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The little book with BIG resources!

No-Toy Holiday Gift Ideas Your Kids Will Love

Psssst! Look {Inside} for a FUN GIVEAWAY!

We’re now *officially* less than 75 days away from Christmas 2017 (not that we’re counting or anything!) and our team here at iFamilyKC is excited to share some wonderful ideas, tips, and tricks for your family over the next few months. To kick things off, we’ve got some no-toy holiday gift ideas to keep the magic of the holidays alive even after the New Year. And, BONUS, we’ve got a giveaway RIGHT in this post! Take a look…


holiday gift ideas

No-Toy Holiday Gift Ideas Your Kids Will Love

There was a time in my life when I thought my family might want to explore living in a larger house. Why?! Simply put, we thought we needed more space. Life was feeling a little crowded and it wasn’t until we realized we just have too much stuff that we made the decision that more square footage wasn’t going to solve the problem in the long run – it would just make it worse with time. So we went on a mission (a long road that we’re still on, to be honest) to simplify life and get rid of all the excess stuff. Now that the holidays are approaching, we’re exploring new ideas for holiday gift giving that don’t involve toys.

We’ve got a few go-to ideas that we typically fall back on but were ready for some fresh concepts for Christmas 2017. So, we took to our brand new Community Group on Facebook (shameless plug– have you joined the iFamilyKC Kansas City parent group yet?!) to ask you for your ideas on no-toy gifts you can give the kiddos (or adults!) in your life this year. Here are some of our favorites:

#1 Books

It’s always a good time for learning and I am a huge fan of gifting books for special occasions (and normally give them for kid’s birthdays, too). Reading provides children with the opportunity to use their imagination and dive deep into other worlds.

“A reader lives a thousand lifetimes…” -George R.R. Martin 

With hundreds of thousands of different titles to select from, the possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to gifting stories for the holidays. If the special person in your life has a Kindle, tablet, or other e-reader, you could give them a gift card to purchase books onto their device. Depending on the age and reading level of your recipient, a book series can provide hours and hours of entertainment.

Some of my suggestions include:

  • Classic Children’s Books (all ages)
  • Llama Llama Red Pajama Books (toddler)
  • Pete The Cat Books (preschool)
  • Ivy & Bean Books (school aged)
  • Judy Moody Books (school aged)
  • Harry Potter Series (preteen)

#2 Experience Gifts {We’ve Got a GIVEAWAY!}

Over the last few years, my family has become really big into giving experiences as gifts (mostly to each other) and, in addition to being incredibly fun for both the giver and the receiver, they also help to bring your family closer together in ways that you might not expect (#FamilyBonding).

Each year for my daughter’s birthday, we gift her a membership to somewhere in the Kansas City area and, because KC is so full of amazing options for families, it’s awarded us with the chance to check out some fun spots across the metro over the years. We’ve done memberships to the zoo, the local botanical gardens, and to Union Station in the past and each has given us the chance to spend time together as a family – it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Many places that you can get memberships to here in the greater KC area offer tax deductions along with your purchase so you can consider that a little gift to yourself, too.

{Bonus!} Giveaway! 

We want to give YOU a head start on your gift giving this year and have a family four pack of tickets to the newly remodeled Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium ($28 Value!) AND a family four pack of tickets to Science City ($32 Value!) both at Union Station in downtown Kansas City.

Want to get in on the action?!

We’ll randomly select TWO winners (one getting Science City tickets and the other getting Planetarium tickets) on Wednesday, October 25th!

#3 Gift Cards

I’ll admit, until recently, I’d never been big into gift cards for the holidays but, now that my daughter is getting older, I am starting to see the value in all that they provide. Charlotte, who is six, absolutely LOVES shopping at the little boutique jewelry (and hair accessory, hat, makeup, toy, etc) shop in the mall. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the one I’m talking about, it’s been around since most of us were kids. Ever since I took Charlotte to get her ears pierced over the summer, she’s been obsessed with going into the store. I can understand why, it’s every little girl’s dream to have fun costume jewelry and adorable accessories all in one place.

The joy she gets in shopping for earrings, “makeup” (relax, it’s just lip gloss…we’re not there yet), and other little things that the kids enjoy these days is really special. When you give a child a gift card, you’re giving them the freedom to explore, to discover what they really enjoy, and the entertainment of shopping.

Here are a few places I suggest for gift cards:

  • Claires (they often have ‘Buy 3 Get 3 FREE’ sales so your gift card can go further.)
  • Five Below (with everything in the store UNDER $5, a little bit can go a long way.)
  • The bookstore (See #1 for more details)

#4 Subscriptions

One of the moms on our Community Group offered up a suggestion that I hadn’t thought of before. As adults, many of us enjoy subscription boxes that come once a month or once a quarter. Why not give that as a gift for the kids?! There are several great options for subscription services specifically designed with children in mind and many of them give you the flexibility of deciding how frequently you want to send the boxes (read: how much you’re willing to budget for).

We found some options that you might be interested in exploring as gift for this year (please note that we have not used these ourselves and, as such, do not provide our endorsement for any of the following) online:

  • Little Passports
  • Kiwi Crate
  • Doodle Crate
  • SproutKin

#5 A “Yes” Day

I recently read an article that discussed how utterly exhausted (and beyond happy) actress Jennifer Garner was after successfully completing a “yes day” with her kids. It’s a concept I’ve never heard of but is apparently based on the book with the same name by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

The idea is simple, spend a day with your kids and let them take the reins in planning what they want to do. You set limits (budget, time, etc) and rules for the day and then allow your kids to call the shots. If it sounds as exciting to you as it does to me, check out the book from your local Mid-Continent Public Library branch and consider giving it to your child this Christmas.

We’ll have an in depth listing of resources available to your family this season in our Annual Holiday Guide. You can pick a copy up starting November 1st in any of our 1,000 drop spots across the metro area or access it online. Also, be sure to join the discussion on the iFamilyKC Kansas City Parent Community Group on Facebook!

From iFamily to Yours,

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Four Simple Ways To Enjoy Independence Day

Independence Day is just around the corner and, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably trying to think of simple ways your family can have an enjoyable holiday this year. Look no further! Our very own iFamilyKC Mom Squad blogger has put together four ways you can enjoy the fourth this year. Take a look…

4 tips for a fabulous fourth

Four Simple Ways To Enjoy Independence Day

I love the Fourth of July. When I was a kid it meant fireworks and “God Bless the USA” on repeat, hot dogs and apple pie and as I have grown older not much has changed. I now find myself yelling at my kids not to run with the punks and don’t stand over the firework—something I am pretty sure I did more than once including the one year that I got so brave as to launch the bottle rocket from my hand! I really don’t know how I survived!

But if you are anything like my family, your summers are sometimes even busier than during the school year! We have one daughter’s birthday right before and the other daughter shortly after the holiday. Of course birthday’s in my house take precedence over ANYTHING so we always try and make it bit lower key. Here are my four easy steps to a fabulous fourth!

#1 The Food

You gotta eat right? But everyone in the neighborhood is going to have the typical hot dogs and hamburgers, which is just fine but maybe spice them up a little. The fresh meat counter at the grocery store may have something that could help there! Our family LOVES brat burgers (basically the ground up brat formed into a patty) they always have great flavors and you can make some great toppings to go one them. Instead of just a plain mayo, why not make it a spicy mayo or add some chopped up pineapple or mango salsa to really get some good flavors going!

Usually these are just as inexpensive as getting hamburger and you don’t have to make the patties yourself! Chips and dip are table staples at fourth parties, but again take a look around your local grocery and think about an additional out of the box dip. Hummus for instance or create an easy Mexican flair dip with sour cream and taco seasoning, cut up some tortillas and serve with some pico de gallo or salsa. And don’t feel like you have to do everything just because you are hosting; have your friends bring the sides or something for their kids if they have the picky eaters!

#2 The “Frinks” (sorry I couldn’t find an F-word for beverages!)

Obviously the only drink of summer is kool-aid but let’s branch out a little more! I cheated and went on Pinterest and found some really neat red, white and blue drinks one in particular I think I am going to try for the kiddos. You take a clear cup (they used milk bottles) pour in a small amount of Cranberry-apple juice, then load up on the ice pour in a little amount of SoBe Pina Colada drink (no alcohol) and then finish by pouring in a little blue Gatorade.

According to my friend on Pinterest it is supposed to work! Basically you are just stacking the drink by sugar content—more sugar goes toward the bottom. I haven’t tested this but will report back! For the adult drinks, if you are making them alcoholic just make sure they aren’t too strong. We need adults on full alert in order to watch for rogue bottle rockets or a tipped over artillery shell container (I know this from experience—sober you right up!). Beer and a nice summer sangria really hits the spot and you can dial down the hard stuff for this night.

#3 The Fireworks

You have to have them! I realize that a lot of communities around the area don’t allow fireworks for understandable reasons; chances are there is a display just a short drive away. If not a city display ask a local fireworks tent if they are planning on doing anything; a lot of them will shoot off their larger fireworks because they know they won’t sell them for this year and obviously can’t save them for next year.

If you are one of the few that can shoot off fireworks make sure you have a sturdy board or table to shoot them from. I would also recommend rigging some sort of holding device for those artillery shell launchers (see above statement) they aren’t made to really withstand much so they can get really tippy which means they are aimed straight at your guests! Putting the launcher inside the hole of a concrete block would help this tremendously!

#4 The Favors

If you have read any of my posts about parties you know that I love party favors! It’s what makes coming over to my house unique. Now is the time to start looking! Target’s dollar spot has tons of glow sticks, head bands, wands, and necklaces that are very affordable so you can buy one for everyone. Plus it looks really neat to see everyone lit up after dark. I also need to mention that it is a really nice tool to keep an eye on your kids; sometimes you can’t see them in the dark but you can see their glow stick bracelet walking ever closer to the firework launching pad! Favors and life-saving all in one package!

Have fun, be safe, and Happy Independence Day!

From iFamily to Yours,

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12 Dazzling Fireworks Displays in KC You Can’t Miss This Year!

Independence Day is almost here, Kansas City and we are so excited for all the fun in store for your family here in the metro area. If you’re looking for fun fireworks displays around the metro, we’ve compiled a list of 12 spots you don’t want to miss this year. Take a look…

fireworks displays

12 Fireworks Displays in KC You Can’t Miss This Year!

It’s almost the 4th of July and you know what that means.. FIREWORKS! Fireworks are one of the best things about the 4th of July, and if you have a crowd, they can get expensive and the process of finding the perfect spot to show them off can become tedious.  So, why not go and enjoy a show instead! There are so many places around the metro area that put on great shows for the entire family! Check out this list!

#1 River Fest

Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park, 1298 Riverfront Dr., Kansas City, MO 64101 July 4th. You can find ticket information, directions and more online!

#2 Worlds of Fun

4545 Worlds of Fun Ave July 1-4th

#3 Parkville

July 4th Celebration: English Landing Park – Over the Missouri River
8701 Clark Avein Parkville, Missouri 64152.

#4 Olathe Red, White & Blue

Various addresses July 4th. For information on parking locations visit them online.

#5 Gladstone Independence Day Celebration

Oak Grove Park July 4th. This is a free viewing and you can find more information on parking here.

#6 Red, White and Blue Springs

2000 NW Ashton Drive in Blue Springs, Missouri 64015, July 4th.

#7 Platte City Fireworks Display

High School Pirates Stadium 1501 Branch Street in Platte City, Missouri 64079.

#8 Pleasant Hill Fireworks

Skyline Field – 1301 Myrtle in Pleasant Hill, Missouri 64080.

#9 Salute to the Union Fireworks

Merritt Lake, Grant Ave., Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027 July 4th.

#10 OP Fourth of July Celebration

8717 W. 110th St.

Overland Park, KS 66210 July 4th.

#11 Westwood Fireworks Display

St. Agnes Athletic Field MONDAY JULY 3rd.

#12 July 4th Celebration in Gardner, KS 

Live music, food vendors, out of this world bounce houses, face painting, portable zip lines, interactive entertainment and one of the best fireworks displays in the area!

Before you head out to view the fireworks, check your destinations site to see if there are any rules and guidelines for pets, chairs and beverages you can bring. Some places are located on school and church campuses so glass and alcohol may be restricted. Also, fireworks have gotten louder over the years, make sure you bring noise reduction headphones or earplugs. Don’t forget the snacks and blankets too! Have a great 4th of July!

From iFamily to yours,

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Spring Fun with these FREE Printable Easter Lunch Notes

Can you all believe it, Kansas City? Easter is right around the corner! As the weather finally warms up, and the sun is finally out, we’ve got some fun ideas coming from our Mom Squad. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Erin, has a cute (and free!) Easter themed printable to share with you today. Check it out!

Spring Fun with these FREE Printable Easter Lunch Notes

 

Spring Fun with these FREE Printable Easter Lunch Notes

 

Hi guys! Easter is around the corner so I wanted to find something fun to add to the blog this week for your kiddos to look forward to before Easter break! Lunch time was one of my favorite parts of the day in school! My mom used to pack my lunch a few times a week and I looked forward to the notes she would lovingly create and put in my lunch box.

 

I LOVED seeing the notes when I opened my lunch every day, It was a little way for my mom and I to stay connected when we were apart. So, I wanted my daughter to experience the fun and love of lunch box notes just like I did! Now, I am not an artist and I never claimed to be BUT using a computer, I was able to make some pretty cute little notes and I wanted to share them with you! Print them, cut them out and add them to your child’s lunch! They will love it!

 

From iFamily to Yours,


6 Ways to Have an Unconventional Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day, Kansas City! Love is in the air, but not all of us “love” the conventional holiday. Instead of going the “anti-Valentine’s Day” route, Sarah, our Mom Squad Ambassador, has some great tips to be a bit unconventional this holiday. Check it out…

6 Ways to Have an Unconventional Valentine's Day

6 Ways to Have an Unconventional Valentine’s Day

 

In my single days, I can remember having to push people out of the way in order to avoid the Valentine’s cards, physically gag when I saw yet another couple holding hands at the movies and restaurants being so busy there was no way to even get in the door!

I attended my share of ͞Anti-Valentine’s Day͟ parties and badmouthed the opposite sex with my friends while we drank women empowering drinks and sang men bashing songs. I won’t lie it was pretty nice when my now husband and I first got together and I was the one that was rushing for reservations at our favorite restaurant or planning a romantic dinner with wine and candles. The history of Valentine’s Day and it’s patron Saint Valentine is shrouded in death and destruction and it is obvious by the number of ideas for anti-valentine’s day parties on Pinterest that the theme (although not literal death) is still quite dark and dramatic.

So yes, for many people the thought of an anti-Valentine’s celebration is attractive and many will still partake, however; why not squelch the idea of hate and anger we hear so often these days and try a few of these alternate ideas?

The Valentine’s I remember in elementary school the first time that we were encouraged to give a valentine to each student in our class; today this isn’t given as a choice—you give a card to EVERY CHILD. I did enjoy going to the store and finding my favorite character cards, filling out each one (maybe secretly kissing the one that went to my crush) and then the terrible taste of the envelope glue as I carefully sealed each one. I took my girls last week and realized the two or three choices I used to have are now filled with aisles and aisles! It took much longer than it should have because there were so many of my daughter’s favorite characters that they wanted two or three boxes; you may think you are popular, Miss 4 year-old but not 75 cards worth!

#1 Skip the Candy

From a mom that is still finding candy in the pantry from Halloween circa 2014, look to the non-candy options. Don’t be a statistic! Over 1 billion Valentine’s cards are sent every year!

 

#2 Go the boxed card route

If you do decide to go the card route—buy! You can’t beat $2.48 per box, and you certainly can’t make them!

 

#3 Make it a day of kindness

Valentine’s Day is for lovers, right?  Make it about sharing your love with everyone around you by smiling at that lone person in the street, make some cookies for the customer service group at work or bring doughnuts for the school office staff. You have no idea how much this means to them and you really have no idea how happy and loved it will make you feel too.

 

#4 Spruce up the goodness of home.

At home– sure, make a nice meal if you have time, give extra hugs and kisses and say ͞I love you͟ more than you ever have, but make a promise to yourself to do this more and more everyday not just on February 14th.

#5 One is the Loneliest Number – Not Really

Well maybe. I am an only child and secret be told, I love being alone. Not just because of everything that I do now; running around two kids, making sure the new dog has enough exercise and working on keeping my marriage running smoothly. I really liked being alone when I was younger; I just may not have realized it. So here’s an idea for all you single people; go to that movie that you have been waiting to see but go by yourself, put on something other than sweats and head to a nice restaurant, sit at the bar and strike up a conversation with someone. Or just enjoy the day shopping and exploring how you want to. If that is a little too much and you are breaking out in hives just thinking about the stares and sad looks that you will get, then head to the grocery store and splurge on whatever you want for dinner—whether that is crab legs or just cereal!

 

#6 Think outside the box of gifts…

The Gifts Oh the gifts! Raise your hand if you are still paying off Christmas gifts! And here we have to turn right around and buy something else that is either going in a drawer somewhere or head straight to our bellies that we are still trying to shrink from the overeating at Christmas! I won’t turn this into a rant on how Valentine’s is a conspiracy to boost the economy, just think wisely about gift giving. Yes I love to get gifts, just like all of you probably do, but I also purchased a purse from the 75% off sale last week so let’s be honest—maybe that was my Valentine’s gift. So this year just take a step back, take a deep breath. Realize that maybe this holiday is needed to remind us of all the love we have around us whether that be from a significant other, a child, a neighbor, or a friend who lives 3 hours away (I miss you!).

Love comes in many forms and should be celebrated as such. So I choose to teach my girls to spend Valentine’s Day just being happy, spending time with their friends, so hopefully, one day, if they don’t have anyone to spend the day with and they start to feel those dark and dramatic anti-Valentine’s day thoughts coming through—look at something beautiful; trees, artwork, or just take a glance in the mirror! It’s still just a day, you probably will gag at the hearts and hand holding but keep this in mind—Reese’s Hearts, the perfect amount of chocolate and peanut butter, come around just once a year!

 

From iFamily to Yours,

 

 

 

 


28 Ways to Show Your Valentine You Care

It’s officially February and love is in the air. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you may be scrambling for ideas of what to do for your honey. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Leah, has some great ideas of how to make your significant other feel special this time of year. Check it out…

28 Ways to Show Your Valentine You Care // iFamilyKC Blog

28 Ways to Show Your Valentine You Care

#1 Have a stay-in date night

You could Netflix a romantic comedy, grab the air mattress and put it in the living room, make a huge fort, light candles, have a pillow fight, look at photo albums together , pull out items you may have collected of places you have went together over the years,etc.

 

28 Ways to Show Your Valentine You Care // iFamilyKC Blog

 

#2 Recreate your favorite restaurant in your own home… have the kids be your “servers/ waiters”, have them hand write the menus, use their art work for place mates, light candles, have the whole family dress up, play romantic music or make a play list of “your songs”, slow dance, and exchange homemade cards.

#3 Make your partner breakfast or dinner in bed- Who wouldn’t like that?

#4 Drop off your partner and or kids their favorite meal at their work / school- make sure you include a heartfelt note <3.

#5 Make a scrapbook filled with photos and memorabilia

#6 Print out screenshots of your cutest text messages they probably forgot about- You could either make a book out of them, or hang them up around the house for them to find.

#7 Surprise them with an indoor picnic

28 Ways to Show Your Valentine You Care // iFamilyKC Blog

#8 Leave surprise notes in their car along with some of their favorite snacks

#9 Fill up their gas tank – You could clean out their car for them too!

#10 Make or order a heart-shaped pizza

#11 Send them a flirtatious text or email

#12 Wear their favorite outfit and send them a picture of you wearing it- say something like, “I am so lucky to have you. I can’t wait to see you tonight.” Or “You make our lives better. Thank you for everything you do for us.”

#13 Take a bath or shower together – or join them while they are in the shower… 😉

#14 Re-create your first date- I personally would melt if someone did this for me!

28 Ways to Show Your Valentine You Care // iFamilyKC Blog

#15 Make them a list of all the reasons why you love them- make it very detailed and include things you may not say to them all of them. Don’t just say I love your humor…. Tell them why or how they make you laugh… Include specific examples

#16 Take a whole day without being on your phone! Just be in the moment….

#17 Make them their favorite dessert

#18 Mail your in laws a card and tell them what you love about their son / daughter… thank them for raising such a great man/ woman.

#19 Have the whole family make each other cards and include what you love about each other

#20 Complete another “chore” your partner usually tackles

#21 Book a couple’s massage

#22 Have their favorite take-out delivered to the office, and pre-pay, of course.

#23 Hire a maid to come and clean the house.

#24 Surprise them with tickets to their favorite band, sports team, or movie they have been wanting to go to.

28 Ways to Show Your Valentine You Care // iFamilyKC Blog

#25 Take their car to have it serviced – get the oil changed, have it detailed, get new tires, etc.

#26 Book them a visit to the spa or their favorite hair dresser.

#27 Plan an outing with them and their closest friends while you stay at home and watch the kids.

#28 Grab them for no reason at all and kiss them passionately.

 

To learn more about Leah or follow her – please check out

http://www.facebook.com/solaceforthesoul

 

From iFamily to Yours,

 

 

 

 

 

 


25 Tips For Managing Holiday Stress

Christmas Eve is upon us here in the metro area and, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably frantically getting in those last minute errands that you’ve been putting off forgotten about, baking holiday treats, and cleaning the house in anticipation of loved ones later this evening (or in my case, first thing tomorrow morning). It’s okay, we can all be superheroes from time to time, right?! Don’t stress out, it’s all going to be fine…right? RIGHT? Thankfully, our very own iFamilyKC Mom Squad team member Leah shares her 25 tips for managing holiday stress with us right here on the blog. Take a look…

25 Ways to manage holiday stress

25 Tips For Managing Holiday Stress

If you are anything like me you are guilty of trying to do a thousand things at once. I find myself being  pulled between trying to locate the “perfect gift”, attempting to stay on budget, pull money out of thin air, working more hours to afford “the perfect gift”, ordering things online, and trying to create time to wrap gifts all while trying to balance my daily tasks. Needless to say this momma is wore out.

The holidays tend to add so much stress and chaos to our already over packed lives. Yet, their intention is to the opposite. This year I am determined to approach things differently. I don’t want my son to judge holidays based around how well I may or may not handle stress. We all know that kids see everything even when we think otherwise. I want to make sure he sees me handle things with grace. After all I cannot expect him to if I don’t.

It really is my goal to learn how to master stress so it does not master me. I know that I will not be able to completely avoid stress. However, that doesn’t mean that I cannot try to handle it better when it arrives. I have found some pretty simple ways to help make your holidays a little less hectic. I hope that you can find one or two them useful.

#1 Take an Epson Salt bath – for an added stress relief add essential  oils

#2 Create a daily gratitude journal- use this to remind yourself what you are grateful for in yourself and others

#3 Go outside for a walk or run- being around the sunlight can improve your mood

#4 Instead of stressing out over dinner give yourself permission to order out

#5 Turn on some good music

#6 Have a glass of wine

#7 Have a cup of tea- there are so many teas out there to help you relax

#8 Give your partner a massage then have them return the favor ( or just book an appointment at a salon)

#9 Go get your hair done… I always feel better after a good hair cut

#10 Set a budget and stick with it

#11 Schedule a lunch date with a friend  and share a good laugh

#12 Turn off your phone so you can get stuff done without being distracted

#13 Try to give out “group gifts” when you have to buy for a family. This will help you stay on budget. You can buy them a movie, popcorn, snacks, etc. Plus this encourages them to do something as a family.

#14 Pace yourself- you do not have to do everything in one day. I find it useful to break my to do list down to a daily list instead. This also helps me feel less overwhelmed.

#15 Take a break and go do something fun as family

#16 Go see some Christmas lights and get yourself back into the Christmas spirit

#17 Light some candles around the house

#18 Meditate – this is an amazing stress reliever

#19 Go to the gym

#20 Call a friend or a family member that puts you in a good mood

#21 Get some sleep

#22 Don’t be afraid to ask for help

#23 Don’t sweat the small stuff

#24 Remind yourself that if something does not get done there is always tomorrow

#25 Listen to yourself- only you know your limits

To follow Leah further please go to her page at  www.facebook.com/solaceforthesoul

From iFamily to yours,

Leah

leah_ifamilykc_momsquad25 tips for managing holiday stress

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5 Last-Minute Gifts You Can Purchase in Your PJs

Happy Friday, Kansas City! We know many of you may be scrambling to gather the last minute presents for friends, family, and neighbors, so our Mom Squad Ambassador, Becky, came up with a quick (and easy) list of gifts you can purchase from the comfort of your own home. No need to battle the crowds and traffic, just a couple of clicks and you’re taken care of. Take a look…

5 Last-Minute Gifts You Can Purchase in Your PJs

5 Last-Minute Gifts You Can Purchase in Your PJs

 

For your favorite family

 

5 Last-Minute Gifts You Can Purchase in Your PJs

 

 

Friends of the KC Zoo Family Membership — By far the best deal for families in the city. For just $109 ($169 if you live outside of Jackson County), your family can get 15 months of zoo access PLUS unlimited rides of the train, tram, carousel, boat and sky rides.

 

For your favorite kids

 

5 Last-Minute Gifts You Can Purchase in Your PJs

 

Surprise Ride Subscription — This box has a different theme each month and comes packed with fun and educational activities to keep your kids busy. My three kids shared a box and we were still able to milk the content over two evenings. $28/month.

 

For your favorite gal

5 Last-Minute Gifts You Can Purchase in Your PJs

Fair Trade Friday — This is my favorite go-to gift when I want to give something unique. The Fair Trade Friday box includes 3-4 items that are fairly traded and provide employment and empowerment to impoverished women all over the world. Items include things like jewelry, soaps and coffee. Prices vary.

For your favorite guy

 

5 Last-Minute Gifts You Can Purchase in Your PJs

 

SprezzaBox Subscription — Don’t worry about fit, this box is full of one-size-fits all stylish fun for dudes like sunglasses, socks, grooming products and ties. It’s just $28/month and is guaranteed to have over $100 in products.

 

For a stranger

 

5 Last-Minute Gifts You Can Purchase in Your PJs

 

Kindness Cards — KindCraft KC started this trend and I love it. Make (or buy) Kindness Cards and pair each one with $5 to give to friends and family so they can enjoy bringing joy to a stranger’s day: Pay for a drive-thru order, tape some money to a vending machine, etc. It’s a gift you’ll both feel great about.

 

 

Becky Ervin is a creative director, mother of three and blogs at PartyBoxKC.com/blog.

 

From iFamily to Yours,

iFamMomSqdBeckyV2

 

 

 

 

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How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party

Now that we’re into the final week before Christmas shows it’s face, how about getting your friends and family together for a little holiday gingerbread house party? Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Becky, has some great tips for throwing an easy and fun gingerbread house party this weekend. Take a look!

How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party

 

How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party 

 

Last weekend I hosted a Gingerbread House party.

 

Picture it: 20+ kids. 20+ gingerbread houses arriving in parts and pieces. An unsupervised room full of every kind of candy you can imagine. Bags and jars of icing everywhere you look. A 3-year-old dumping an entire jar of white glittery sugar on his house. (Where was that kid’s mother?! Oh yeah, that was MY kid.)

 

This was by far the BEST WORST idea I’ve had yet. It was crazy, the kids will be on a sugar high for the rest of the week, our Elf on the Shelf was traumatized, but it was FUN. Not only that, but it was probably the easiest party I’ve ever thrown in my life. I was literally walking around my house a good 15 minutes before the party started to see if there was anything else I needed to do. THAT NEVER HAPPENS.

 

Want to know my secrets on how to throw a stress-free gingerbread house party?

 

How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party

Get off Pinterest and follow these rules:

 

Don’t make the Gingerbread houses yourself. For a hot minute this was going to be my plan before I did the math on how painful that would be.

Do have every child bring their own gingerbread house kit with them to the party.

 

How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party

 

Don’t shop for all the candy yourself.

Do make it a candy potluck. I had every parent bring one bag of candy per kid.

 

How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party

 

Don’t leave the candy selection up to chance. Assortment is key!

Do create a digital sign-up. A sample from our list: M&Ms, mini M&Ms, peppermints, gum drops, Skittles, Starbursts, Hershey Kisses, mini marshmallows, Twizzlers, Lifesavers, bubble gum, Hot Tamales, Mike & Ike’s, pretzels, red hots and jelly beans

 

How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party

 

Don’t just invite the kids. (Good GOD, no.)

Do invite the entire family. The more adults on deck to help construct and assist with decorating, the smoother things will go. It also provides the parents a chance to tag team between their kids’ gingerbread houses and a beer.

 

Do set up lots of tables (including shorter ones to accommodate the little ones) for ample work spaces.

Don’t set up chairs. They take up a lot of space and you can fit more kids around a table without them.

 

How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party

 

Don’t try to construct your own children’s gingerbread houses once the party starts because you’ll be busy welcoming guests.

Do construct your kids’ houses ahead of time, buy the pre-assembled one from Costco, or cheat like I did with these plastic reusable houses.

 

Don’t offer drinks in cups. Can you image the number of spills and flooded houses?

Do provide plenty of juice boxes with straws.

 

Don’t serve food that requires you to be prepping in the kitchen or paying attention to oven timers during the party.

Do serve chili (that’s been simmering since early afternoon), hot dogs (that cook themselves—thank you hot dog roller!) and order some pizza for the kids.

 

How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party

 

Don’t go crazy with the pizza. I’m a big fan of over ordering, but trust me.

Do consider that all the kids will be stuffed with candy by the time they go for a slice.

 

Don’t worry about the sprinkles, the icing, the hundreds of pieces of candy on your floor.

Do remember it’s just sugar and it all cleans up quite easily. (Exception: NEVER host this party if you only have carpeted rooms.)

 

 

I just knew when I was sending out invitations for this party it was either going to be a one-time event or a tradition my family would share with our friends for years to come. Oh yes, this party is definitely a keeper.

 

Pro Tips

 

  • Sprees and Starbursts won “Designers’ Choice” at our party.
  • This party is the perfect use for your kids’ leftover Halloween candy.
  • Sugar ice cream cones make great trees for the gingerbread houses.
  • Putting tablecloths on all the tables makes clean up so much easier.
  • There’s no need to unwrap any of the individually wrapped candy. Trust me, no kid needs help in this area.
  • Plan the party close to your trash day. You’ll have a ton of boxes to recycle.
  • Smaller tubs of icing with plastic knives work way better than the more expensive squeezable tubes of icing.
  • Beware of the houses sold at Trader Joe’s which have powered sugar you have to mix to make the icing. (What is this, the year 1800? Ain’t nobody got time for that.)
  • Invite your dear mom so she can help your kids during the party while you concentrate on hosting (or drinking wine, whatever).

 

 

Becky Ervin is a creative director, mother of three and she blogs at PartyBoxKC.com/blog.

 

From iFamily to Yours,

iFamMomSqdBeckyV2

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Get Creative With the Santa Present: Host a “Santa Wrapping” Party!

Well folks, Christmas is right around the corner, and we’re sure you’re busy getting your presents bought and wrapped for the big day. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Darcy, had the BRILLIANT idea of hosting a Santa Wrap party to help make those Santa gifts not so obvious. Check it out!

Get Creative With the Santa Present: Host a "Santa Wrapping" Party!

Get Creative With the Santa Present:

Host a “Santa Wrapping” Party!

 

For a couple years now I’ve been pitching this idea of a ‘Santa wrapping’ party to my friends, but hadn’t had any takers. I maintain this is a good idea and lucky for me- this year a few others on the Mom Squad agreed with me! Let me explain this to all of you who are rubbing your head thinking I’m out of my mind. A couple years past my daughter found me using some gift wrap I had left over from the year prior. “That’s Santa’s wrap!” she yelled and then gave me a very suspicious look. “Ah, so it is!” I stammered, “he must have sent an elf to Target.” I giggled nervously. (I am seriously the worst at this Santa business). Graciously, she let me off the hook and walked away, but I still wonder if I am fooling her. A year after that, I realized that buying paper from Costco was a mistake as I will be using this damn wrap on my grandchildren’s gifts one year. It may be some magical paper. It never runs out! Do I have Santa’s gift wrap???

So back to the point, I reached out to some fellow mom friends and said, “Hey, what about a wrapping paper swap party thing for Santa?” They looked at me like I was nuts. I get that look a lot. And here’s my pitch: Every mom (or dad) brings the gifts they have that are from Santa, some scissors and tape and a roll of gift wrap or two. (Don’t bring a bike- just stick a bow on that or you can buy a roll to use up yourself.) Break out some wine, cocoa, snacks, whatever and trade your paper with someone else. That way, everyone has some untraceable paper to use. I’d also appreciate it if someone else could write out the names on the gifts because I’m pretty sure the miniature detective will be able to recognize my left hand penmanship soon. It’s up to you if you want to bring tags and bows or get them yourself (maybe make sure you find people that gift wrap at your OCD artistic level).

As I said, I have finally convinced some lovely ladies to help me out with this and we will be doing our own little Santa Wrap party here soon. I promise to give an update on how this all works out! Maybe during the party we can figure up an official name for this. I’m sure it’s going to be huge and you heard it here first! What do you readers think? What are your stealth tips for this sneaky time of year?

 

From iFamily to Yours,

iFamMomSqdDarcyv2

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