Month: December 2013

The Doctor Who TARDIS play tent: because every kid needs a time machine in the living room.

If you’re still looking for that one gift under the tree that will make kids scream “OH EM GEE!” (or is that just our kids these days?) this Doctor Who TARDIS Play Tent might do the trick. While it’s not a classic kids’ tent shaped like a teepee, we’re pretty sure it will still inspire tons of imaginative play. Even cooler? Open it up to reveal the 11th Doctor’s control room. Your kids may never leave. Find the Doctor Who TARDIS Play Tent online at Think...

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A DIY Christmas tree dollhouse, also known as “how to put those Amazon boxes to good use”

If your house is anything like mine, you’ve got two energetic kids trapped inside by nasty weather and a huge stack of shipping boxes waiting for the recycling truck. Put them all to good use with this DIY project that creates an adorable Christmas tree dollhouse out of supplies you already have on hand. You can even build in a jail, if your Elf on the Shelf is particularly naughty. Our pals at Mr. Printables have found a simple way to turn those plain cardboard boxes into something extraordinary — and useful. All you need are their free printable...

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Best gifts for 8-year-old boys: ideas that will get a big “wow.” Reader Q & A

What are the best gifts for an 8-year-old boy? I’m looking for a big gift, in the $50-$100 range. —CMP reader, via Twitter   Oh, you mean the kind of gift that makes a child pause while unwrapping, shout out with glee, and rush over to give you a big hug? Well, small gifts can do that too, but on the splurgier side, here are some of our favorites according to our own sons — and by the way, according to our daughters, all these cool kids’ gifts would be great for girls, too. Just note we stayed away...

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5 Tech Picks You Won’t Want to Miss

Here are 5  five of our favorite posts on Cool Mom Tech this week, just in case you missed them.   1. If you have not yet seen this hilarious parody video, it’s so worth the couple of minutes. Promise. 2. Check out our review of the top 3 e-book subscription services so you can start the new year reading more. 3. The coolest Minecraft gifts for kids, besides more time to play Minecraft. 4. Great jewelry for Instagram lovers. Such a super-fun, affordable holiday gift. 5. Countdown to Santa’s arrival with this awesome, free Santa Tracker site. Your kids...

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4 of the best of the latest kids’ music album releases: Recess Monkey, Charlie Hope, Mister G, and Lucky Diaz

If Santa is bringing a new MP3 player or you’d love to wrap up a few new cool kids’ music CDs to give your little listeners, here are four cool new releases, by some of our very-favorite kindie artists: Recess Monkey, Charlie Hope, Mister G, and Latin Grammy-award winner Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band.   If you’re tired of winter already, Recess Monkey’s latest Desert Island Disc will feel like a breath of fresh, warm, summer air. Kicking off with the ukulele notes in Coconut Radio, Desert Island Disc gently blows through 14 songs that are, as...

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Create Your Own Monster for Christmas

When my kids saw the Create Your Own Monster Kit, they couldn’t wait to open the lid to unleash more than a dozen creatures into our living room. Fortunately, these colorful, snarling, lurching creatures don’t leave a mess and are actually pretty good houseguests. These aren’t your average monsters with blue fur and big teeth. All 12 of them are very snazzily designed, each by a different illustrator, like the Berlin art collective Klub7 and Swedish artist Camilla Engman, whose gift tags we’ve featured on CMP. And then three of them come “naked” as a blank canvas for your...

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10 of the best Christmas cookies from around the world

Modern city gal though I think myself, I have a total weakness for traditional Christmas cookie swaps. There’s something so cool about seeing the Christmas cookies from around the world that come from sometimes generations-old recipes from a melting pot of friends. Should you need a new idea beyond gingerbread men and sugar cookies this year–not that we can ever get enough of those–take some inspiration from these 10 amazing Christmas cookies from a variety of global traditions. Related: 5 deliciously easy cookie swap recipes, no hard work required.   DUTCH SPECULAAS SPICE COOKIES The Dutch spice trade is...

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Crafty gift kits for the creative people on your holiday list

Have a budding Martha Stewart on your holiday shopping list? Go ahead and check them off — these sweet little craft kits from Purl Soho (the folks behind The Purl Bee) are just perfect. Knitting, embroidery, and other craft projects are all packed in perfect kits ready for holiday gifting. You’ll find  coasters and tea towels, even iPhone covers you can make yourself. I happen to dig the coin purses, embroidery kits and DIY barrette kits, which make excellent stocking stuffers. And oh my goodness, the tiny felt animals (look at the penguin!) are also pretty freaking adorable too. The felted dove craft kit is...

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It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas: natural, affordable holiday edition soaps that make cleaning less of a chore

One of the little things I do over the holidays is swap out the grapefruit dish soap or lavender hand pump for something a little more festive. It’s a simple way to make everything feel more holiday-ish the second we walk in the door. It used to be that only the fancy, high-end boutique brands carried incredible fragrances, but now I love that so many favorite natural brands are making them readily available. Here, just a few favorites you can find online or as close as your local market.   Method Holiday Collection Method has always done a great...

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Move over, Gingerbread Man: 7 delectable twists on that holiday fave

If you’re anything like me, you’ve waited all year for a taste — or two or three — of gingerbread. Warm and spicy, the combination of molasses and holiday spice makes any sweet even sweeter. These seven gingerbread recipes, from cookies to waffles to whoopie pies, are proof. What better way to start a gingerbread round than with a classic gingerbread cake. But you know me: We can’t go classic without a little twist. This Gingerbread Cake with Butter Rum Toffee Sauce (above) from Boulder Locavore fits the bill perfectly. A traditional cake served with an untraditional, but oh-so-right sauce....

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Ever wished you could bathe in a peppermint mocha?

I love my peppermint mocha latte as much as the next girl, so it’s a shame they’re gone so fast that all I’m left with is a whipped cream mustache and fond memories. But when you combine the delicious scent of peppermint and cocoa with luscious body products backed by organic and fair trade production, you’ve got a heavenly match that lasts longer than five mouth-burning minutes of bliss. Moksa Organics is a company based on love for nature, activism, and peace, so you know this Mistletoe Holiday Bath Set is as kind to the world as it is...

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The best books for kids 2013: A round-up of the best 2013 round-ups of the best books for kids.

We wanted to find the best books for kids in 2013, but over 1350 books are published every week! It’s easy to miss a story your kids would love. So we’ve rounded up 15 of the best round-ups on the internet from all kinds of writers, editors and bloggers, of this year’s best books especially for children. May you find the perfect kids’ books to gift wrap under the tree.   1. 13 Best Children’s, Illustrated, and Picture Books  via Brain Pickings The Mighty LaLouche by Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackall You know this list from the wonderful site Brain Pickings...

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Sweet and simple: Apropos Roasters gifts and stocking stuffers

If you’re like me, there’s a bunch of people to whom you’d like to give a little something for the holidays, but they aren’t quite up to the level of say, a cashmere sweater. I usually whip up some handmade holiday food gifts in the kitchen, but to save time this year I might let Apropos Roasters do some of the work for me instead. I love their selection of individually packaged coffee, tea, and hot chocolate gifts, wrapped in plain brown paper and adorned with cheery stamped images and messages. So great for holiday gift giving to co-workers, carpool,...

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Web coolness: Outrageous photos with Santa, a must-follow Pinterest board, and holiday gift ideas galore

Every week we scour the web for our favorite stories. Here are the ones we’ve liked reading, and we hope you do too.   Here’s a new twist on an old tradition: Visit PADI to find out where to take underwater photos with Santa. At least toddlers can’t wet his pants leg? Must-read: The What is Family? blog series on Brain, Child. Must-watch: Brene Brown on The Power of Empathy. We love her. Must-watch for a big laugh: Lord of the Crumbs. Must-listen: A nice, chill Christmas playlist. Have you visited our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide yet? More than...

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Because Grandma’s walls could use a little gifting: beautiful custom photo canvases

It’s no secret that the Cool Mom Picks team loves to find unique photo gifts for family, friends and teachers. While photo books are a great option for any price level, it’s actually affordable and easier than you think to create custom photo canvases too. Because, hey, Grandma’s walls could use a little love too. So we’re excited about the photo options at Picaboo for home decor. You can easily upload your pictures to Picaboo’s site straight from your computer, Facebook, or Flickr. Then Picaboo offers two editing modes — Easy or Creative. As you’d imagine, the Creative mode offers...

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Jewelry that feels as good to give as to get from the Kwagala Project

I’ve always said that one of my favorite categories in our Holiday Gift Guide are gifts that give back. We managed to pare it down to 14 this year, but honestly we could have gone on forever. And while you have probably heard of some of our favorite resources–organizations like PROJECT (RED) and TOMS marketplace–there’s one that’s new to us that I wanted to call out specifically: Kwagala Project, whose pink coil bracelet is featured in our guide this year. Especially since they have an amazing holiday deal right now. I met the founder, Kristen Hendricks, this year and was instantly...

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Hallmark rewards you for sending the cards you’d send anyway. Hey, thanks!

– Don’t miss a $500 giveaway we put together just for Cool Mom Picks readers! – As big proponents of sending cards (and saving the ones we receive ourselves, for all of eternity), we’re pretty excited to see just how many beautifully designed, modern cards are being offered by our partner Hallmark these days. Because let’s be honest, we’re often the ones in the local drugstore days before Christmas, stocking up for all those last minute invitations and visitors. And we are picky. As you well know.  No, we didn’t design this but we want to hire whomever did.  ...

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A cool modern take on the holiday wreath that’ll never wilt or shed

I had a lovely Christmas wreath once. But then the cat got to it. You can only clean up so much pine barf before your door goes naked. And that’s why I love this fabulous and unexpected take on the traditional door-hanging: it’s natural, but not too natural. Our pals at Cardboard Safari have taken their laser-cut recycled cardboard creations to the land of the holidays and emerged with a variety of holiday wreaths and tabletop Christmas trees. Each one comes in white or natural brown cardboard and can be easily assembled at home. The white ones can be...

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Jammies Pret-a-Porter: An extra-sweet stocking stuffer for an extra-sweet baby

I’m a sucker for cute packaging. Pair that with an even cuter baby outfit and you’ve got one adorable gift idea for any baby in your life who’s too young for chocolate Santas just yet. Jammies Prêt-à-Porter is an all-in-one gift for a stylish baby, coming in its own recycled, BPA-free plastic jam jar that can later be re-used for coins, crayons, and I suppose jam. But packaging aside, the real sweetness is in the contents inside the jar.   Each adorable outfit is beautifully made in the U.S., and super soft and cozy for newborn or baby up to...

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Deck the house with the coolest Christmas printables, lots of them free

Liven up your Christmas decor this year by printing out some great printable holiday decorations without leaving the comforts of home. The best part: you won’t need a degree in Paper Arts or a stash of obscure crafting supplies to get these pieces ready to display. The printable gingerbread house (above) may not include real candy, but it sure is sweet with lots of  individual characters to position. Or for your kids to reposition every chance they get. ($3 for download; with lots of other sets in Fantastic Toys’ Etsy shop) Tired of green-and-red everything? Check out these Scandinavian-inspired, geometric printable Christmas...

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