Monday, November 26, 2012

Quick List of 10 Stocking Stuffers for Kids

Boy, this time of year crept up fast! Here we are already talking about "everything" Christmas. I have compiled a short list of 10 stocking stuffer ideas for kids.

1) Favorite candies- I am sure everyone is full of candy coming off Halloween and Thanksgiving as well as Christmas parties, but who doesn't appreciate a few of their favorites.

2) Personalized paper pads and crayons/markers- There are several places that print personalized paper pads very cheaply.

3) One-Time Use Digital Camera- Kids love taking pictures so why not give them a cheap camera to take some Christmas morning shots. And, you won't have to worry if it gets dropped.

4) Deck of Kids' Games Cards- Add a game of Go Fish, Uno, or Old Maid

5) Flavored Chapsticks- There are so many novelty chapsticks these days that taste like popular food brands.

6) Dollar Store Gift Card- My kids love going to the dollar store and having a small gift card makes them so happy, they feel like they can get so much.

7) Pieces of a Nativity Scene- A nice tradition is giving a piece of the nativity scene each year as a stocking stuffer until it is completed and the child has a whole nativity set of their own.

8)Trading Cards- They make trading cards for so many popular kid brands and sports teams. Pick up a pack or two and add them to the stockings.

9) Silly Bandz

10) Mini Snow Globe- Start a cute tradition as well as a collection by adding a miniature snow globe to the child's stocking each year.

I hope a few of these ideas will help you on your way to gathering stocking gifts!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

5 Things To Make Eating Out with Kids More Economical

Most people enjoy eating out, but with the economy sluggish, it can be an expense that many families just can not afford on a regular basis. While it would be nice to have a home cooked meal every day, the fact is that in today's fast-paced society, there are many days where dinner comes at a restaurant table. So, how can you still work in the growing expense of eating out with kids? We do not eat out as much as we have in the past, but I have tried to stick to some "restaurant rules" to keep costs down while still enjoying a meal out. Of course, there are special occasions, but for the routine restaurant  trip, I really attempt to stick to a budget.
Here are a few of the "rules":

1) Check out the kids' eat free deals and/or coupons/Groupons/Entertainment books first before deciding where to go. Unless it is someone's birthday meal and they have carte blanche in the decision about where they want to eat, try to go for one of the places where you know there is going to be a savings. Case in point, we recently had dinner at Steak-N-Shake for $12 for a family of four. The kids got a free meal since it was kids' eat free on the weekends and we had a coupon for the hamburger and fries meal that I usually get. Plus, we had a coupon for buy one, get one free milkshakes so my husband and I were both able to get full-size milkshakes. That is a huge savings!

2) Drink water. It's great for you and your digestion and it's free. Think about how much that glass of soda is going to cost you, especially when half of it is filled with ice. And, I love soda pop, but when eating out it is very rare that I would actually purchase one. Anymore, a beverage in most restaurants will cost at least $2-$3, multiply that times every person in your family, every time you eat out and it can seriously add up.

3) Stay clear of desserts and appetizers in addition to a full meal. If you are ordering a meal, cutting out a $5-$8 add-on like an appetizer and/or  dessert will save a lot of money. I know so many people that order the appetizer in addition to their meal and then barely eat a bite of the actual entree since they filled up on the first course. Obviously, there are exceptions, but we do not routinely go out as a family and order a bunch of additional things besides our main meal.

4) In the same breath, embrace the appetizer. Many times, appetizers are fairly large and can actually be the preferred choice to the entrees. In that case, why not order an appetizer as your meal. It will no doubt be cheaper. My daughter and I will sometimes split a larger appetizer and we still can not eat it all, but it saved us from purchasing two separate meals.

5) This is completely dependent on the place you are eating and the ages of your kids, but when at all feasible, have them split a meal. With my children's ages, there are still restaurants where the kids' portions are fairly large and after I realized that neither of them were able to eat more than half of their own meals, I started having them share. There were certain places where the kids' meal consisted of 3-4 large chicken tenders and a whole plate of fries and cup of fruit and my toddler/preschooler was in no way able to eat the whole meal.

Hopefully, by tweaking a few eating out routines and rituals, money can be saved while still being able to enjoy a dinner out as a family.

Friday, November 16, 2012

FREE Kids' Workshops

Home Depot and Lowes offer FREE kids' workshops to foster do-it-yourself skills, promote creativity and teach tool safety. The workshops are aimed at the 5-12 yr. old age group and the kids not only get to keep the craft they made, but will get an apron and certificate of completion. My kids really enjoy these workshops and have made some handy gadgets along the way.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Parenting Books: 5 Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages of Children by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell is a very helpful book for parents wishing to pinpoint the expression of love that is the most easily communicated for their child. Not only is the book useful in assessing the individual love language (Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch or Words of Affirmation), but also offers practical suggestions on how to interpret and apply the information. The book is a quick and easy read which  I definitely recommend . Check out the website at:


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Make A Thankful Plate

I saw this idea last year on Pinterest in a baby shower theme and thought it could be worked into a fantastic way to celebrate Thanksgiving. 
Buy some $1 ceramic plates at a dollar store. They can really be any color as long as the color you chose for the marker will coordinate. At a craft store, find a Porcelaine 150 pen or other marker that is for writing on ceramics. Have the kids name off things they are thankful for, adding them to the plate as you go along. Once you are done, bake the plate according to the marker directions for the ink to completely set and dry.
Voila, you will have a wonderful reminder and keepsake of a year’s worth of blessings! Once a few years have gone by, there should be a nice little family stockpile of thankful plates to use for Thanksgiving dinner.