20 Amazon Holiday Gifts for Girls 2015

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All links in this post are affiliate links. 

Holiday Gift Ideas for Girls

Having two girls ages six and nine,  I wanted to put together an Amazon holiday gift ideas for girls post to give you ideas for any girls ages roughly 6 to 10+ on your list this year.

 

And, I chose all things from Amazon for easy holiday shopping this Cyber Monday.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Girls 

 

1. Diary with a lock  – Super secretive and super secure. Hee hee. But the girls think all their innermost thoughts are completely private given the lock and key function.  Very intriguing.

 

2. Full series book box sets (For younger girls Kinder – 2nd we love Junie B Jones, 2nd – 3rd graders Magic Treehouse series, 3rd – 4th grade American Girl series ) – For kids it is super fun to have the ENTIRE set and I think encourages reading in order to make their way through the box.

 

3. Create your own messenger bag – These will entertain my girls for hours. Fun art project + keepsake bag.

 

4. New set of quality colored pencils – Coloring is all the rage these days, not just for kids, but adults too.  A good quality set of colored pencils is sure to get a lot of milage.

 

5. Pair them with an intermediate coloring book like this one and it’s a great Christmas break activity (for the girls and you too!)

 

6. Lanyard & Lacing How To Book – Making lanyards was the Rainbow Loom of 2015.

 

7. Kinetic sand – This almost gave my clean freak husband an anxiety attack but the kids absolutely love it, so it’s worth it.  Setting it up outside is ideal.

 

8. Shopkins – These are really the silliest little things, but for any girl who loves to “collect” things, she will love the Shopkins.

 

9. Maga-tiles – My girls love making houses with Maga-tiles for the Shopkins.  Great to fine tune those engineering skills.

 

10. Little girls who love being active will love some new pieces of activewear. I love Limeapple for the prices.

 

11. Lately my girls have been really into looking up astrological signs and birthstones so birthstone earrings would make a fun gift.

 

12. Then put them in keepsake jewelry box for an extra special treat.

 

13. Tetherball system. This is on my 1st grader’s Santa list this year.  Tetherball is all the rage on the recess playground.  She wants to practice at home to become “Tetherball Champion” at school. For real.

 

14. And for a soccer-loving little girl, this soccer net  is a great backyard addition.

 

15. Melissa & Doug Peel & Press kits. Back to the craft world, these full peel & press kits are like painting by number, only with stickers.  They make a fun piece for their room when complete too.

 

16. My oldest saw me writing this post and yelled I WANT THAT!! When she saw this sleepover duffel (lots of cute prints). Great for quick overnights or weekend trips.  Consider taking it to your local embroidery shop to personalize, which would be a really fun gift.

 

17. Yahtzee. Best. Game. Ever. Not only is it fun but it is FANTASTIC for math skills.  My 6-year-old just learned so great for any girls 6+. Not to mention my husband and I love playing too! Yahtzee!

 

18. Charades for Kids. Another fun board game for family game nights.

 

19. Molding Clay Model Magic.  Think “play doh” for the older girls. They can make all kinds of cute creations and lots of fun clay accessories can go with if they want to make and fire real keepsake figurines.

 

20. Amazon bookmark gift card  – My girls LOVE getting Amazon gift cards. They are so fun for older kids because you don’t have to drag them to a store in person and you can shop by price range so they can truly pick from so many things.  I love that Amazon does cute bookmarks to make it more than just a gift card.

 

Happy Shopping Mamas!

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9 Must See Holiday Card Sites

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 All links in this post are affiliate links

If you landed on this page today, you are about to read about one of my absolute favorite topics –  cute holiday card sites!   Every year, I pour over my favorite holiday card sites to find the latest and greatest designs to share with you.

cute holiday card sites

9 (Super) Cute Holiday Card Sites 2015 

In no particular order!

1. Paper Culture

Click here to get to Paper Culture holiday photo cards

Modern, eco-friendly cards and for every order, Paper Culture plants a tree.  Tons of cool new designs this year.

paperculture

2. Minted

Click here to get to Minted holiday photo cards

I have been a long time fan and customer of Minted and once again, will be ordering my cards through Minted again this year. I especially love all their foil-printed designs like this one.

minted foil

I love Minted also offers matching FREE designed envelopes and FREE recipient address printing. Here is just one example of their cute envelope designs.  And again, it’s free!

Free Envelope Design and Recipient Printing on Minted!

3. Zazzle

Click here to get to Zazzle holiday cards

It was fun for me to find that Zazzle, an amazing website for customizable gifts (think bags, iPhone cases, pillows, I mean you NAME it!) also has a fab line of holiday photo cards.

zazzle

Even cuter? Order matching holiday postage to mail your cards!

Customizable Holiday Postage

 

4. Tiny Prints

Click here to get to Tiny Prints holiday cards

Of course, right? Yes, Tiny Prints is a long time favorite of many, for good reason. Personally I am a lover of their letterpress designs. Luxurious, timeless, beautiful.

tinyprints

 

5. Artifact Uprising 

Click here to get to Artifact Uprising holiday cards

The site offers the most beautiful photo gifts for pretty much everyone on your list.  Beautiful photo books, Instagram books, calendars, and more.

Their holiday photo cards follow the same look… simple and tasteful designs and lots of designs lend themselves to pulling images from your Instragram and make it into a photo card.

artifact

 

6. Pinhole Press

Click here to get to Pinhole Press holiday cards

Pinhole Press is a fun new find as of last year, offering beautifully simple photo cards, I loved their different collection of collage photo cards.Worth a peek for sure. This design was featured on Daily Candy.

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 10.53.35 AM

 

7. The Stationery Studio

Click here to get to The Stationery Studio holiday cards

I have ordered other cute stationery from The Stationery Studio but had never poked around the site to check out their holiday photo cards and found some really cute stuff! Especially lots of cute backer designs to complement the front design like this one.

stationerystudio

 

8. Storkie

Click here to get to Storkie holiday cards

This site has a lot of original designs, including this one with the option to add real GLITTER. Love. Talk about adding a little sparkle to your holiday!

storkie

 

9. PurpleTrail 

Click here to get to PurpleTrail holiday cards

This is a good find friends. I especially love their trifold designs.

purpletrail

Thanks for looking and happy holiday photo card designing! 

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Breathe in Gratitude

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Breathe in Gratitude

On this Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to post a reminder about the beauty of gratitude.

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, I started taking regular yoga classes to help with my stress and anxiety.  I found a little yoga studio in Orange County that offers Kundalini yoga classes, which include a lot of breath work.  Learning how to focus on my breathing has been transformative for me.

Every day I try to carve out just a few minutes to close my eyes and take a deep breath in to the count of 4 and exhale out to the count of 4. When I am breathing, I visualize breathing in all things good, and then exhale the opposite feeling that doesn’t serve a healthy purpose in my life.

I did the graphic above on some of the sentences I say to myself when breathing, but you can of course breathe in the feelings that you want to cultivate within yourself. When you breathe good things in, one at a time, let them resonate in every cell of your body. Bathe in the feeling of love or peace or faith or whatever it is that you want to feel. Or be.

Doing this exercise makes me feel so grateful.  For example, when I think about breathing in love, I think about God, my family, my friends, and I feel so grateful for this love.

When you take even a few minutes to sit in gratitude, you will feel a shift inside and in the outside world.  It’s pretty powerful.

Give it a try.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Love, light, faith, joy and peace to you all!

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Minted Gift Card Giveaway

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[Disclosure: All  links in post are affiliate links + I received complimentary cards. 100% my own opinions. Minted is my fave.]

Minted Holiday Cards 2015

Unsure of where to order your holiday photo cards this year? Look no further than www.minted.com where you will find a unique array of beautiful options from independent designers around the globe. This post today is all about how to create your perfect Minted holiday card along with a special Minted giveaway where three winners have the chance to win a $100 Minted credit to put towards your order. Oh joy!

mintedgiveaway2015

Recently I designed my family’s 2015 holiday card through Minted’s easy to use website and want to share with you all the different options Minted offers to personalize your holiday card.

But FIRST let’s get down to the giveaway business because I want three of you to have a chance to put a $100 credit towards your order! 

ARROW

All you have to do is CLICK HERE and enter your email address  to enter. Did you do it? Awesome.

Now let’s get started designing!

 

How to Create Your Perfect Minted Holiday Card

 

1. Choose Your Photo(s)

First you need to select the photo or photos you want to use this year. Whether it’s a beautiful professional family photo, or one of your favorites you shot this year on your phone, it doesn’t matter.  Friends and family are just happy to see your smiling faces come the holiday season.  Usually we make a point to have professional photos taken of our family, but with all going on with me personally, it didn’t happen this year. So I called upon my sister to come over one afternoon and take some photos of our fam in the backyard with our DSLR. Happy to say they actually came out pretty cute!

christmasphoto2015

2. Try on Designs with the Minted “Find It Fast” Feature 

This is by far my favorite feature of designing holiday cards with Minted.  Once you create an account and upload the photos you want to use you can filter your design search depending on different parameters like number of photos, type of card, photo orientation, price, etc. Then, click click “On” at the bottom for the the Find It Fast feature, and it will populate your photo(s) into a ton of different designs.

I can’t tell you how much this  cuts down on the time spent selecting a design! You can actually see your photo in all the different ones to quickly sift through and find the ones that work.

Here’s what the Find It Fast filters look like:

finditfast

I clicked one photo, landscape and flat because I knew that was the type of card I was looking for and then it gave me samples to see of my photo in different designs.

Here is a very small sample of the different designs our photo was populated in.

mintedchoices

3. Choose Your Favorite Design(s) + Start Personalizing!

When you see a design(s) you like, select “personalize” and you will be taken to a screen where you can further customize your card.  Many of the designs have different color options you can try on, different border choices, zoom options, font choices and options to edit text or wording.  I heart options.  Make sure to keep clicking “save” so you can save some favorites to share for opinions if you wish.  I personalized 17 choices and shared with my parents to pick their favorites. My mom’s advice? Start deleting some!  But it was hard to narrow down because I liked so many designs!

frontoptions

 

4. Now on to the Back!  

Once the front of the card is complete, you should be  ready to print, right? WRONG! Minted gives you a ton of personalization and customization options on the back too!

Did you have a hard time choosing a favorite photo for the front? Add some photos on the back! Want to share a few highlights from 2015? Add some text! So many fun choices to make your card special.

backeroptions

5. The Envelope Please…  

But folks, there’s more! Now comes the envelope!

Minted’s Address Assistant and FREE recipient envelope printing is another HUGE benefit to choosing Minted to print your holiday cards. It’s so easy, it’s free and it’s beautiful to have a special envelope printed to match your design.

A few years back I entered in all my recipient addresses so now when I order my cards, my friends and family’s names come printed FOR FREE in a darling matching design on the envelopes!  Do you know what this means?  I no longer have to get in a fight with my computer printer while attempting to print my own labels! Hallelujah!

After the envelope is gussied up, your design is complete!

mintedfreeenvelopeprinting

Our Family’s 2015 Holiday Card 

When scrolling through all the designs, the Wonders of His Love design and wording grabbed me because it has been a year full of Wonders of His Love amidst a year full of difficulty and challenges.  It just fit us this year and I love I could play with the color on Wonders to match our photo and I love the rounded corners with this design.

Happy Holidays from my family to yours this season and I hope you have the opportunity to design your own Minted holiday card and have as much fun as I did designing it!

familycard15

 

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Guest Blog: How to Organize a Caroling Party

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How To Organize A Neighborhood Kids Caroling Party

Between the parties, presents, and so many twinkle-lit opportunities to celebrate the season, Orange County kids aren’t lacking for holiday activities. But as much fun as it is to partake in the big events around town, sometimes we all crave something a little simpler and closer to home.

Last year I helped organize an evening of old fashioned, door-to-door caroling for the kids in our neighborhood. It was so much fun – and ridiculously low-stress – that we’re doing it again this year, with a few improvements.

Here are 7 tips for organizing a kids caroling party in your neighborhood:

1. Save the date

December fills up fast, so it helps to touch base with a few neighbors ahead of time to set a date. We chose a Sunday evening mid-month, avoiding the party-heavy Friday and Saturday nights and ensuring a good amount of people would be at home in the evening. After settling on the date we sent around a casual save-the-date email and asked people to pass it along.

2. Spread the word

About a week ahead of time, we distributed fliers in every mailbox on our street. The invitation asked people to RSVP so that we’d know how many kids to expect, and also to help provide cookies, hot chocolate, cups, plates and napkins for the post-caroling gathering (which was held in my garage!). This year we’re adding a note letting neighbors who don’t have children know that we’ll be knocking on their door that evening so they’re more likely to answer and be ready to be serenaded.

3. Prep the singers

We held zero rehearsals for our informal caroling party, but we did want the kids to come across as prepared (and also avoid any rogue “Batman smells” improvisations). We sent lyrics to four classic (and easy-to-remember) carols along with the invitation and had printed copies when we gathered in my driveway. Before we set out, we had the kids practice each song a couple of times and reminded them to use their best manners and nicest singing voices. It helped to have a good number of older kids who could read mixed in with the little ones.

4. Start out on the right foot

The biggest mistake we made last year was not knowing if neighbors were at home when we started knocking on doors! The kids were so excited and ready to sing and we had to try three or four homes before someone opened the door. This year we’ll stack the deck in our favor, finding out in advance which neighbors are planning to answer the door. That way if nobody’s home at the fourth or fifth house, we’ll at least have started out successfully.

caroling-kids

5. Be inclusive

We chose non-religious songs for our repertoire, and our flier encouraged families of all celebrating traditions to join in. While nobody spliced hairs over shouting “Merry Christmas” vs “Happy Holidays” as we paraded down the street, I do think it helped to set an inclusive tone and encourage participation from anyone who wanted to come along.

6. Keep it short

The entire event lasted from about 5:30pm until 7. This wasn’t a marathon trick-or-treating session or giant block party. We gathered in my driveway, practiced a couple of times, and then sang at maybe eight or ten houses total. By this point the little ones were getting tired of “Silent Night” and everybody was cold and hungry. Back in my garage we passed out hot chocolate and cookies (nobody set foot inside, making it the easiest holiday gathering to host ever!) and everybody was gone by 7:00pm.

7. Think festive, not perfect

This isn’t the event to take a perfect photo (too dark anyway) or show off a polished performance (not gonna happen). This is about kids and community, neighbors and music. Aside from letting the kids know we expected them to be respectful and cheerful, we let them interpret the experience in their own way. Some shook bells and tambourines; some dressed in their party dresses, others in PJs and reindeer antlers. Many messed up the words or got stage fright when the doors opened. But everybody returned with flushed cheeks and giant grins, and it didn’t have to be perfect to be a party.

The best part of the evening for us mamas was standing back at the curb and watching neighbors’ faces light up at the sight of 15 children singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It didn’t cost a thing, was just steps away from home, and about as full of holiday magic as any other thing we did that season.


Sarah-Powers

 

Sarah Powers is a writer, editor, and co-host of The Mom Hour podcast. She lives in Orange County with her husband and three young kids. Find more of Sarah’s writing by following her on Twitter and Instagram.

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