gift ideas for children

  • Better Than Nutella?

    nutellaI remember the first time I tasted Nutella. My step daughter brought it over, and I thought it had a weird name and at the time I wasn't very adventurous with food. I almost didn't try it, can you imagine?! But just one lick, and I was hooked.

    And, apparently I'm not alone, because back in 2007, February 5 was chosen as World Nutella Day! A couple of fans decided that just enjoying it in the privacy of their own homes was simply not enough. They reasoned that any food that has the capacity to create childhood memories that last for a lifetime should have it's own day, no?  Not sponsored by Nutella, these fans stepped up and created a day set aside to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to EAT Nutella. Sounds good to me!

    Imagine what a homemade version of Nutella would do for your awesome factor with  friends and family. You don't have to tell them how easy it was either....they will think you are pure genius when they taste it. Who knows, maybe you could even give Nutella a run for their money.

    You'll need:

    • 1 cup hazelnuts
    • 4 teaspoons coconut oil
    • 6 ounces 65% dark chocolate, melted
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    1. Dump your hazelnuts onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and roast in a 350* oven for about 10 minutes.
    2. Let the nuts cool, then wrap them in a dish towel and shake to remove the skins.
    3. Next, put the nuts in your food processor and process until smooth.
    4. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until you have a nice smooth butter.
    5. Jar it up, and store in the fridge until you're ready to give it away (unless you eat it first, which is likely to happen so you may as well just make a double batch). It'll keep for a good month if you manage to resist.

    I dare you to try this.


    Recipe adaptation


  • Frosty the Snowman Treats | Easy and Fun!

    FrostyYou know how it is at Christmas time. We spend loads of time shopping for our littles, wanting them to have the latest and greatest cool toy. With overflowing love in our hearts, we usually spend way too much money, and we know we're spending way too much money but we do it anyway. Then Christmas morning comes, and what happens? They are simply fascinated with the box!

    It's true, kids can entertain themselves for hours with a cardboard box, and this tells us something about how they see the world.....simply! Let's transfer that information into the Christmas treats we make for them, too. I can remember spending countless hours making adorable sugar cookies, icing them, decorating them, and I'm definitely not saying this tradition should be abandoned. But, I present to you today a very simple and yet classic treat that the kids are going to love.

    I found this idea, dubbed as Frosty the S'more-Man (isn't that clever?!), at a very fun and crafty website. These make perfect little packages for all the littles in your world . . . classmates gift, neighborhood friends, and any other place that your littles gather in their little worlds! Here's what you'll need to do these up right, and you're going to be surprised at how simple and affordable it is. You know, kinda like the cardboard box every kid loves to love.

    For each little package you'll need:

    • 2 graham cracker squares
    • 1 mini Hershey bar
    • 1 snowman peep
    • 1 - 4" x 6" cello bag (available at Michaels)
    • 1 free printable bag topper (available here)
    • stapler

    Load up the goodies in the bag, print your topper, fold it in half around the top of the bag and staple. I told you it was easy!

    Happy S'more-Man making!


    Photo courtesy




  • Helping Others Help Themselves

    stormWe had a rip roaring storm blow through last night, complete with 50-60 mph gusts and golf ball sized hail. It was over in a matter of minutes, and wasn't as severe as others have been. However, for people who have ever lived through a tornado or hurricane level straight line winds, any event like this is scary.

    Best to be prepared, no? It may not be on the top of everyone's I-gotta-have-this-for-Christmas-or-I'll-die list, but you can be sure that adults who HAVE survived these horrible storms will be so grateful. There are lots of resources online for putting together emergency kits, many of them selling you something. I have compiled a list of items to stock up on, and if you are building your own emergency kit, it's the perfect opportunity to buy double or triple quantities to give to loved ones.

    • Water - the recommended quantity is one gallon per person per day, 3 days minimum. Nursing moms and those who are sick may need more. Purchase bottled water, and store in a dry, cool place without opening.
    • Food - canned foods with high water content, dry cereal, salt free crackers and dry mixes . . . things that don't require refrigeration. Include a manual can opener too. :)
    • Mess kit, complete with paper plates, cup and towels and plastic utensils.
    • Battery powered or hand-crank weather radio. I picked up one of the hand cranked types for my husband a couple years ago and they work well. Most come with a battery option, so keep plenty of batteries stocked with it.
    • Flashlight AND extra batteries! Enough said.
    • Emergency candles and matches, stored in a water proof container.
    • First aid kit - doesn't have to be huge, but a basic one with sterile dressings, cleaning agent, antibacterial ointment, and latex gloves. A first aid reference manual is a great idea too.
    • Whistle - if there is a rescue team trying to get to you, this will be such a great help.
    • Extra cell phone battery and non electric charging devices.
    • Pet food and water.
    • Blanket for each person.

    This list is clearly not exhaustive, but any of these items would be a great way to say "I love you", don't you think? Last night's storm reminded me that I want to get some of these things for my 20-something kids. I know they're invincible, but I can't help myself. ;)


    Photo courtesy


  • Unique Christmas Books for Kids

    When I was little, I remember several years in which my parents read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever out loud to us. There's a tape recording of the year that my brothers and I got to take turns reading chapters. A great memory! Now that I have my own children, I'm enjoying the search for additional Christmas reading options.

    This week we found a new one, albeit accidentally since it's still August! Uncles and Antlers, by Lisa Wheeler, appears to be a cute story about a little girl's many uncles. Each one is unique, with characteristics that remind me of my three brothers. And as my son noted, "this is a counting book, Mom!" Then at the end, there's suddenly a Christmasy twist to the story. (Maybe someone savvier than me would have figured this out a little sooner. Or maybe I should have had a little more coffee that morning!) Recommended for ages 3-6.

    Another favorite of ours is The Twelve Days of Christmas in Minnesota. Written by Constance Van Hoven, it presents lots of interesting information about our state in a clever, kid-friendly format. This would make a great gift for any Minnesota child, or from Minnesota grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles, etc. In a quick Amazon search, it seems that the series includes titles for most states, including Florida, Wisconsin, and Texas, each written by a local author. For ages 5 and up.

    Mary's Christmas Story offers a unique retelling of the original Christmas story. It was recommended to me by a friend who read one of the four sections to her children during each week of Advent. The warm, vibrant illustrations and relatable details bring the story close to home. As the mother of sons, wrapped up in the emotion of the season, I admit to shedding a few tears while reading this one. By Walter Wangerin, Jr. Ages 4-8.

    What were your favorite Christmas books when you were growing up, or which top your list for your own children?

  • Top 5 Gift Ideas Under $20 for EVERYONE!

    Times are rough, but that should stop you from buying your friends, family and loved ones great Christmas gifts. suggests these gifts under $20!

    1. Personalized Christmas Stockings. We all know just how great it feels to get personalized Christmas stockings that we can decorate with all around the house, so why not give it to your friends and help them start a tradition?

    We recommend four designs:
    Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Sequined Santa
    Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Toboggan Trio Stocking
    Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Winter Snooze
    Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Peace Santa

    2. Spiderpodium. Almost every one has an iPod, iPhone, e-book reader and a host of different gadgets, but there is no single way to hold or store them on their desk, in their car, or everywhere else. The Spiderpodium can take care of that.

    3. Plain Classic Brass Christmas Stocking Holder. Christmas stocking holders make it easy and convenient for people to hang their Christmas stockings. This plain classic brass Christmas stocking holder is an elegant and simple piece of art that will delight your recipients!

    4. Solar Powered Mosaic Jar Globe with Jewel Tones. A great way to light up the evenings outdoors, this is one cool and elegant lamp that is both earth-friendly and captivating to the eyes!

    5. Gift Certificates. As much as you would want to choose the perfect gift for everybody, there will always be those people who you can't seem to find a gift for. Don't sweat it! You can always give them a gift certificate that would allow them to choose their gifts for themselves. have just recently added gift certificates to its roster of Christmas products, so that you could truly give them the best gift they want!

  • The 4 Best Christmas Gifts for Your Kids

    Forget the latest versions of the PSP, Nintendo Wii, the latest smart phones, or the fancy toys.  While your kids might drool and salivate over these gadgets, they might be out of the question especially on a tight budget.  But it does not really mean that you should be disappointing your kids this Christmas.  It is after all a season for kids! have come up with a list of inexpensive gift ideas for your kids!  Here they are:

    1. Something to keep their memories in.  Your children would have a lot of memories to create.  And it is a sad testament that most kids today only have their MySpace or Facebook accounts to keep their pictures and memories in.  You could give them a photo album to keep their pictures in.  Or if you want to get them started on being creative, how about spending for a blank scrapbook and some scrapbooking materials?

    2. Books.  They say that books are dying with this generation.  Indeed, it is easy to just go to Google and search for a topic and get your fill from the search results.  But you only have to hold a book in your hand and read it to know that it is just not the same.  Instilling love for the written word in your kids should not stop at letting them use Google for everything, get them to read physical books, the classics, even Twilight or Harry Potter.  It's not as cool as just downloading it from to their e-book readers, but it will surely be worth it.

    3. Personalized Christmas gifts.  Be it a Christmas ornament with their pictures on it, or a mug with their names, customized Christmas gifts are a surefire way to let them know how special they are.  What is more, you could let them be creative with these Christmas stocking kits that they could design and assemble on their own.

    4. Family time.  Take your kids out to the park, or have a picnic outdoors.  Throw some snowballs or watch a movie together.  Make sure that you announce this special day when both Mommy and Daddy are at home to spend time with them.  No work, no phone calls, no distractions.  Just a special day to be together.

    The best gift you could give your kids this Christmas is you time and love.  And with these four tips, you can easily join in the fun.  How about helping them gluing the appliqués on your Christmas kits?  Or reading to them a chapter of the book you bought?  Or designing a page of their scrapbooks as you look at the photos together?  These gift ideas are a priceless way to spend more time with your kids and bond with them.  Surely,  a brand new Nintendo Wii couldn’t compare!

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