and take advantage of their great selection and great prices!


The reindeer in our yard were originally from Sears, maybe 10 years ago?  They’ve lasted oh so long and we got them for such a great price. They are totally part of our holiday tradition.  Please note, this all looks so great with a little snowfall on it.

What’s your holiday decorating style?


Gift Ideas for Beer Lovers

This post brought to you by Great Clubs. The content and opinions expressed below are that of this mama loves.

Five Great Gift Ideas for Beer Lovers

Are you a beer drinker? Beer is a beverage that can be enjoyed by everyone from the president of your company to the plumber who is fixing your kitchen sink. There is something to be said about sitting down after a long day’s work and enjoying a cold and frothy beer with your friends. Throw in a game on the big screen with your favorite team playing and you are in nirvana! So, if you are a beer drinker, do you consider yourself a casual drinker or a connoisseur? A casual drinker may head to the convenience store for a 12 pack of their favorite brew while the connoisseur knows everything there is to know about the 78 types of beers and the 1,400 breweries who make them. If this sounds familiar and you are hard pressed to figure out what to get that beer over on your list, here are a few ideas:

  1. Personalized Beer Stein: A serious beer drinker needs a serious stein to drink from. A nice etched glass or pewter stein with their name or initials is a great gift for beer lovers.
  2. Specialty Glasses: For the uber serious beer drinker, consider buying them a stout, lager, pilsner, yard or wheat beer glass.
  3. Insulated Beer Growler: Keep your beer nice and cold in this cool handheld beer cooler.
  4. Stainless Steel Cooler: When you are tailgating or playing basketball at the local park, the serious beer drinker has a stainless steel cooler to keep their beer ice cold.
  5. Beer of the Month Club: This option is super cool because both the casual or seasoned beer drinker will get to try different beers each month. With Clubs of America, you get great beer at a great price, delivered right to your door.

You may already know Clubs of America for their 7 additional clubs of the month : Wine, flower, fruit, cigar, coffee, chocolate, pizza. To add to their delightfully clever and top notch quality clubs, is their Microbrewery Beer of the Month club. With prices starting at just $39.95 per month, your gift recipient will receive a 12-pack of four styles of craft beer every month, along with a monthly newsletter, Beer Expeditions, and all with free shipping and your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed! You can sign up from one month to 12 months or just keep the beer coming until you decide to cancel.

In 1994, Doug and Dirk Doretti knew microbreweries were beginning to catch on with the American public, not only were these local brewmasters passionate about their craft, but they were producing the best beers in the country. So they thought, why not a Beer of the Month Club? Now this idea has caught on and the Clubs of America Beer of the Month Club is a huge hit.

This club is a great gift for the guys on your holiday gift list. If you order now, you will get free shipping during December as well as $10 off of 6 months or $25 off 12 months using the code “Discount1.”  

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Tips to Surviving the Holidays with a Baby #TisTheSqueezin

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Happy Family Products for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Tips to Surviving the Holidays with a Baby

Being a parent can be so overwhelming, especially when it happens for the first time. Kids do not come with an instruction book, so when they get fussy or cry, it is hard to know what to do. It is even harder when you add the stress of the holidays with a new baby and that is a recipe for disaster! I know because I have known the stress of having a little one during the jolliest time of the year and it was tough! You want to enjoy your new bundle of joy while at the same time, enjoy the togetherness of this happy time of year. If you have a wee one at home, you may be better prepared with these helpful ideas.  My little guy was so easily overwhelmed and overstimulated in the early years… holidays were tough for him at times. We almost always found him wandering off into my sister’s kitchen and into her tupperware cabinet- it was familiar and I think just a way for him to kind of zone out and forget the sounds, people and general excitement of the holidays. Kids all respond differently to holiday events and activities, and we need to keep that in mind to help make things go as smoothly as possible.


  • Keep Guests To A Minimum: A young child is super susceptible to germs, so keeping the number of people around them is crucial. The last thing you want during the holiday season is to have a sick little one on your hands.
  • Keep Commitments Down: Learn to say no! The fewer parties and get-togethers you oblige yourself to, the lower yours and your babies stress level will be. Remember, babies pick up on that stress and get awfully fussy!
  • Shop Online: With many major retailers and smaller businesses offering great deals and free shipping, you can do virtually all of your shopping online. Who wants to take a little one to the mall at this time of year?
  • Limit Travel Time: If at all possible, postpone or cancel any long distance traveling you may have. Invite those friends and relatives to come to you instead. You also don’t have to have get togethers ON the holiday itself.  Why not spread it out- it’ll be easier on your little one and make the celebrations last longer!
  • Be Food Smart: You and your baby need to eat healthy, especially at this time of year when healthy foods are not always available. Whenever possible, plan ahead and stock up on nutritious foods for your baby from Happy Family, the home of organic superfoods.

happy-baby Happy Family, is a company founded and operated by moms for moms. Launching on Mother’s Day 2006, Happy Family dedicated themselves to offering premium organic food while delivering optimal nutrition for the entire family. If you want to set your baby up for a healthy future, you need to start them out eating the right nutrition. The organic foods from Happy Family will get your baby’s palate off to a good start and are made with busy moms. Happy Family offers your baby’s first cereal made with probiotics for a healthy digestive system and is the only organic cereal that contains DHA and Choline which supports brain and eye health.

Visit the Happy Family website to learn about organic baby and toddler food.happy-baby-pouch-puffs-yogurt You can also find a ton of yummy foods for baby like squeezable solids and yogurts to melt in their mouth finger foods which help with baby’s tactile development. There are also foods for your toddler and older child which are perfect to take when you are on the go and still want to eat healthy. The Happy Family line will help your family stick to your healthy eating routines during this busy holiday season as well as all year round. Join Happy Family on Facebook and enter to win during December’s #TistheSqueezin giveaways!. The #TistheSqueezin giveaway is open through December 25th.


Enjoy a $1 off coupon for Happy Family baby food pouches

 What are your tips for surviving the holidays with a baby?

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The Perfect Gift for Bookworms #ListenMore

Five Reasons Scribd Is the Perfect Gift for Bookworms

Tracking Pixel

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads, only lives one.”

George RR Martin, a Dance with Dragons

When you think about books, what immediately comes to mind? Are you a voracious reader who cannot bear to be without the words on the page that transports you into another life or world? Were you the kid who nabbed your dad’s flashlight and read far into the night? Ah, what joy a good book can bring into your life! Some have said a book is a poor man’s vacation as you can literally go anywhere as long as your mind is open to the script you are reading. It is no wonder psychologists, teachers, parents and other experts agree that children who read tend to do better in school. As corny as it sounds, a book is like a tool that opens the mind like a colorful parachute.  Just like a hammer is a must have tool for the builder, Scribd is a tool for the avid reader. With the holidays upon us, Scribd makes a wonderfully thoughtful gift to the book lover on your list. This perfect gift for bookworms post is sponsored by our friends at Scribd. Here are 5 reasons you should gift Scribd:



Photo : J Norte

  1. Affordability: At just $8.99 a month, Scribd is the most affordable subscription service in the industry. What is even better? You can try it for free for a full month before you are charged! Who doesn’t like a try it before you buy it deal?!
  2. Adaptability: You can access the vast Scribd library on virtually any device. It works on your iPad, iPhone, Android phone or tablet, your Kindle Fire as well as your web browser on your computer.
  3. Huge Library: With over half a million e-books and 30,000 audiobooks available, Scribd has the largest unlimited access subscription available. The only limit is how much you can read or hear in any given day!
  4. Portability: Do you feel like you are just too busy to read? No problem with the audiobooks from Scribd! You can listen on the way to work, while you are working out at the gym, while sitting in the carpool lane or even at the doctor’s office.
  5. Relevance: Worried you are going to sign up for a book subscription service that only offers books you read back in high school? Never! With Scribd, you get new releases as well as classics. With titles like The Hunger Games and Yes, Please from Amy Pohler, you can keep up with the most recent titles. Afraid your audio books are going to be narrated by the same person who voices your boring incoming phone message? Absolutely not! You get such voice talent as Alan Cumming and Meryl Streep, just to name a few of many greats.

scribd gc

Ready to sign up for Scribd? Right now, you can take advantage of an exclusive offer from Scribd. You can get a FREE THREE MONTH TRIAL  for my readers!. All you need to do is sign up before January 1, 2015 to take advantage of this amazing deal.  Signing up is super easy to do and just takes a few minutes. Once you sign up, you can browse the gazillion titles on your own or you can get a more customized search. By answering a few questions, Scribd can recommend titles that fit your interests and likes. What could be better than that?

scribd phone

So, for the book lover on your list, give them the gift of reading and introduce them to a whole new world from Scribd!



This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Scribd.

Frozen Peg Dolls Craft

Sorry folks, the Frozen craze is not yet over. Clothing, toys, snacks, etc… Nope, I don’t think it is going anywhere soon.

frozen peg dolls vert



These Frozen themed peg dolls are a great way to indulge their love of Frozen in a simpler way.  Handmade gifts show that you put time and attention into just the perfect gift, even kids can recognize that.  These dolls are ideally sized for travel, great for keeping the kids busy in a restaurant or at the Dr.’s office or work with smaller doll houses.  You don’t have to be an artist to paint these, the key is to use a small paintbrush and keep it simple- just a few key details make these characters completely recognizable. If you are a craft supply horder like I am you will probably only need to pick up a bag of unfinished wood pegs.


 Frozen Peg Dolls Craft


unfinished wooden peg dolls

small paintbrushes

Acrylic paint in the following colors :

light blue

light teal/aqua

pale yellow

reddish brown

purple black




Black fine tipped paint pen

white fine tipped paint pen

frozen peg doll supplies



Go ahead and put about a quarter sized dot of all your paint colors on paper plates (this makes for super easy clean up)

frozen peg dolls paint

We are going to paint these dolls in 3 different phases and let them dry well between each.

Start with Olaf- paint him white all over, set aside to dry while you move on to the other.


olaf peg dollNext paint Elsa light teal/aqua from the neck down.

Paint Anna’s Skirt area and chest blue, set aside to dry.

Once your peg dolls are dry to the touch:

Paint a dark purple cape on Anna, add detail like flowers to her dress front, paint on her hair.  Use white paint pen to add dress details (and the white streak in her hair). Add dot’s for her eyes and pink cheeks if desired. For very small detail work I use the opposite end of the brush, there is more control using the tip of the hard plastic than in bristles. Remember the key is to keep it simple.

anna collage

Paint on Elsa’s light blonde hair, don’t forget her famous side braid. Paint her light blue cape, if desired while paint is wet add a little glitter to make her cape sparkle.

frozen peg doll elsa collage


Finish of Olaf’s features like his carrot nose, eyes, arching eyebrows, buttons, and his stick arms.


If desired add a coat or two of clear spray paint to help your peg dolls last a bit longer.  Include a piece of white felt for a playmat and some small snowflake buttons or ornaments. These would be great in a sensory bin, travel case, or on their own.

Tech gifts that last the whole year

Remember the days when the thought of buying someone a new cell phone plan seemed scary? Your options were to either purchase a new plan (which would in turn need an expensive device to accompany it) AND you’d have to get locked into a contract where YOU’D be the one responsible for paying the bill each and every month.  If you didn’t want to get a contract, you could get a prepaid phone where the person would have to constantly have to purchase new minutes…but the service was far less than desirable. This post is brought to you by our friends at Straight Talk as part of the #StraightTalkTesters Ambassador program.  Opinions are my own.


Either way, it wasn’t the most appealing idea.


Straight Talk has changed the entire concept of gifting a wireless device through the holidays by bringing #StraightTalkCheer into the world of mobile devices!


With #StraightTalkCheer, buying a cell phone to gift is no longer a hassle. Not only will you find the best prices on some of the latest devices, you’ll be pleased to find affordable and convenient wireless plans as well! If network dependability is high up on your list, Straight Talk is perfect for you. Straight Talk provides nationwide coverage on America’s largest and most dependable networks for only half of the cost!

android phones

My favorite plan is Straight Talk’s no-contract $45 30-day plan with unlimited talk, text and data, with the first 3GB at high speed. With this plan, you can switch your entire family over to Straight Talk, and save yourself some extra money for the holidays! I use wi-fi at home so I can enjoy the higher speeds when I’m out and about.

galaxy4 mini

If you’re one of those that only likes to pay one time, and then have it out of the way, Straight Talk makes your deal even sweeter! By paying a one-time, flat payment for 12 months, you drop your rate to about $41.25! (I’ve been with Straight Talk coming up on 4 years and have done this for 3 of them. I LOVE it!).


If you haven’t switched to Straight Talk yet, now is definitely the time.  It may be cold outside, but it’s time to thinking about the warm months already! If you don’t already have a vacations savings set up, why not start one using the money saved from your wireless bills?

straight talk unlimited

What will you use your savings towards?

Happier Holidays (and nights) #HappierHolidaysSweeps

It’s December.  Life is HECTIC for almost everyone.  Regular life activities, but also? Holiday shopping, baking, wrapping, gifting, visiting and celebrating on top of day to day activities.  It’s fun and it’s wonderful but it can also be oh so very stressful. Even finding places for friends and family to sleep when they come over the river and through the woods- what if Grandmother’s house doesn’t have enough beds?Thanks to Country Inns & Suites for sponsoring this post.  Horribly corny revisions of the beloved Christmas poem are my own.

christmas tree

The horse may know the way to carry the sleigh but if there aren’t beds to sleep in, Grandmother’s house may not be the best place to get a good night’s rest. That’s where Country Inns & Suites come in.  They want all of us to have Happier Holidays & Nights and they are offering a 4-night stay PLUS a $300 gift card to a lucky person who uses the #HappierHolidaySweeps on Instagram or Twitter. Actually, it’s to 25 lucky Grand Prize winners, but who’s counting? :) Thanks to Country Inns & Suites for sponsoring today’s post.



Listen, we all want to have the ideal holiday memories. Life isn’t like the movies, and there aren’t always perfect arrangements.  When there aren’t- at least you have places like Country Inns & Suites to head to…unless you want Clement Clarke Moore’s works to be rewritten as follows:

The relatives were not quite nestled all snug in their beds

While visions of Sugarplums danced in their heads
And ‘Ma in (ust) her kerchief and I in (just) my cap
knew without help there’d be not a soul to nap…

christmas vacation

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
it was Aunt Bev yelling at John to pitch that tent flatter
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutter, in time to stop the crash…

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature Cabriolet and eight tiny horsepower-deer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, his relatives they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now David! Now Dana!
Now, Parker and Vincent!
On, Carla! On, Cupid!
On, Donny and Franklin!
Don’t sleep on our porch!
Or lean against the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!”

clark griswold

As dry leaves that before the wild toddlers do fly,
when they meet with an argument, threw that last pie
so up to the Country Inns & Suites the relatives they flew,
with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.


Don’t have unhappy holidays.  Book rooms at Country Inns & Suites and leave ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas the way it should be. If you and Grama don’t have room for people who come over the river and through the woods, book them at Country Inns & Suites.  Better still, enter to win the #HappierHolidaysSweeps and WIN that stay!



How do you enter? Official stuff below

  • By posting #happierholidayssweeps hashtag on Twitter or Instagram- or via registration form– entrants will be entered for a chance to win. (Or all 3, each day, one per entry method (Reg. form, Instagram and Twitter)
  • Registration in specific states and/or countries: is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are at least twenty-one (21) years old at the time of entry.
  • Program Period: 12/1/2014 @ 12:00:00 P.M. CT – 12/22/14 @ 11:59:59 A.M. CT
  • Prize(s) and Values: There will be 25 Grand Prize Winners for the entire program period. Each Grand Prize Winner will four (4) free nights at a Country Inns & Suites location, and a $300 gift card.







Last Minute Family Friendly Gift Ideas #TheHappys

Tell me I’m not the only one who still needs to find a few more gifts for the family.  I always realize at the last minute that I’m missing some fun games that we can all enjoy together.  Here are some of my favorite picks for the family….fun for all ages, parents, kids and in between! (Disclosure: Some items were received in exchange for inclusion in this post.  Others have affiliate links that support this site.  Opinions are my own).

Last Minute Family Fun Gift Guide

Last Minute Family Friendly Gift Ideas


Skylanders Trap Team – Yes, all of my family has played this.  Even the 5 year old likes to help!

The latest entry into the Skylanders series of games and toys is the Trap Team.  Kaos has broken into the dreaded Cloudcracker Prison and freed the Skyland’s most feared villans.  Using weapons made from Traptanium, it’s up to you and the Skylanders to trap the villains and return them to the Skylands, where they can fight for you!


Jenga A classic game of coordination and steady hands with a shot of engineering built in.  Jenga is played by removing rectangular blocks from a stack and placing them on top of the stack without knocking the stack over.  Simple sounding but lots of fun, this game is great for most ages and you can add to the fun by putting challenges on the blocks that have to be done after placing the block on top.


The Happy’s –This is a line of adorable and lifelike plush toys that really play with you.  The kitten will stalk and pounce, the puppies fetch and more.  They play other games and will keep your kids entertained for hours….and probably your pets, too!!  They have a lot of fun accessories you can get to make that interactive play even more fun for the family.

thehappys-upThank you to Cepia and Mom Select for letting us experience The Happy’s here in our home! 


Tamagotchi – This pet on a keychain has been around for years, but is still very popular.  There are a lot of variants, but basically it is a small egg on a keychain with a few buttons for different functions.  After you child activates the toy, it will hatch and grow up.  Your child has to feed and play with the pet, as well as clean up after and discipline it.  How the pet grows up depends on how your child cares for the pet.  They were originally targeted at teenage girls, but are appropriate for all ages. The new “age” Tamagotchi’s interact with other Tamas for interactive play.  This is a BIG hit with the tweens and grade schoolers in our area (note: as of writing this post, these are on sale at Toys R Us for $14.96).  Grab a few so the family can play Tamagotchis together!

Disney Infinity 2.0

Disney Infinity 2.0 – Calling all Disney lovers!!  This is a “sandbox” style video game, meaning the player is free to explore and play the game in many different ways following a number of different story lines.   There are 2 versions for the 2.0, the Toy Box and Marvel Super Heroes.  With either version, you can get it most current gaming systems.  Add more fun by adding other Disney Infinity characters (many are hard to find so if you see one you like, GRAB IT!) — this is a great family game that everyone can enjoy together!   It is rated E for Everyone.

Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples – This award winning party card game is fun and flexible, with many different variations in rule play. The main game involves two sets of cards, red and green apples, and involves trying to match a green apple card with an adjective on it with a red noun card out of the players hand.  The most fun, creative or interesting match as judged by another player is the winning card. It encourages fun and creative thinking and is appropriate for ages 12 and up.  Is your family not quite ready for the 12 and up version? Don’t worry- there are many other versions including one for the 7 and up crowd that are just as fun and include everyone.  There’s a Biblical version, a Sour version, Disney version, party box, big pictures, and you can EVEN used to be able to find Apples to Apples in the teeniest form over at AmericanGirl.com in one of the playsets (Check eBay for it now!).  This is truly a favorite across my extended family.  A favorite gift to give!

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride – This is an award winning board game, although there are also iPad, XBoX and computer versions of it.  Each player is dealt train car cards and destination ticket cards, which the players secretly try to connect.  It’s for ages 8 and up. I’d actually not heard of it before Black Friday and since then? I see it and hear about it everywhere. It’s pretty awesome to see an historic board game so popular as a holiday gift, isn’t it? There are also other versions and expansion packs available.

Spot It

Spot It – This is a pattern recognition game where players try to find an image shown on two cards.  There are many different versions available with sports, language, Disney and other themes.  Appropriate for ages 7 and up for most versions. There are some popular character versions for the preschool crowd as well. The tins are small and portable so these are awesome to pack for family trips.  Great for 2-8 players!

Snowman Kit

Snowman Kit – There are a lot of different variants available from a lot of different sources, ranging from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars.  They come with everything you’ll need to make a snowman, except the snow! Next time the kids start asking “Do you wanna build a snowman?” you can surprise them with this!

Double Shutter

Double Shutter – This fun strategy game involves a good bit of chance as well as strategy.  It’s a math based game where you roll two dice and turn down tiles to match the number you roll with the object of getting as many tiles down as possible for the lowest score.  It can be played solo or with friends and is great if you have only a few minutes to kill or if you want to do a marathon.


Yahtzee – This classic dice game requires you to roll certain combinations on 5 dice in 3 tries.  Each combination is worth a certain number of points and the player with the highest point total at the end of the game wins.  This is a fun game that sneaks in some educational value by practicing math and strategy. You can find themed versions in different places- and there are also Jr. Versions around as well.  (If anyone has the Yahtzee Jr. Disney and has a spare Goofy, let me know! Ours went missing right around the time we got kittens…)

Hover Ball

Hover Ball – Hover Ball is designed with a flat surface underneath that allows it to glide across any floor surface, appearing to “magically hover.” It is really just gliding but that’s okay, it’s still fun! The soft material of the Hover Ball is safe and is less likely than regular balls to damage your home. This indoor soccer ball will not scratch up the surface of any floor, furniture or walls. Sometimes mom DOES let you play ball in the house!!  This is great for gross motor on yucky gross days :)


What’s left on your holiday shopping list? Do you do family-friendly games that everyone can enjoy?