Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Holiday Gift Giving Guide 2014: Scholastic Books

I have always been a reader and I have been working as a writer for over a decade now in various different roles. It was only fitting that I raise a reader and my six year old son does love to read. He is also an awesome reader and he gobbles up books left and right. We seem to always be giving in to a request to go to the book store or to stop by the library in order to get some new reading material. Of course I can't turn the boy down because unlike toys, books never get old. That is why in addition to all of the toys we will be giving out son for Christmas, we will also be giving him a variety of books that he has asked for. I recently spoke to Scholastic regarding some of their latest releases and books that they are promoting this holiday season and we are lucky enough to be reading some of their favorite top pics this year which include the following titles:

 Star Wars Jedi Academy
My son is just starting to get into chapter books and longer novels. He likes them to have some pictures though in order to keep his interest and this book is a great one because it is long, it has plenty of text but it also has pictures, doodles and more. It's along the lines of the Bad Kitty series and Captain Underpants series which we love. Star Wars Jedi Academy is by Jeffrey Brown and it is available through Scholastic.

Washi Tape Stickers
Craft books are a lot of fun too because they promote reading but also provide a fun activity to complete. With the long winter months ahead a book like Make Your Own Washi Tape Stickers is a great gift idea. You get over 100 feet of tape with this books along with tools and traceable art so you can make your own creations. This book retails at $16.99 and is available through Scholastic and other book stores.

My Grandfather's Coat
Written by Jim Aylesworth and illustrated by Barbara McClintock, My Grandfather's Coat is a wonderful story about a boy's grandfather who came to the country with a coat that became worn and full of memories. The book even includes a recipe to make coat cookies to keep with the theme of this book. This is a great activity and book for a cold winter's day.

The Angel Tree
The Angel Tree is authored by Daphne Benedis-Grab and it is a lovely holiday story that can be shared by the whole family around the Christmas tree each evening. Instead of doing an advent calendar this year we are focusing on a holiday story each day and this longer length book is a great way to spend time together, reading a little bit each night throughout the month of December.

You can visit www.scholastic.com for more information on these books or any of the other books that are from Scholastic. We also love the Bad Kitty Series and Captain Underpants books are on my son's list this holiday season as well.

Holiday Gift Giving Guide 2014: Identity Direct

It can be very difficult to find unique gifts to give to the children in your life around the holidays even if it is your own child you are shopping for. My son of course has his list of items he wants for the holidays but I also like to come up with my own ideas that often are a bit more memorable and he can save for many years to come. This year some of my favorite items are coming from Identity Direct. This is the absolute best place to shop for personalized items. You can literally find everything and anything for your own child and for other children in your family.

Here is just a quick rundown of some of the awesome gift ideas I was fortunate enough to sample:

Santa And Reindeer Stocking
We each have our own stocking hanging up around the holidays and of course I had let my son pick his out from the store. His stocking was cute and all but it was missing that extra special touch. We received one of the Santa And Reindeer Stockings from Identity Direct and it is monogrammed with my son's name on it. It's really nice, high quality and the embroidery looks fantastic. I'm a big fan of this item and its a keepsake that will last forever.

Disney Cars Activity Book
We have been snowed in for over a week now and my son has been coloring and completing his activity books like crazy. Two impromptu weeks of snow days will do that to you! This book came just in time to fill in the extra time we have around here. This is a jam packed activity book that comes personalized on each page with your child's name and details. The name of your choice appears on each page and this is sure to be a unique gift for the kids in your life rather than just a boring old coloring book from the store!

My Special Christmas Adventure
Over the years I have gotten a lot of personalized story books for my son as a gift for a birthday or other holiday. We now have a personalized Christmas story from Identity Direct titled My Special Christmas Adventure. Each page tells a great Christmas story but also incorporates our son, our location and our pets. Its such a great tradition starter and gift!

Frozen Items
It seems every store I went to this year had Frozen items everywhere. I don't have a girl and I don't have any little girls to shop for so I was able to skim right over these displays but if you are someone who is shopping for that Frozen age group this might be difficult. There are a lot of items to choose from but it seems every Frozen fanatic has all of the Frozen items already. Identity Direct has a number of items that make great Frozen-themed gifts such as personalized placemats and a personalized Frozen storybook.

Letter From Santa
My son will soon be 'receiving' a personalized letter from Santa thanks to Identity Direct. This letter talks to your child about how they have been behaving, gives some personal references that make the letter very authentic and everything looks legit. This is a nice little item to send over to the child in your life that gets them in the festive mood and keeps them behaving all holiday season!

The items offered by Identity Direct are endless. You can stop by their website to shop around. Just a warning, you are definitely going to sign off the computer having purchased a number of items- you will never be able to pass these items by!

You can shop with free shipping by clicking the link below or by using the promo code 43004.


Holiday Gift Giving Guide 2014: Sinful Colors

There is no better accessory than a fantastic manicure and pedicure. With the holidays quickly approaching, now is a good time to hit the spa to get your nails done to coordinate with all of your holiday outfits. If you can't make it to a professional the next best thing to do is paint your own fingers and toes with a great holiday hue. Sinful Colors came out with some really festive colors that work for the holidays but they also work year round.

I got four different shades from Sinful Colors to try out and I love them. For Thanksgiving I will be sporting Gold Medal as a base coat with Twilight Twinkles as a top coat. For Christmas I cannot wait to try Pine Away as a base coat and Galax-Sea as the top sparkle coat.

I don't like to get too holiday themed with my nails so you won't find me sporting intricate Santa Clause nails but I like that these shades from Sinful Colors are fancy enough to be holiday related but I can still use the colors alone or together throughout the year.

Each polish is available for about $1.99 and they are exclusively being offered at Walgreens locations. You can visit www.sinfulcolors.com for more information.

Friday, November 14, 2014

2014 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: My School Years Book

If there is one thing I like to do it is stay organized. I feel like the only way to survive all of my duties each day is to keep everything in order and make sure everything has its place. That way, when I have something in my hand that item has somewhere to go right away and it is not going to just sit on a table somewhere causing a mess. I like to hang on to all of my son's artwork, his awards, certificates and some of his tests he's scored well on. Previously all of these items were thrown into a box in the front hall closet where they were saved. I received this My School Years Book and I was thrilled that there was a better way to organize some of these items and keep them safe.

The My School Years Book is quite large and it is divided into grade levels starting with Pre-K and ending with 12th grade. Each page has a pocket folder to save items and there are spots for each grade level that let you fill out the school name that year, your child's teacher, his or her friends, activities, favorite things, etc. It's a nice remembrance of each school year.

The book is really simple to use. It took me about ten minutes to take what I had saved up and organize it into the book. I filled out the items on each page and I look forward to updating the book each year as our child grows.

You can find the My School Years Book at Identity Direct. This is a great Christmas gift idea for any parents and it is really affordable; under $30.

2014 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Playmates Toys: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

My son's Christmas requests this year focused largely on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Legos from the TMNT series, action figures, action figure sets, TMNT books and more. Luckily TMNT items are extremely popular right now and it is easy to find some really great items in stores and also online. Playmates Toys makes some great TMNT items that are going to be great for this upcoming holiday season but they also recently came out with some Half Shell Heroes toys that appeal to the younger crowd that might not yet be ready for the big boy action figures. My little man is six so we go with the items geared toward the older crowd. 

We have the Shellraiser and also the RC Patrol Buggy for Leonardo. My son really likes the Patrol Buggy because it is a remote control but he can sit his action figures in the seat and drive them around. What could be cooler than that? Mainly, my son will just sit and play with his action figures on their own so he has collected a bunch of them and will be getting some brand new ones for Christmas this year. All of the characters from the shows and the movies come from the Playmates Toys line and the best part is they are really affordable; typically under $10 each.

My son is also going to be getting the TMNT Blimp. This is an inflatable 'vehicle' that you can actually hang from the ceiling. The turtle action figures can hang from the bottom of the blimp and be released down for play. We are also giving our son one of the zip line playsets which attaches to the wall and the turtles can move down the line from one location to the next. 

More information can be found at Playmatestoys.com. The toys that are part of the Playmates line can be found online and also in a variety of retail stores. All of these items and the other toys part of the holiday lineup this year are really affordable and they will get a ton of use. The best part is, the majority of them do not use batteries which is my favorite kind of toy!