Tag: christmas

Great experience gifts for kids, because memories make for awesome presents.

When we’re asked for ideas for a great gift for the kid who has everything–or even those who don’t–the first thing that comes to mind for me are experience gifts . They don’t have to be expensive at all, or they can be super splurgey. An experience gift can be an activity you do with the kids, or something they do on their own. So broaden your mind if you’re still stumped for gifts–we’ve got some fun idea starters, along with some thoughts on how to package an experience gift so your kids have more to open under the...

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One toy in, one toy out: Used toy donations to help kids in need this holiday season

Especially with so many services that help facilitate toy donations, there is nothing more sad to me than seeing a perfectly good plastic toy sitting by the curb on garbage day. And yet, if you’re like me, you’re not quite sure who to call about the sand table gathering wet leaves in the back yard or the pile of electronic guitars and singing cars your kids accumulate over the years that you might be clearing out, especially with the new gifts coming in for Christmas. Now there’s a way to pass your formerly loved plastic toys on to children...

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Gorgeous modern holiday table settings for some festive inspiration. And uh, hold the Waterford.

When I’ve spent hours working on the perfect Christmas meal, a great holiday table setting is important to me. Serving it on plastic Santa Claus plates with paper napkins is not really my thing, since I want to show my friends and family how much love went into the meal. Still, I want it to be simple enough that kids feel welcome, and I’m not ignoring my family all day to make the table look like something out of a too-perfect magazine spread. I’ve been inspired by these beautiful holiday table settings and the creative details, and I hope...

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15 of the funniest christmas cards. Zero fruitcake jokes.

As much as I love loving, sweet, from-the-heart holiday greetings, there are those family members of mine I can always count on to send the funniest Christmas cards. Here, 15 cards that made me laugh out loud. No guarantees we have the same sense of humor — but I do promise you no fart jokes, fruitcake references, or allusions to Christmas balls of any sort.   Above: Christmastopher Walken Christmas Card ($4.25, Seas and Peas) (Just who you want coming down your chimney in the middle of the night.) I’ve Been Watching You Christmas Card ($5, Finch and Hare) Hot Cocoa Christmas...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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3 classic holiday treats for kids with food allergies

It’s no fun being that kid with food allergies who gets a chocolate Santa in your stocking, only to find your mom taking it away because there are no ingredients written on the foil. But it’s probably worse being that mom. So we’re happy to see more delicious Christmas treats each year, made with those very kids in mind.     Allergen-free Gingerbread House From the conscientious and talented folks at Sensitive Sweets Bakery, there’s no gluten (tapioca flour does the trick), dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts or tree nuts. The gingerbread house kit $29 and for an extra $10,...

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Meet (and possibly chew on) Reba the Wooden Reindeer

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. But do you know Reba? You should. She’s a great gift for the little person in your life who likes handmade wooden toys on wheels. Reba the Wooden Reindeer comes to you from Imagination Kids, a mom-and-pop Etsy shop that pays careful attention to child-safe materials, and sustainably harvested wood. She’s about 5.5 by 8 inches and painted in non-toxic paint, just in case she ends up on the business end of a gnawing baby. The only caveat? You need to order by December 9 (that’s tomorrow!) to ensure delivery by...

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Presenting the 2013 Cool Mom Picks Holiday Gift Guide, with more than 200 of the coolest ideas. Whoo!

We are beyond thrilled to launch our 8th annual Holiday Gift Guide, with more than 200 gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list. We did not mess around this year, mamas. And we’ve got an awesome new format to make it even easier to find the things you love. You’ll find all sorts of cool, unique holiday gifts for all the special people in your life, from all those cool kids in your life, to sentimental grandparents and the BFF who needs a little extra love this year. From your favorite fashionistas to guys with an uncomfortable obsession with...

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A personalized Night Before Christmas book makes for a very special storytime

Reading The Night Before Christmas is a holiday staple in our house, though this new personalized Night Before Christmas book for kids that stars one special child throughout the pages is sure to be the new Christmas favorite for years to come. Best of all? Though the little personalized touches are found on almost every page, it only takes a few minutes to get this special gift all wrapped up before Santa’s sleigh takes flight.     One of Chronicle Books’ personalized gifts which we’ve written about before, Night Before Christmas is a vividly illustrated and fun-to-read twist on Clement Moore’s classic. Personalize...

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Gifts that give back: These ornaments could change the world. For real.

Some of our favorite ornaments this year are more than just pretty baubles for your tree. They just might cure breast cancer, save an endangered species, or transform the life of women living in extreme poverty. Pretty impressive. The shiny green and red heart ornament (above) was designed by Mariska Hargitay and supports Child Mind, a non-profit focused on transforming mental heath care for kids everywhere. Love that. ($40) This adorable little bigfoot yeti comes from Ten Thousand Villages, an online retailer sourced completely by disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries worldwide. This particular guy was crafted in the foothills...

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14 creative gift wrap ideas to make your nice list feel super special this holiday season

The simplest handmade gift can feel like it’s worth a million bucks if you’ve taken the time to wrap it with love. So we’ve pulled together some stunningly creative gift wrap ideas from the best of the Web to help you make your loved ones feel extra special this Christmas.And they don’t have to be hard! My grandmother was my style icon. She believed that, although what’s on the inside matters more, what’s on the outside still matters quite a bit. In other words, she taught us not to be lazy with details. I think that’s especially true when it...

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Dasher, Rudolph and this guy: an adorable personalized reindeer ornament for the tree

You know Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, and the rest, but now there’s a reindeer lovelier than all of them. (I know I haven’t technically seen any of them, but surely it’s tough to look good after a day spent traveling around the world.) CMP fave Paloma’s Nest has a custom Christmas ornament so simple and beautiful, I think even Rudolph might soon have competition for most famous reindeer of all. Their Personalized Reindeer Ornament would be such a lovely addition to a family Christmas tree this year. Cut from a piece of wood and bedecked in a crisp, cotton ribbon that...

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Holiday ornaments without red or green or glitter. It’s possible!

If you’re like me and tend to lean towards more subtle holiday decorating (hold the beglittered talking Santa, please), you’ll love these gorgeous ornaments I found while scouring Etsy. I just can’t pick a favorite among the laser cut wood holiday ornaments at Havok Designs that are all designed and created right here in the USA. Whether you’re searching for a lovely custom hostess gift like the initial Christmas ornaments (pictured above) or want to stock up for your own tree decorating (love that poor gingerbread man!), you’ll find no shortage of fun options that even a red and green...

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9 of the most wonderful Advent calendars to get you ready for the Christmas countdown with a smile

Even procrastinators like me should start thinking about our annual Advent calendar since, with Thanksgiving falling on the 28th, we’ll still be eating turkey when December begins. Fortunately, there are loads of cool-looking Advent calendars you can order, print, or DIY now. December 1st will be here before you know it. –Christina 1. Colorful modern papers from libelu become a modern advent calendar made of cool-looking triangular packages in which to hide little treats for the kids. ($40.07, ships from Germany) 2. Such adorable laser-cut cherry wood ornaments decorate cotton drawstring bags on Peppersprout’s Woodland Ornament Advent Calendar. A definite splurge, but...

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Zazzle: Custom gifts for the holidays that go way beyond mugs and calendars. Way.

Featured Partner If you’re looking for a way to put a personal touch on your Christmas or Hanukkah celebrations this winter, we were surprised to learn that our latest sponsor, Zazzle (yay, Zazzle!), has really upped their game this year. In a big way. There’s a huge new selection of everything related to holiday cards–from stationery to return labels and even custom postage stamps–plus amazing custom gift ideas. We were really surprised ourselves to see what the site has become, and think it will be a great, affordable resource for our readers this year. We discovered they have millions (literally) of...

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