My Groupon Christmas Gift Pick!

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Photo Credit-American Laser Crafts From Qualtry

I’m so on this Groupon Deal! These Personalized Serving Boards from American Laser Crafts From Qualtry are adorable and the perfect Christmas gift. Here’s the best part, look at the price!

Choose from Three Options

  • $5 for one personalized handled serving board ($29.99 value)
  • $9 for two personalized handled serving boards ($59.98 value)
  • $13 for three personalized handled serving boards ($89.97 value)

I’m not sure when this deal expires, so if you’re interested I would totally hope on it! I’m already thinking of who I’ll be sending them too this year.

Visit Groupon for This Deal Here’s the Direct Link: https://www.groupon.com/deals/american-laser-crafts-4437-amarillo

Kick Out the Case of The Christmas Gimmes in Your Kids! 4 Ways for Kids to Show the Christmas Spirit of Giving!

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Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, but it’s been known to bring about a terrible case of the gimme’s in children. Who hasn’t heard,”Give me this, give me that, I want, I want…Please!” So, how do we kick the gimmes out of our home and the entitlement attitude that goes along for the ride? I believe it is a two step process and both steps start with us being intentional. First, in actions and words we need to relay to our kids why we’re celebrating Christmas. Secondly, we spend time reflecting on who Jesus was as a servant and initiate discussions on how we can  imitate his love through our actions, words, and heart.

Instead of focusing on the gift receiving, encourage your children to be gift givers. Now, this doesn’t mean spending money or getting fancy, but by doing simple meaningful acts to show their gratitude to  and for others.

Here are some ideas to get them off the gimme track and onto the giving path!

  • Cards and Words Gratitude: Encourage them write personal notes/cards of gratitude to their grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, teachers or anyone whose important to them. If your kids have the gift of gab, let them create a video to send to loved ones! Tell them to be creative and have fun!
  • Gifts of Service: Instead of spending money on gifts for their siblings or for you, ask them to give a gift of service. Maybe it is shoveling snow for the neighbor or taking a chore for the week from a sibling, basically anything that is service oriented would work!
  • Volunteer During the Holiday: Research and compile a  list of volunteer opportunities that are age appropriate and have them choose one to pursue. For example, many nursing homes welcome children’s visits year round.
  • Encourage Your Kids to Throw a Party: Allow them to invite friends over for hot chocolate, cookies and movies, but the catch is everyone brings a toy for a Christmas Donation that will go to a shelter. Mom. make sure you hand the reigns over so that they take on the role of party planner.

These are just four simple ways to bring back the giving aspect of Christmas that can easily become overshadowed by the constant push of our culture’s consumerism attitude during a season that’s supposed to reflect the love of Christ, not how many gifts we can fit under the tree. Ask your kids to come up with ideas as well to inspire them to get into the spirit of service! I’m sure you’ll be blown away by their generosity!

11 DC Holiday Markets to Visit!

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I live for a good street market and all the better if it is a holiday market! Check out these holiday markets for unique gifts, music, treats and a good time!

CREATE+DISCOVER
When: December 1-4
Where: White Cloud Gallery (1843 14th St. NW, second floor)
Admission: Free, workshops are $65

MISS PIXIE’S HOLIDAY MARKET
When: December 2, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Where: Miss Pixie’s (1626 14th St NW)
Admission: Free

CHRISTKINDLMARKT
When: December 2-4, from 4-9 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday
Where: Heurich House Museum (1307 New Hampshire Ave NW)
Admission: $10, includes admission to the museum

HOLIDAY CERAMICS SALE
When: December 2-4,
Where: The Art League’s Madison Annex (305 Madison St., Alexandria)
Admission: Free

NATIVE ART MARKET
When: December 3-4, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Where: Atrium at the National Museum of the American Indian
Admission: Free

ROSSLYN HOLIDAY MARKET FESTIVAL
When: December 9-10, from 3-11 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday
Where: Gateway Park
Admission: Free

DC MAKER’S MARKET

When: December 11, 12 – 5 p.m.
Where: East City Bookshop (645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE)
Admission: Free

GRUMP
When: December 17, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Where: Shops at Crystal City (1750 Crystal Dr. Arlington)
Admission: Free

GARDEN DISTRICT HOLIDAY MARKET
When: November 26 – December 18
Where: Garden District (801 14th St. NW)
Admission: Free

DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY MARKET
When: November 25 – December 23, 12 – 8 p.m.
Where: F Street NW between 7th and 9th streets
Admission: Free

116 KING
When: November 10 – December 31, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily
Where: 116 King (116 King Street, Alexandria)
Admission: Free

10 Free Activities to Do With The Kids During the Holidays In The DC Area

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Living in the DC Metro area affords a great opportunity to experience the holidays with your family without breaking the bank! As a single mom I’m always on the search for fun, free, activities to do with my daughter and I’m happy to say that there isn’t a shortage of events in the area to attend! Here are my top free events to take the kids to this season!

10 Fun Activities To Do In the DC Area That Are Free!

  1. The National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace: The lighting is on the 1st of December and tickets are sold out, but visiting the tree is free throughout the season, and musical performances are held nightly. White House Ellipse, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC.
  2. Zoo Lights: Walk through the National Zoo and be dazzled by the 500,000 lights! Grab a hot chocolate when you’re walking through and enjoy live musical performances and tasty treats! It’s open from 5 -9 PM. 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008.
  3. Smithsonian Holiday Festival, December 3-4th: Events are from 10 am-5 pm and include concerts, book signings, trunk shows, kid-centric activities and more. Participating museums include the National Museum of American History, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of the American Indian and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
  4. Season Greenings: The Botanical Gardens has an absolutely stunning Christmas display the kids will love. It’s open from 10 am-5 pm.
  5. 2016 Festival of Lights at the Washington, DC Mormon Temple: We did this for the first time last year and it is breathtaking.The lights, the manger, and the beautiful displays of the birth of Christ from various different countries is an experience you won’t want to miss. Dusk to 10 p.m. nightly. Nativity scene is open each evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Live musical performances begin at 7 and 8 p.m. 9900 Stoneybrook Dr, Kensington, MD 20895
  6. 2016 Parade of Lighted Boats: Enjoy DC Soutwestern waterfront with a  hot cocoa, live music,  and a parade of lighted boats on December 3rd from 5-8 pm. From the Docks of Alexandria to Southwest Waterfront in DC – 600 Water Street SW, Washington, DC 20024.
  7. Swedish Christmas Bazaar: Visit the Swedish marketplace, snack in the Swedish café, try to win prizes and stick around for the main event: the St. Lucia procession with traditional caroling on Saturday, December 3rd, 11 am-5 pm.House of Sweden, 2900 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20007.
  8. Holiday Train Show in Union Station: A lovely train display open daily.
  9. Bethesda Winter Wonderland: On December 3rd 1-4 pm Enjoy live ice sculpting, performances and a visit from Santa!
  10. Winter’s Eve at Glen Echo: On December 10th from 4-7 pm. Enjoy free activities including holiday crafts, sing-alongs, story-telling, open studios, and a hot chocolate bar.

I hope you and your family get to enjoy some of these fun activities for FREE this Christmas Season!

Fun Advent Ideas!

One of our other Advent Traditions is our Advent Calendar. Every day I put a little Hershey Kiss in the boxes of our cute Santa Calendar and there are also small figures from the story of Jesus’ birth placed in the boxes. If she pulls one out than we talk about how that person figured into the birth of Jesus.  This is a sweet fun tradition the kids will love!

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Advent Ideas! How About An Advent Tree

I love love love our Advent Tree! This is a fairly new tradition that we started about two years ago. In addition to our real tree in the house, we have an additional tree on the porch that reminds us each day when we enter and leave our home why we we’re celebrating Christmas. This tree doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it has little pockets with numbers on them for each day leading up to Christmas. Inside those pockets are scriptures that we bring into the house to read during our lighting the Advent candles.

If you want to try this fun tradition, I suggest buying an inexpensive artificial tree big or small that you can put somewhere in your home. Let the kids find the scriptures and write the book of the Bible and verse on a slip of paper to put in little envelopes around the tree. I found my pockets at Michaels, but you can easily create them yourself. Every day let one of the kids pull out the scripture to bring into read for breakfast or dinner.

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Advent Ideas! Try These DIY Advent Boxes

One of our Advent traditions is me hiding these Advent boxes I made for Anya a few years back. Basically, these were just different cardboard shaped boxes I got from Michaels that I painted red and green. Then I cut out Christmas scrap book paper and pasted it on top with stick on numbers and Christmas embellishments. She loves them! I put little trinkets in them and hide them around the house every day until Christmas!

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5 Tips to Make Co-Parenting & Sharing The Holidays a Little Easier

university-pressHolidays can be complex when you’re co-parenting, but if you keep the lines of communication open and boundaries in place you will get through it. What is most important is that your kids enjoy their holiday, feel loved, and spend time with their parents with as little confusion as possible.

Here are my 5 Tips on Keeping Co-parenting During the Holidays Civil and Happy!

  1. Confirm Plans with the Other Parent: Many parents have a court-appointed schedule in place for the holidays which lays out the specifics of pick up and drop off times. If you don’t have an order, it’s important to communicate with your child’s parent the days your child will spend with them for the holiday, the time they will pick them up,  and return them home. I suggest writing the schedule in an email and then communicating a week before to confirm so there won’t be any surprises or miscommunication.
  2. Stick to the Schedule: Consistency is so important when you share the holidays. Listen, things happen that can be out of our control, but try to stick to the structure you have in place.  Kids won’t feel shuffled around, instead they will feel secure if they know the plan.
  3. Keep Lines of Communication Open with Your Kids: Communicating with your kids about the holiday schedule shows that you respect them. Let them know at least a month ahead of time who they will be with during the holiday and how the time will be split. This is especially important with very young children. In my experience kids are pretty adaptable as long as you communicate clearly and honestly with them.
  4. Plan in Advance: Make the transition as simple and stress-free as possible. If they’re packing a bag, make sure they have everything they need at least a few days in advance. If you want to celebrate with them, do it a couple days before they leave. Another, thing you may want to do in advance is have them call their relatives before they leave if they won’t be able to talk to them on the actual holiday. A little preparation goes a long way in co-parenting.
  5. Put Your Best Foot Forward: Holidays are highly emotional and potentially stressful times. If you’re in a good place with your children’s father that is great! But, the reality is for many this is a complex relationship. I can’t stress enough how important it is to the well-being of your children to set aside differences during the holiday transition so they feel comfortable about leaving with the other parent. A kind word and a smile won’t kill you. If you’re the parent who has your child during the holiday, encourage them to call the other parent and if possible you may even want to offer a day for them to spend some time together.

The best thing you can do is always put your kids first and do what is best for them. The cooperation and kindness you show to your child’s dad is the biggest gift you can give them!