Friday, November 14, 2014

Christmas Giveaway & Gift Ideas

With Christmas fast approaching (as well as our baby) I've been feeling the pressure to get my shopping wrapped up. It shouldn't be too hard this year. There are a few reasons for this and I'll tell you why.

1. We have a toy plan.
2. We have our gift lists prepared.
3. I'm shopping on Amazon from the comfort of my own home. 
*Pssst- There is an Amazon gift card included in the giveaway at the end of the post! 

*FYI - this is NOT a sponsored post and the links included are NOT affiliate links. Just simply my Christmas shopping game plan for the year. That's all. :)

First off, let me tell you that our playroom is full of toys. Full of them! And you know what? I'm pretty sure there are kids out there that have way more toys than mine do. Toys are a great part of childhood -- they encourage creativity, pretend play and use of imagination. Toys are also great for learning. But you know what isn't so great about them? How about when they end up all over your house? Or when your children don't take care of them like you think they should? Kids will be kids, and the last two problems are sure to be an ongoing issue.

You might be thinking, what does this have to do with Christmas shopping? Well, it has caused my husband and I to re-evaluate the toys that our home is willing to take on. We have created a toy filter if you will. And I encourage you to do the same.

Some questions you might ask yourself:
Is it useful?
Does it encourage learning?
Can they play with it independently?
Will they enjoy playing with it together? (if multiple children)
Can they expand the collection in the future?
Are the parts/pieces something we want to keep track of?

I've been keeping a "wish list" on Amazon for months now. Anytime I see something (toys, product, book, etc) that I think would be a good gift idea for the future, I save it to my wish list. Likewise, whenever I think of something that I would like to give as a gift I find it on Amazon and also save it to my "wish list". This way when it comes time to shop, I have my list prepared and a few clicks later I can have my gifts ordered.

Here is the game plan for our boys (I included a few gifts that we have done in the past as well just for the sake of more ideas).

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

1 - My Father's Dragon (series)
We checked this small chapter book out from the library this summer. I knew my son was ready for chapter books a while ago, but the first one I chose was a little over his head. But this one! This one was perfect. In fact, we read the entire book in one day. He just couldn't get enough of it. Since then, we haven't been able to find the other two books at the library. Since it was his first ever chapter book, I figured I'd just purchase it for reading AND sentimental purposes! (girls would probably like this story too)

2 - Chutes and Ladders
The boys are really into simple board games. Their favorites are Candy Land and Trouble. The Trouble game that we have is Ninja Turtles themed, but the Candy Land one is super girly looking. I got excited when I found Chutes and Ladders in a super hero theme. Games always pass the toy filter test because we can all play them as a family.

3 - Children Headphones
Ear buds are not kid friendly, at least not for our kids. We currently only have one set of headphones like these, so another is needed for car trips (which relates to our family gift guide theme below).

4 - Basketball Hoop
This sturdy mini basketball hoop is awesome! We have a big plastic little tikes hoop in the basement, but this one is cool enough looking to be mounted to the wall in their bedroom. My youngest is REALLY into sports, so he would love this.

5 - Train Set
We decided that we prefer to get our kids gifts that can become a collection. Trains are perfect for that. Family and friends can buy them additional trains, tracks, etc for future holidays or birthday parties. This is also something that the boys can build and play with together. We do not currently own any trains, so I'm hoping this will be a fun new thing for them to play with while I have to tend to the baby.

6 & 7 - Educational DVDs
We don't purchase many DVDs, but every now and then we will get a few. A lot of educational programs are already on Netflix, but it's always a good idea to have a back up. They are great for traveling or when our kids stay the night with family. The Preschool Prep Meet the Sight Words Series is awesome! It's sorta simple (and maybe could be considered boring by adults) but my oldest LOVED them and learned several sight words in no time!

8 - Skylanders Trap Team
We accidentally stumbled upon the Skylanders game earlier this year when Koah spotted a dragon toy at our local Sams Club. I made him wait a whole week and do chores to earn the dragon. When we went back to purchase it, I realized it was part of a video game that had several more characters. A few weeks later we purchased the video game and have been collecting various characters. This is the next step. It's a big gift for the boys, but we all enjoy it as a family. I play. My husband plays. Koah plays. Kasen loves the characters. It's good all around.

9 - Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bags and childhood are a no brainer. I remember mine being the coolest, and I was always so excited to use it. In fact, I would sleep in a sleeping bag in the living room on Christmas Eve (hoping my kids don't ever want to do that one)! Anyway, we go camping at least once if not twice a year and need a sleeping bag for Kasen.


My husband and I also open gifts with our children on Christmas morning. We like to get things that we've needed, and we use Christmas as an excuse to splurge a little to actually purchase them. Our approach for the gifts this year has taken on a bit of a theme. When thinking about what we wanted and needed the thought of traveling came to mind. We like to travel and with young kids that travel usually occurs via a road trip.

Let me paint a picture for  you of what our car looks like on road trips...
Books and toys sprawled out over the back seat & back floor. Wires & chargers everywhere. Who gets to use the one charger and one inverter?  Trash crammed in the doors, plastic bags, etc.

To stop there, I will just tell you that it can get rather chaotic. And I know why.
FACT: You can't truly be organized unless you have the right equipment to keep you organized.

Behold, the right equipment... and the gifts on our "family" gift list for this year:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

1 - Car Organizer (portable)
I love the idea of these. Especially since it's portable with handles. We can easily bring it inside as we prepare for a longer car ride. Filling it with snacks, printed reservations, wet wipes are just a few ideas that come to mind. The structure would be nicer than just having a large bag (which is what we currently do).

2 - iPhone Holder
An iPhone holder like this could be useful for navigating purposes. I always keep my phone in the seat with me, and am constantly picking it up to check directions. Plus, with all of the entering and exiting the car during a road trip, the chances of it sliding off the seat onto concrete are rather high. That would not make for a pleasant memory.

3 - Seat Back Organizer
These don't have to be used just for kids, but I can certainly see why they are useful for families with children. I'm thinking a bit into the future when we need to have a 3rd row vehicle. It would be nice to have a few of these in the car to store our kids essentials. Tissues, books, a few toys, snacks, etc.

4 - Golf Umbrella
Golf umbrellas are my umbrella of choice. I can always count on them to stay sturdy during gusty winds, and they are big enough to cover myself and a few kiddos next to me.

5 - iPhone Tripod
Um, how cool are these!? While this isn't necessarily something to keep the car organized, it is an item I would like to keep in my car for travel. I'd love to have my big DSLR on me every time we travel, but it's just not realistic to whip out as often as I'd like when we have little ones to manage. Because of that, I often resort to my iPhone. An iPhone tripod is still tiny and would allow us to get family shots from time to time. Plus, they aren't expensive.

6 - Inverter
These devices are amazing. We already have one, but if we upgrade to a larger vehicle it would be beneficial to have one for the front and one for the back. These just allow us to use our regular devices like laptops, iPads, and non-car chargers for iPhones. They also come in handy for camping trips by allowing us to have an electric source to air up our mattresses.

7 - Air Fresheners
Can't go wrong with a fresh smelling car! Plus, these are a great and USEFUL idea for stocking stuffers.

8 - Large Carabiner
Oh my goodness, if you don't utilize these babies then you should immediately! These things have changed my life for the better. There have been times when I've had to carry numerous bags to the car myself. Kids luggage, snack bags, etc. I just loop all of the handles around a large carabiner and tada! It's so much easier to carry and doesn't cut the circulation off in my finger. They work the same for carrying groceries from the car to the house. And lastly they make an instance place to hang bags in your car. I just clip mine under the headrests on the bars and use them to hang up backpacks or my purse. (PS- I also use them in our coat closet to hang up various bags as well)

9 - Seat Protector with Pockets
It never fails that kids are messy. We could go the route of not eating in our vehicle ever... but that's a little unrealistic, especially for longer road trips. We've needed these seat protectors for a long time. I'm particularly font of the ones like these with the extra storage in the front.

There you have it. Our official Christmas shopping plans. What do you guys do to plan for holiday shopping? Anyone else pick out a theme? Anyone else have a toy filter!? The clock is definitely ticking, so if you haven't at least thought about gifts nows the time! 

Here is a nice little bonus to get you in the Christmas shopping mood: a giveaway! 

Myself, and some blog friends have organized a sweet "Cash for Christmas" giveaway that has $250 in prizes! Including that awesome Amazon gift card! Make sure to enter... spread the holiday cheer and tell all of your friends! Tis' the season! :)

Please make sure to check out all of the co-hosts' blogs because without them this giveaway would not be possible. 

Details about the giveaway are below. 


MLA - Tammy Creative K Kids - Tammy
Tammy from My Life Abundant and Tammy from Creative K Kids have gotten together with a few of our bloggie friends to have a giveaway!
Cash for Christmas Giveaway $250

We are so excited to be giving away $250 in cash prizes for you to use starting Thanksgiving weekend.  Here are the prizes:

1 - $100 Amazon Gift Card
1 - $50 Target Gift Card
2 - $25 Walmart Gift Card
1 - $20 Kohls Gift Card

Amazing. Right? Well, whats a gift card and getting up early, early to shop if you can't focus on your shopping.  

So how about we add a $5.00 Starbucks gift card to each one of the prizes above!!
But wait. There is one more prize.
1 - $5 Starbucks Gift Card
Now its time to meet our wonderful co-hosts who have made this giveaway possible.
Starting at the top row we have:
Kim of KidPep | Jody of Mom 'N Daughter Savings | Penny of Penny's Passion | Jeanne of Home Garden Joy | Leticia of Desafio In The City | Barb of A Life in Balance | Tricia of The Good Mamma | Mary of Your Designer Dog Blog | Alecia  of Detours in Life, Family Vacay, Family Time Travelers | Katie of The Ramblings of an Overtired Mama | Michelle of On A Wing and A Prayer | Lauren of Heart of Deborah | Christine of Your Strong Tower | Lindze  of Interior Fun | Michelle of The Happiness Blogger | Stacey of A Moment in our World | Nikki of MBA SAHM | Paula of Beauty Through Imperfection | Sarah of Mommy of Two | Scarlett of Scarlett's Excellent Adventures
Please stop by and say hi to these wonderful ladies and their blogs.
The giveaway will end midnight on Wednesday, November 26th, the night before Thanksgiving.  You will have 48 hours to respond to the email claiming the prize.  If you respond right away, we will get you the gift card promptly so that you can shop with it on Black Friday!  If we don't hear in 48 hours, we will choose another winner. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I do most of our shopping after thanksgiving with the majority being done on black friday (probably wont be happening this year with a 1 month old). We also do the same kind of planning as far as toys go...

    1. I love black friday shopping! Last year, I used a few of the deals I found as birthday presents instead since Koah's birthday is not too long after Christmas.

  2. Most years I do my shopping beginning in late June (after my kids' birthdays are done for the year). I save up little stocking stuffers and other items. This year with health issues and financial problems, I haven't gotten much of anything done yet. I don't shop the black friday sales but I will be among those buying over the next several weeks. Oy!

    1. That's so wise! I did that one year, where I started gathering a few items here and there. It was easier on the budget for sure. I just wasn't very organized with it at the time, but I'd love to do it again in the future! :)

  3. Thanks for the opportunity! I love your ideas on more ways to use a giant carabiner clip than just a stroller hook!

    1. Haha, I'm glad you liked my ideas! Those things are very practical -- they also serve as toddler entertainment when there are no toys available... :)

  4. I love the idea for a family wish list but not nearly as much as I love your idea to sleep in the living room on Christmas Eve! Ha!