cool mom picks collections
Curated picks from the Cool Mom Picks editors
Curated picks from the Cool Mom Picks editors
Don't let Halloween sneak up on you! Check out this collection of our favorite treats, kid-friendly costumes, and not-too-spooky decorations, and you'll be well-prepared for the 31st.
Every Halloween, one of the biggest questions we get from readers is what to do with the leftover Halloween Candy. Should you for some bizarre reason not want to eat every single bit of sugar your kids brought into the house this week, here are some of our favorite ideas from past posts.
If you're like me, you're going to wake up in the morning with a sugar hangover, wondering just what the heck to do with all those leftover Halloween candies.
Every year, without fail, I discover that we are missing at least one of my three kids' trick-or-treat bags. I'm not sure where they go, but I think there is some sort of black magic involved.
Um, I've seen what I look like in the morning if I haven't washed off my makeup...and it's downright scary. So I'm always on the lookout for awesome (and affordable) makeup removers. Here are three of my faves -- just in time for Halloween faces -- each at a price that won't make you scream.
You had big Halloween plans, right? And then...time slipped away. I've been there. Throw together a one of these super cute, last-minute treats with what you have on hand or can easily grab at the store.
On October 31st, I'll look the other way when my kids pop their tenth fun-sized candy treat in their mouths, but I wouldn't ever willingly smear toxic face paints onto their faces before they head out the door. But, after reading that most face paints do contain toxins that can get into their bodies and irritate delicate skin, I've got my eyes on a safer option to go along with their Halloween costumes.
Need a Halloween costume and don't want to get stuck with the last Sexy Teletubby costume at the store? The good news is that with a little DIY cleverness, you might find the answer in your own closet.
We have featured so many helpful posts lately on Halloween treats, tricks, costumes and beyond, we wanted to put them all in one place. After all, we can't be the only ones who still have plenty to do--or uh, haven't gotten started?
I'm not going to knock Thriller, but if you want to grab some fresh new tunes to liven up your Halloween gathering, we've got a collection that will have your ghosts and goblins dancing (or lurching) all over the place.
We are T minus less than a week to Halloween, which means the pumpkin carving and decorating can begin! (I tend not to carve too early or we end up with saggy pumpkin eyes and mouths by the 31st.) So I love this idea which looks great and can save you a little time.
The age-old Halloween question: what to eat before heading out to trick-or-treat? It has to be a meal that's quick or easy to fit between the mad rush of getting home from school and heading out for your annual candy collection.
Though I always complain about the full-to-bursting sack of candy my kids bring home on Halloween night, they just wouldn't be as excited by carrot sticks and apple slices. With that in mind, I try to buy treats from companies who take great care to make yummy things with better ingredients and no artificial dyes or fake flavors. Fortunately, a lot of these higher-quality treats can be found on the shelves of your local stores, like Whole Foods and Target, making it even easier to stock up in this week before the big day. But hurry---we all know the good stuff sells out first. -Christina
I love beautiful bento lunch boxes, but some of them make you feel like you need an MFA in order to make your kid's lunch. Especially holiday-themed lunch boxes! For Halloween I decided to come up with a few easy, festive lunch boxes.
Sure, Halloween is coming up, but around here we're zombie fans all year long. So it's no wonder these bold, fun prints caught our attention.
With some of our own kids at Cool Mom Picks grappling with peanut and tree nut allergies that range from mild to life-threatening, we really have a heightened awareness of making Halloween fun and safe for all kids.
If you're still looking for inspiration, or just want to ogle the effort and creativity (and uh, free time) of other parents, here are 22 amazing, outrageous, and inspired kids Halloween costumes that make us smile every time.
The way we check our smoke detector batteries twice every year with the time change, I like the idea of replacing my children's toothbrush at Halloween, or at least checking to see if it's time.
Last week we talked apple treats, and this week it's pumpkin time. You're picking pumpkins this year, right? Now all you have to do is seed, peel, and cube your pumpkin. So easy!
Though candy and Halloween go hand-in-hand, there are plenty of non-sweet treats my kids would still love to find in their bags at the end of the night. And for kids with severe food allergies, I think it's always a good idea to have a few food-free treats set aside to hand out too.
<I don't worry about running to the store to buy Halloween decor anymore, because I know that some of the best ideas can be printed right at home, for no more than the cost of some fresh ink in my printer.
Most of the Halloween candy I eat is pilfered from my kids' bags when they aren't looking. But if you'd like to give--or get--some chocolate treats that are much more grown up than snack-sized bars, check out what we've unearthed for Halloween from chocolatiers L.A. Burdick.
Even with the magic of Etsy and overnight shipping, we love knowing that with the right PDF file, anything is possible in the costume department. Whether you're into weird Nordic videos about foxes or need a superhero costume in a pinch, here's a great shop with unique masks that you can make by hand after a quick trip to the craft store.
The ever-growing lead time on holiday marketing can be overwhelming. I'm really not ready to think about Hanukkah or Christmas. But Halloween? That's a different story. Bring it on!
My kids have always preferred "open-ended" coloring-and-activity books like Fotoplay! or Let's Make Some Great Art over ones that ask them to just stay within the lines. So it's no wonder they're roaring for an imaginative new activity book that is monstrously fun...and just in time for writing spooky Halloween notes.
When Michaels Crafts puts out a call for bloggers to create the coolest, craftiest pumpkin decorating ideas you know they're going to come back with something awesome.
I still remember trying to coax my then 18 month-old into the carefully selected Halloween costume. Nothing. The best we could do was stick an apron on her over her diaper, put a wooden spoon in her hand and call her the Naked Chef. (It actually went over very well with the neighbors!)
I know I know, kids get so much candy on Halloween that sometimes it's fun to find treats and goodie bag ideas that don't involve candy at all. Instead of handing out plain ol' bags of candy, here are a few treat ideas for your classroom Halloween party that I really love.
If your kids are as excited about Halloween (already!) as mine, check out the fun and not-too-scary DIY Halloween craft kit from CMP favorite Kiwi Crate that will keep little hands busy and out of the Halloween candy stash
I will admit that we have been completely holding back on posting Halloween decor and craft ideas just yet. Can't we get through September yet?
Every Halloween, one of the biggest questions we get from readers is what to do with the leftover Halloween Candy.
Check out these ten super delicious, highly decadent treats that make genius use of leftover Halloween candy. You know, when you get bored of stealing it straight out of kiddo's bag. -Stacie
Trick-or-treating is still hours away and my kids are already talking nonstop about all Halloween candy. So to help maintain a bit of my own sanity today, I've rounded up a few ways to keep my kids busy and entertained until the evening rolls around. Here's hoping these ideas help you too!
My tween is finally beyond the check-under-the-bed-for-monsters stage, and is now onto reading scary stories "for fun." So once she hangs up her Halloween trick-or-treat bag for the night, I know she'll enjoy digging into this smart and spooky guide.
Jennifer Adams and Allison Oliver hooked us with their beautiful BabyLit counting and color board books based on classic literature like Alice in Wonderland and Jane Eyre. They've done it again--this time, with a counting Count Dracula.
Halloween candy can be scary for kids with food allergies (and their parents). So check out my favorite source for gluten- and allergy-free candy, as well as a few of my favorite allergy-friendly picks that any trick-or-treater will love.
Of all the scary things my kids might face on Halloween night, one thing looms most terrifying in their minds: the prospect of trick-or-treating at homes with no candy left to give.
Get out the flour and sugar. Crack the eggs (better use than egging the grouchy neighbors, trust us).
It's been nothing but Halloween crafts in our house for the past week, but with still another week to go, I'm stockpiling ideas to keep the kids busy. Next up on my list: these adorable spiderwebs that only require scissors and paper.
It took a while for me to get the appeal of no-carve pumpkin ideas. However every year, we grab some pumpkins in anticipation of carving them into fabulously silly or scary faces--then reality hits
Nope, it's not Dracula. It's not Edward, either. This little guy is waaaaay cuter (sorry, Team Edward).
If you are juggling a needy infant or a get-into-everything toddler this October, the last thing you probably want to think about is spending hours creating a fancy Halloween costume for your little pumpkin.
Looking for a sweet DIY Halloween project with a big payoff? These homemade candy bar recipes are the perfect way to celebrate Halloween with the kiddos.
Boo! Does talk of "natural" candy bars scare you? I promise to not encourage you to swap kiddo's peanut butter cups for carob covered apple rings (made from locally grown fruit--ha!).
If I started today, I could probably create Halloween costumes by hand for my three, although it would cost me dearly in terms of time and sanity. But here's another thought: instead of sweating over fabric and glue, I could just hit "print" for some super-cute Halloween masks, throw the kids in colored sweatsuits, and call it a day.
I'm not much of a cookie aficionado, but Halloween brings out the baker in me. (It also brings out the witch in me, but that's for another post.) In honor of my favorite cookie-making holiday, we've found the cutest, yummiest Halloween treats ever. So feast your zombie eyes on these. The kids are going to freak out!
I was pregnant over two Halloweens and looking back, I'm sad I never got into the spirit. Probably because I was just happy to get my own clothes and shoes on over my belly, let alone deal with a costume.
Browsing through our archives for cool Halloween ideas, I came across this old link to a post highlighting a recipe for super spooky eyeball Jell-O shots. Non-alcoholic for the kids, of course.
I wish my kids would smack their lips over kale chips the same way they do the junk-filled candy they stare at in the supermarket checkout line. But while I can't say I've found a line of candy made of kale (ha), I have discovered a brand that takes some of our favorite candy bars and reformulates them, without all the not-so-good stuff.
Like many of you, I'm waking up this morning, eying the huge pile of candy in my house and thinking, How can I get the darned stuff out of my house? We've got 5 great ways to help may your home a little less sugary over the coming week.
Boy have we spent time at Cool Mom Tech this past week, culling down the throngs of Halloween themed apps for kids.
Consider this your annual reminder from us about Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF. If it's never something you've done before, the premise is that your kids can ask for more on Halloween than just another sugary treat.
Halloween myths we'd like to clear up:1. Halloween isn't fun after age 12.2. Adults can't dress up.3. Parents are stuck eating the kids' leftover candy.
Yes, there may be a tiny person attached to you at all times. But this month, if you're creative or crafty, that could mean some amazing Halloween costume opportunities, just for mamas (or dads!) with slings.
With the money I'm spending on Halloween costumes and bags of candy, I'm not about to drop a fortune on decor too. So, I'm so pleased to have found so many affordable (and free!) printables that don't require me to do much of anything or spend much of anything.
My kids are at the age where their Trick-or-Treat bags return home weighing almost as much as they do. At this rate they'll be up to their knees in mini-treats until 2012. So I'm often looking out for other things to hand out at Halloween parties, or when the doorbell rings.
Let's face it: If Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter had twins, they would look just like this, and Johnny Depp would give them a set of onesies like this at their Beetlejuice-themed baby shower.
This year, time constraints and other crazy life things make it not so possible to attempt making our own costumes, but I've found a pretty great substitute.
Halloween is just around the corner and the overpriced costume catalogs are rolling in. Personally I am hoping to acquire something affordable, easy to get on and off, reusable and without any pink or glitter. Easier said than done right?
In spring, a young man's thoughts lightly turn to love. In fall, everyone's thoughts turn to a really kickass Halloween costume. Right?
yay for another shop that makes handmade superhero costumes for kids, inspired by kids' imaginations and not the comic characters on TV. And? They're super affordable.
My daughter is turning three soon, and I want to put together a dress up box for her. Any ideas for a great Etsy costume shop?
For one brief night in third grade, I was Wonder Woman. Though my polyester Halloween costume was pretty unremarkable, I loved those superhero wrist cuffs that had the power to deflect everything from bullets to spit balls.
If there was ever a time to play with food, it's Halloween. Spaghetti guts, Jello-brains...come on! Who doesn't love that!
You know what's scary? Realizing you've invited a bunch of little butterflies and superheroes to invade your home for a pre-trick-or-treating soiree, and not your house ready. Ahem
For the first year ever, since becoming a parent, I actually have my kids' Halloween costumes ready to go with more than 2 hours to spare before the 31st. Well, almost. The last thing we have to track down is some black cat nailpolish, and some green face paint to perfect my five year-old evil witch.
I poked around some of our favorite blogs and websites for a ton of inspiring craft ideas to help me get into the spooky spirit this week.
With some Halloween candies containing loads of hydrogenated oil, artificial colors and even high-fructose corn syrup, I appreciate why so many of us are taking a closer look at what we drop into those pillow cases come October 31st.
I've been thinking about having a small Halloween party for my three-year-old and her friends. Nothing elaborate. No baking required. And I'll send out the invitations on-line because who has the time to dig up everyone's actual address?
While my oldest would just as soon cover herself in a head to toe costume for Halloween, my other little one would is more in the "naked baby" camp. Amazing how kids are so different.
My kids still recall with disdain the house that gave out unsweetened popcorn balls and apples one year for Halloween. I understand the desire to offer something less junky, but a safer bet against toilet paper in my trees might be some of the all-natural, Vitamin C-packed gummy candies we've found.
One of my kids thinks that Mickey Mouse is a horror figure, so I've learned to keep our Halloween "unscawy." Instead of settling for whatever I can find in the big box stores, I get to look so put together by downloading CMP fave Paper&Cake's downloadable Trick or Treat Halloween Party decor which gives my gathering a pulled-together look without costing more than my Halloween candy budget.
Around our house, Halloween is right up there with Hanukkah and birthdays so of course we're looking to see what the grande dame of decorating has in store for this spooky season.
Now that I'm a nutrition-obsessed mom, I get where those raisin people were coming from that I made fun of when I was trick or treating as a kid. They didn't plan on being the lamest house on the block (although they were), but it sure is hard competing with all the sugar out there on Halloween.
September is Baby Safety Month, so we've rounded up some of our favorite picks that help keep babies, toddlers, and curious kids safer.
Q: Hi! Do you have any suggestions for rubber ducks for the bath or any teething toys that don't have paint that can come off when my 10 month old chews on them? Be loves the feel of rubber toys but we worry about the paint that comes off when he chews. Thanks. -Melissa
I firmly believe that the rule that applies to dogs should also apply to babies: always ask before touching. (Hey, let's add pregnant bellies to that list, too).
I'll admit the sun frightens me, especially where my little boys are concerned. But I don't let my fear keep us inside or under a tree--though I admit to having overloaded them with sunscreen until their limbs resembled a sheet of notebook paper.
Why does bathing our young in a tub have to be so darn hard? The bottom is slippery, so we've got to outfit it with a non stick mat. Then there is the problem with the water spout. It's shiny (so kids gravitate towards it, obviously), and it's also metal.
Our new house has lots of windows, with lots of brand-new window blinds. That means lots of window blind cords--and, to parents, those are serious business.
There's always been so much controversy about crib bumper safety. Even so, when my first son was a baby, I always longed for a bumper.
My sigOth, the culinary school grad, has turned me onto the joys of scissors in the kitchen. While I use them mainly to cut off the stupid packaging I can't pull open with my hands, he has always used kitchen shears for cutting herbs quickly, trimming veggies, and even cutting the kids' food into manageable bite sizes.
Who amongst us hasn't wanted to put our precious newborn in a germ-free, weather-protected, cocoon of safety at some point? That's not just me, right?
Q: So its time to baby proof, and we need stair gates, a play yard, soft surfaces and all the rest - have you found any eco and/or attractive choices for this? - Alysia R
When it first came time to baby proof our apartment, I went to that big-box baby store to get supplies and learned there were far more ways that my baby girl could injure herself than I'd ever imagined. (Hello, bubble wrap). What I didn't consider was our apartment pool.
We are considering starting a category in the CMP archives called "If You're Freaked Out By Germs..." There are evidently more high chair and shopping cart covers out there than I think people actually using them.
In honor of the illustrious holiday, Talk Like a Pirate Day, we've gone below deck and pulled up some of our favorite pirate picks that are perfect for your little buccaneer.
Fun fact: scurvy can make your teeth fall out, which means that many pirates had the same problems as our gap-toothed elementary school kids. So what a perfect little way we've discovered to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day!
Avast me hearties, it's International Talk Like a Pirate Day! And if you have a little landlubber who likes to plunder your desk drawers and yell arrrrrrr at all hours of the day and night, we have got the cutest little tee to add to your booty.
Arrr! What could be cuter than a tiny pirate rattle? Why, a tiny baby holding on to a tiny pirate rattle, of course.
Ready to put an end to the old question about how one man can defeat 10 ninjas? Well if he's a pirate in the hands of a very good checker player, it's not only possible, it's likely.
Avast, me hearteys and shiver me slumbers! This organic pirate bedding is the next best thing to being rocked to sleep in the crow's nest.
This Monday is TLAP. That's International Talk Like a Pirate Day, in case you were too busy getting keelhauled to check your calendarrrrrrr. We've been celebrating for years, of course and we've got the pirate underwear to prove it. But if you're on board, we've got some great ideas for gettin' yer grog on.
After falling in love with Canadian mom Kate Inglis' writing at her personal blog Sweet Salty, it was no surprise to me that she'd write a book. But what I didn't expect was that it would be the fantastically scrumptious morsel of kid fiction, The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods, now finally available in the USA.
When I was a kid, a tent was a musty quilt over a card table, and it was heaven. Kids have it a little better today, and the magic of a secret fort lives on
As the New York City taxpayer amongst us, I felt it my sworn duty (so help me Bloomberg) to try the New York Pizza flavor Pirate's Booty recently introduced by Robert's Gourmet.
The only thing that could make Alpha Mom's new designer online invitations made exclusively for Pingg better is if they'd been available last month when I was planning my son's birthday party.
We love Oliver Chin, author of the Tales from the Chinese Zodiac Series. In his latest book, Baltazar and the Flying Pirates, Chin teams up with illustrator (and blogger!) Justin Roth in this, um, high-flying tale of adventure and fortune.
It had to happen eventually--first Cookie Monster, and now pirates have gone on a health kick.
After having a son, I quickly realized that boys tend to get that end of the stick when it comes to decor options. Basically, you're stuck with some variation of planes, trains, or dinosaurs, and that's really about it.
Pirates may be lawless, mean and smelly, but I'm having a blast listening to the buccaneering rock of Portland, Oregon's Captain Bogg & Salty on their new CD, Emphatical Piratical. And fortunately, instead of telling my kids to rob and pillage, they've taught them some of the more practical things one needs to learn for a life at sea.
My son has decided he wants to be a pirate. For Halloween. And for a living. This is in large part because recently he's become the star of a personalized book called Here There Be Pirates from Flatten Me.
Make sure what you send to school comes home again with a set of colorful personalized labels.
With kids heading back to school (um, where did summer go?), it's time to start that long process of putting their names on everything they own.
Surely you've gotten the memo: Dear Parent, All of your children's items MUST be clearly marked with their names. Every time, I know the teachers mean me. I swear, I am always looking for the darn Sharpie to write my daughter's name on her sandwich box for the hundredth time. But eventually it washes off, and hey, I have other priorities to keep up with, like making sure there is some sort of lunch in the box suitable for consumption. So I am now humbled and grateful for the genius of Mabel's Labels, a longtime CMP fave. I fully believe they just may have a huge hit on their hands with their newest product--I know they're a hit in my house.
With school starting soon--or for some it's already started--books are being bought and soon, books will be lost.
We love chevrons around here. Their cool, retro School House Rock vibe somehow translates into the perfect pattern for modern kids.
Labels are a necessary part of school life, but don't go to the dark side and use marker on masking tape. With these free Star Wars printable tags, you don't have to.
I've been staring down the task of tagging a bunch of different items for my daughter's foray back to school. I don't know if it's because she's now a pre-K-er--a.k.a., one of the "big kids," (sniff)--or if that eau de Sharpie isn't my favorite scent in the world.
Anyone with kids know how important it is to label every single item they have. How else are you going to identify all the stuff that winds up in the lost and found bin?
If you're like me, then you probably try to have a nice stack of labels on hand for all those things your kids have to take to camp, school, daycare and everywhere else their busy little social calendars may take them. But when kids start to outgrow those ubiquitous frog and heart design options, what do you do?
No matter what season it is, I can always find a reason to use our Mabel's Labels, and with everything from summer camps and lessons, to pool playdates and picnics these days, I'm always putting those handy labels on something.
When I sent my older daughter off to day care, I scrawled her initials on masking tape and stuck these makeshift labels haphazardly on her bottles, thinking that ought to suffice. Oh, how wrong I was.
We can't make the lunch for you, but we've got some great picks to help get it to the cafeteria and---hopefully--eaten by your hungry little scholars.
I still remember opening up my lunch each school day and looking for something sweet from my mom. While nothing could beat a handful of chocolate kisses or a few homemade cookies, a "sweet" note tucked in between the sandwich and apple often did the trick.
img style="float: left;" title="School Lunch Pictures on Cool Mom Picks" src="http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j29/coolmompicks/cool%20mom%20food/OneHungryMamaDailySchoolLunch.jpg" alt="School Lunch Pictures on Cool Mom Picks" width="250" height="188" />Soon we'll be back in the swing of things and the back-to-school chatter will die down, but there's one thing you can't do at the beginning of the school season and have it over with: School lunch.
There's no shortage of cool lunch containers, bento boxes, water bottles and other fun accessories to help make your kid's lunch a little more appealing than our own brown-bag days of yore. Here, we've pared them down to a few of the very coolest for our 2013 back to school shopping guide.
At some point this school year--sooner than you think--both you and your child will grow weary of the humble school lunch sandwich. It's a known quantity, which is comforting some days, but not every day, right?
Finding the best new lunchboxes and lunch bags for kids is one of our favorite back to school rituals. It's even more fun that we get to pick more than one, since we're shopping for you all!
Many of my Cool Mom Picks comrades swear they prefer backpack shopping to planning school lunches, but I admit it: I enjoy the challenge of getting creative with packed lunches. Sure, I get in a rut sometimes, but a pantry full of go-to school lunch snacks helps keep things interesting when the main lunch course is yet another PB&J. (Sorry, kids.)
So here's a chore I haven't been missing this summer: packing endless school lunches. Argh! Trying to come up with variety and good nutrition for my kids drives me nuts. I'm already looking for new ideas for the coming school year, and I think I've found a pretty clever source.
My kids have loved Milkdot lunch bags since we first found them. And Milkdot's brand new styles give us one more reason. Or, three.
I take lunchbox shopping verrrrry seriously. I need a durable, reusable lunch pack for the kids that is insulated, looks great, is eco-friendly, and stays closed (so the leftover crumbs don't take up residence in my car). Take it from a woman who just took on a thousand goldfish crackers wreaking havoc in the trunk: we've found a fabulous new option.
I've always liked I've always liked BuiltNY's lunch totes, so much so that I own a few of them myself. I can assure you they've all stood the test of time. And the test of peanut butter.
Healthy lunchbox snacks seem to be one of the frequent requests from our readers. I'm generally a from-scratch girl, but life--and lunch packing--with two little ones can get hectic. Despite my dedication to all foods homemade, I rely on a pantry stocked with healthier packaged snacks for when we're in need.
Between summer camp and school, tossing an ice pack in with a sandwich, apple and yogurt is pretty much a no-brainer at this point. But when you consider that not all lunch boxes and ice packs are made for each other, there are plenty of times when I hesitate to pack a yogurt or a container of sliced fruit.
My kids and I are suckers for cool lunch boxes and bento boxes. We are constantly stealing each others--they take my "sophisticated" boxes and sometimes I borrow Hello Kitty.
Of all the ways my family has gone a little greener, perhaps the easiest has been ditching plastic bags for reusable bags. And since discovering this new brand, we're almost completely plastic bag free when it comes to snack time and school lunches.
For those of you with kids (like my son) who would rather eat just a little bit of everything instead of a big Dagwood sandwich, CMP favorite LunchBots is going to make your day. (If not your kids' lunch.)
I've been using the 3greenmoms LunchSkins eco-friendly sandwich bags ever since we featured them here awhile back, so how exciting to hear that they're launching a brand new line for Target. Hooray!
Ready for some Valentine's Day sweet talk? You can pack a festive Valentine's Day lunch that'll make kiddo swoon without even relying on those candy conversation hearts.
In light of our recent peanut butter alternatives post, I've been really thinking about other ways to get protein into my kids at lunchtime, whether it's school mandated or not.
School's back in session, and I'm back into my daily routine of packing lunches for my sons. I've been trying to think of ways to make this less of a chore, and I'm pretty sure I've found the answer.
When my son started Kindergarten last year, I never realized how confusing the snack/lunch situation can be. As opposed to preschool, my son had to navigate his food choices on their own. I found he was devouring his sandwich at snack instead of lunch
You can't have a back to school lunchbox without all the cool goodies inside. We've got you covered when it comes to all the cool accessories that definitely make lunchtime every kids favorite subject.
It's a tradition for so many families - the school year starts off with a clean new lunch box, full of promise (and not so full of last year's peanut butter crud). Here are a few that we love because they're not only adorable, they're built to last.
Welcome to our second installment of our back to school shopping guide, featuring 8 better lunchbox snacks for your kids.
Remember back when lunch boxes were actually metal? I had a Holly Hobby one I adored (no cracks about my age, please!), though if I'd had the option of having my name on the box I probably would've happily chucked Holly for that.
I am tired of grabbing a quick, on-the-go "power" bar for my kids (and for me), only to find yet again that we're just eating a glorified candy bar.
We've been such fans of Beatrix NY over the years (you might know them as Dante Beatrix), because everything they make is pretty much awesome. Their motley little menagerie of creatures range from robots to bunnies to not-particularly-scary dinosaurs.
I'm definitely an eco-minded person, but I don't think I'm alone when I admit that sometimes convenience wins out over conscience.
We know school lunches have been the butt of jokes since the invention of "mystery meat." But, if watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution taught us anything, it is that what our kids eat at lunchtime can get better with the effort and cooperation of schools and parents.
I realize that school is now in full swing, but if you have yet to find the perfect lunch box, or if your house is the mysterious Bermuda Triangle of lunch bags like mine, you can't have too many lunch bags.
I know, I know - we keep featuring reusable snack bags! What can I say, there are so many to choose from these days. Our job is just to pare down the cool ones for you, and we've got a couple more options for you, whatever your own personal lunch packing needs.
Packing kid lunches is one of my least favorite things; rummaging for useable plastic food containers and matching them to lids that have migrated between several shelves (yes, plural. In my house, it's an Issue) is a misery.
It's only a week into school around here in the deep south, and already I hear a lot of my mom friends complaining that they've exhausted their lunchmaking tricks.
We're lunch packers around my house, but when there's no microwave to heat up anything, it makes it challenging to pack the hot lunch my daughter would beg for. Too bad we didn't have new Crocodile Creek insulated food jars, now at mom-run boutique Cattiwampus.
I can't believe I'm already looking at back to school items for my kids, but that I am. So I checked in to see if last year's CMP find, Dabbawalla Bags, was doing anything new for 2010. And that they are.
I still use the soft cooler that I bought 10 years ago to lug around bottles and baby food for things like fruit, yogurt and juice pouches. But there is no doubt that if I were buying one now I would look no further than the Cooler Bags by SoYoungMother.
I once packed the same apple in my son's lunch for an entire week. Every afternoon it was still there, and he'd promise to eat it the next day, and then he'd bring it home again until I finally made him eat it. And it's not even that he doesn't like apples, but as he says, it's "complicated" to eat a whole apple in a 20-minute lunch period.
I know every week one of us shows up here saying OMG I found the cutest lunchbox EVE but I think I may have just topped them all with the Shinzi Katoh Japanese bento boxes for kids.
I do not have six million free hours in my day but if I did, I just might consider turning my kids' sandwich into a giraffe. Or a caterpillar. Or Sponge Bob.
Thank goodness for peanut butter (and yogurt and cheese) for without it, I'm not entirely sure how my practically vegetarian girls would get any protein in them. And thank goodness for Justin's Organic nut butters, which make me feel a little better about their addiction.
When my daughter turned five last month, we decided to be completely done with any cups with a top. That's all fine and dandy when we're home, but it does make life a little difficult when we're on the road.
I have to admit that the drinkable foods sort of freak me out. Applesauce with no spoon? Oh, the horror.
The day I realized how many plastic baggies I was using in my kids' lunches each week was the day I began trying every sort of reusable container and wrap out there.
The PVC-free lunch totes from Milkdot just may be the answer to my--and your--lunch-packing wishes and hopes and dreams. They are absolutely practical for kids heading off to camp or their first full day at school in the fall (sniff, whimper) but truth be told, the design is so stylish I'd be thrilled to bring them to work myself.
As my daughter's preschool starts preparing us for next year's (eep!) full day schedule, I'm suddenly faced with the reality that we're going to have to send her to school with lunch. Every day.
We're all for whatever it takes to improve the quality of school lunch programs, and the progressive Revolution Foods has been a leader in California doing just that. Now, the rest of us in the country get access to clever, organic kids snacks and treats from them and yeah, I'm happy.
I haven't packed a lunch in years thanks to my daughter's half-day preschool but I will soon, and I can't say I'm looking forward to it. Not just because of the time suck, but the amount of waste generated for a sandwich, some carrots and a couple of cookies. Enter the reusable sandwich bags from Lunchskins.
Every fall, when the new school year rolls around and I stare down at that bane of my existence, the empty lunchbox, I tell myself that this year will be different. But every year by about December, my daughter is getting virtually the same lunch every single day, and all of the joy is gone. It's a sad, sad state of affairs.
Ridding my home of all of our plastic water bottles of questionable safety felt good, but then I realize- duh-I needed some water bottles.
For those of you who have seen the word vegan in the headline and are about to click away, don't. Yes, the meals in the newly reissued Vegan Lunch Box recipe book all skip the animal products, but even kids who live on a diet of chicken nuggets will find things to love here.
I'm tired of unpacking a picnic lunch and finding that the sandwiches have been squished or the plastic containers have spilled their contents all over the inside of the cooler. Next time, I am putting things in the colorful, streamlined bento lunch box from LA's Plastica boutique.
Some of our favorite diaper bags that don't scream "diaper bag!"
Since I love everything Orla Kiely, I'm so glad to see this London designer out with a cool new diaper bag for moms who don't want to trade their sense of style for their sense of practicality.
We've made no qualms about expressing our love for Beaba's cool baby feeding products, from the awesome BabyCook Pro (included in our Baby Shower Gift Guide) to their folding bottle-drying rack. So when we found out that Beaba had entered the realm of diaper bags with a new line, we knew we had to check them out.
My obsession with stripes runs deep, so much so that I'm coveting yet another skip*hop diaper bag (love them!) even though I'm waaaay past the diaper bag stage. But...but...this one is limited edition!
Even though I'm only in my second trimester, I'm all about planning, so naturally, I've already bookmarked some of my most coveted diaper bags (thanks to Cool Mom Picks).
The more kids I added to my brood, the more I actually wanted (and needed) a smaller diaper bag.
As someone with a certified handbag addiction, you can bet that I've always been pretty picky about the diaper bags I carry, insisting that I should be able to use it long after my baby was out of diapers.
I've been noticing something in the land of designer bags these days. It's flashy. And shiny. And very, very cool. The metallic trend is popping up in handbags everywhere, but that doesn't mean that mamas can't be part of it, too with one of these 5 beautiful diaper bags.
Diaper bags are kind of like minivans. They are super practical, but don't exactly scream funky fresh. But this new Tokidoki and Ju Ju Be diaper bag collaboration is like taking your Honda Odyssey and making it a low rider.
As we start heading towards fall, I've got new diaper bags on the brain. (Why should back to school shopping time be just for the kids?) It's been a while since I took a look to see what diaper bag label JP Lizzy has been up to.
Considering how much we love all the products from 7am enfant, I'm not surprised at all that I'm in love with their new luxury diaper bag. I've seen many a stylish diaper bag that looks fantastic but doesn't exactly hold up to the test of kids and their 400 Cheerios and sippy cups.
When I first got a look at the newest designer diaper bag design from CMP fave Mia Bossi, I thought there was just no possible way that it was a diaper bag. But like their other bags we've been drooling over for years now, it is -- and oh my, it's gorgeous
We're always fans of Petunia Pickle Bottom bags, thanks to smart design, elegant patterns, and a rugged refusal to succumb to ruination.
Sippy cup: check. Snacks: check. Wipes: darn tootin'.
I'm particularly envious right now of the Jonathan Adler Skip Hop line that launched yesterday. Which is funny, because I do not miss the days of hauling a diaper bag around with me.
When it comes to diaper bags, fancier isn't always better. Sometimes I just need something simple and classic to get the job done.
Chic and diaper bag are not two words you see in the same sentence very often, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and declare the new offering from Timi & Leslie just that--chic!
I have nothing against backpack diaper bags. In fact, with four kids in tow, I completely understand their usefulness. I just haven't yet found one that fits my style.
Having a baby right at the change of season is very dangerous for my wallet because it's far too easy to rationalize a new diaper bag purchase.
Some days, I tend to be a bit of an over-packer. What if the kids get really thirsty and they finish their water bottles? Better pack an extra. What if they have a run-in with a mud puddle? Better pack clean outfits for each of them.
I've owned my fair share of diaper bags, and I've definitely got a sweet spot in my heart for the huge, honkin', very pricey bags that might just fit all your personal belongings and your baby. But by the same token, it's just not feasible for me to lug something like that around, especially with three kids and another on the way.
Both Liz and I espoused the greatness of Crystalyn Kae's Soiree bag - so much so that it was our pick for Cool Mom Picks Bag of the Year in 2008
I was just thinking it's been a while since I saw any fun new diaper bags to get excited over, and then CMP fave Hedvig Bourbon goes and reads my mind and creates well, some fun new diaper bags to get excited over.
They'll need it for 180 days of the school year, so make sure their backpack is up for the job. Plus, we love how these unique picks look when carried down the street to the bus stop.
So here's something I didn't know: More than 46 million Americans are living below the poverty line right now. And of those 46 million people, 23% of them are kids.
One of our favorite annual traditions is shopping for a cool new backpack with our big kids to get them excited for the school year. With any luck, these picks should last you beyond a year--or at least give a second kid some joy with a gently used backpack next September.
We are so excited to bring you our annual back to school shopping guide, all fresh and fun for 2013. What's the fun of going back to school--making lunches every morning? No! It's finding your kids' first new backpacks.
Back to school shopping season gets earlier every year, doesn't it? I have to say, there's something about a shiny new backpack ready for new learning and new adventures that makes the season more fun. I mean, for the kids. Of course.
During this back-to-school season, it can be kind of easy to forget that there are some kids in the world who don't go to school at all. But you can help--all with the purchase of a super-cool bookbag or backpack from an amazing company.
It's 2012, and we still don't have our jet packs, hovercars, and personal house-cleaning robots. But we have found that robot backpacks are super hot, so we've rounded up a fantastic collection of the very best ones, to keep your kid company at school.
I learned the hard way, as have many parents, that if you buy a cheap backpack for your kid, even your toddler, you will be buying a second (and possibly third) backpack before the school year is through. So now I look for good quality, functionality, and still a cute design.
I take backpack shopping very seriously. My kids are hard on their stuff, so by the time spring rolls around, we may need to upgrade what seemed so new and fresh in the fall.
If you haven't yet settled on a new backpack for your older kid yet, I think she'll probably love this one--at least if she's a fan of Twilight, or vampires, or True Blood. Which she is. As required by law.
Sometimes when I'm chasing four kids around the zoo, the playground, or the pool, I've wished for a bag that I can just pop on my back. Yes, I know that's called a "backpack," however, I'm not really a backpack kind of a gal.
I've learned that as my kids get older, they will have plenty of time to use their decked out backpacks with the 400 pockets and zippers. And I'll have lots of chances to clean them out. But for my little preschooler, I'm digging the new simple canvas backpacks from Blabla Kids.
We're huge fans of the Dante Beatrix backpacks for almost too many reasons to mention - the eco-friendly materials, the perfect toddler sizing, the adorable designs. How's that for a start?
You probably already know Crumpler for their sturdy, stylish bags for adults. Or at least you should. But now they've gone and shrunk two of their favorites down to kid-size and it's definitely worth a look.
My three year-old has entered that phase I'm lovingly describing as Her Jerk Phase. As in, the movie The Jerk. Remember that scene where Steve Martin says "The ashtray, the paddle thing and the remote control. And these matches. That's all I need. And this chair." Well that's how it is getting out of the house with my daughter these days.
Okay so you went and got that Dora (or whatever) backpack for your daughter that she begged for - and now, only six minutes into the school year she's too old for it. How quickly they grow. And how taxing it can be on our wallets.