Tag Archives: gifts

Party Prep: Why this is going to be the best birthday ever!

13 Sep

My son turns 6 next week and I’ve planned three days of festivities to celebrate the milestone.  Per his request, we’re having a “home party” on Saturday for his best pals.  Sunday, we’ll have dinner and cake (plus presents, of course) at my parents’ house—a.k.a. Grandma and Granddaddy’s.  Monday, Chip’s dad, babysitter and I will bring cupcakes to his classroom.  And we’ll take him to dinner at the restaurant of his choosing.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the years pondering what makes a great party.  I’ve thrown fab fetes as well as gatherings that have fallen flat—and I usually post-mortem both to figure out why.  Here are a few of my personal thoughts and conclusions.  If you have a minute, please share yours!

  • Unexpected foods: I incorporate two or more unexpected menu items simply because one of my favorite things to do as a partygoer is to sample unusual foods.  I tried tapenade for the first time at a party several years ago and thought it was superb!  This year, I’ve taken that notion a step further by building Chip’s birthday party around the idea that his friends probably never eat sugary cereals.  So what are we serving?  Captain Crunch, Apple Jacks, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, etc. (along with healthier fare like fresh fruit and mini-quiches).  I know the kids will love the cereal sampling stations—but I also expect more than a few of their parents to indulge, too.
  • Unscheduled time: I once went to a kid’s party where every second was orchestrated.  The mom literally had a flow chart designating the attendees’ every move and seemed downright stressed when the kids fell behind!  I don’t think that works for children younger than age 10 (if, frankly, it works at all).  To that end, this Saturday we’ll have one activity for the kids plus the food.  After that, it’s just a big playdate where the kids can run around and do what they want.
  • Environmental studies: We spent the last few months cooped up because of the punishing heat so we’re partying on the patio come Saturday.  I think children and their folks enjoy outside time, particularly when the weather cooperates.  As my husband and I spruced up our backyard this spring and our hot-pink crepe myrtle is in full bloom, I’m looking forward to having a chance to enjoy the outdoors, too!
  • Gifts: I go back and forth on whether kids like seeing the birthday boy/girl open presents or not.  I often think it’s a waste of good party time for all concerned.  Every year I play this one by ear but invariably Chip tears into his booty while surrounded by his besties.  I’ve decided that’s fine as long as the kids know they don’t have to sit at his feet, oohing and aahing over his gifts.  If they want to watch, great.  If not, great, too.  The only thing I really care about is that I know who gave him what so I can properly thank each person.  I always appreciate the mom who volunteers to log the loot—a true gift to me!
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Doodlebug Craft & Vendor Fair

12 May

May 14-15, 2011
Saturday 9am – 4pm
Sunday 10am – 4pm
6765 Rendon Bloodworth, Fort Worth, TX 76140 – at the intersection of FM 1187 and Drury Cross Rd., between Mansfield & Burleson

Featured Vendors:
Homemade Gourmet
Written in Stone
Wine Bottle Lights
Kinsey Metal Art
Soaploafer
Tahamia Designs
Cowgirl Junkie & Co.
Scrappy Chic Boutique
Loving Prints
Rescue Woods
Thirty-One Gifts
K & S Boutique
Denim Vault
Got Bling
Scentsy
Tupperware
Celebrating Home
It Works Body Wraps
Sheets to Go

and adding vendors daily!!

Click here for the website.

Slow Down the Season…Please!

20 Dec

I’m having a near-panic attack this holiday season.  Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with shopping for the perfect gift.  (I’ve finished my shopping AND wrapping already, which is definitely a new record for me.  And it was no small feat – I have a LOT of people to buy for.)

My panic attack has to do with the fact that it feels like the season is slipping away too quickly, and I’m afraid I’m forgetting something.  I keep feeling like there’s more I should be feeling, more I should be squeezing out of this month.

Christmas is only days away, which has me worrying – what holiday-themed celebration have we missed?  What movies did we forget to watch?  What crafts did we neglect to do?  It’s almost too late!

Perhaps this is more of a general feeling I have about my life right now.  My kids, now 3 and 5, seem to be growing so fast I can’t hang onto anything.  Even my memories are hard to hang onto.  And today, my son is sporting his first loose tooth.  How did all of this happen before my very eyes?

Since my shopping obligations are complete, I plan to spend the rest of this week reveling in as much family time as I can get.  Let the housework go undone; let the laundry pile up.  I’m going to watch Christmas movies, drink hot chocolate, and lay by the fire with my kids and husband.

And maybe by New Year’s we’ll have our first visit from the Tooth Fairy!

Holiday Bribery – Roundtable Discussion

13 Dec

Even though we do the whole “Santa thing” in our house, I really don’t like bribing my kids with presents in order to ensure their good behavior.  (I’m not saying that I’ve NEVER bribed my kids – I wish!  I remember months of my daughter demanding – and receiving – a lollipop every time she pooped on the potty.  I don’t care, it worked.)

For some reason, I just don’t like the idea of saying, “Hey, you need to behave or Santa won’t bring you any presents.”  Something about that rubs me the wrong way.  You shouldn’t refrain from hitting your brother just because you want a new bike!  So I basically try…and try…and try…to encourage good behavior simply because it’s the right thing to do.

And now, as many of you know, the world has been introduced to the Elf on the Shelf –  Santa’s little minion who hides around your house, spies on your kids, and then flies back to the North Pole every night to give behavior reports.  Good old-fashioned creepy Christmas fun!

So the kids are supposed to behave because the elf is taking notes, Santa is making a list, and they hope to get presents on Christmas morning.  While this may influence kids’ behavior in December, what about the rest of the year?

How do you handle your “holiday bribery”?  Do you push the Santa idea to keep your kids in line?  We’d love to hear from you!

Here’s a Tip for the Holidays

7 Dec

My father-in-law famously hated tipping.  To anyone in earshot, he’d grouse about how he’d rather pay “twice as much” for a given meal or service than be forced/guilted into anteing up another 15 percent on top of the total.  Poor Charlie!  He never made the transition to 20 percent, what his son and I consider de rigeur in the 21st century.

Tipping becomes trickier during the holidays, when tips and gifts morph into one pricey package!  Just the other day, I sat down and added up the number of teachers, aides and assistants in our lives.  Between our two kids, it’s a whopping 34 women and two fellas!  Which doesn’t count hairdressers, the cleaning lady, or the sweet old gal who has delivered our mail for 11 years!

So who to tip?  Who should receive a gift rather than greenbacks?  I found the following guide in Real Simple, one of my favorite magazines:

Give a Tip to Your…

Landscaper/gardener: $20 to $50. If he or she comes frequently, give up to a week’s pay.

Pool cleaners: For a regular crew, the price of one cleaning, to divide among themselves.  If a different employee shows up each visit, holiday tipping is unnecessary.

Newspaper carrier: $10 to $30, or the equivalent of one month of the subscription price.  Sometimes you can include a tip when you pay your bill.

Handyman: $15 to $40, depending on how much work you’ve had him do.

Buy a Gift for Your…

Teacher/tutor: Don’t spend more than $25.  Assuming the school allows gifts, give something such as a bookstore or restaurant gift certificate, a picture frame, a coffee shop gift card, or a homemade gift from your child, accompanied by a hand-written thank-you note.  Gifts aren’t as common at middle schools and high schools where each child has five or more teachers.

Letter carrier/package courier: While nothing is expected, if you have a friendly relationship with the person, then a small gift or gift card in the $20 range is a nice gesture.  Anything more valuable than that is prohibited by the United States Postal Service.  FedEx allows tips or a gift worth up to $75, while UPS does not have an official policy.

Nanny: A tip equal to one or two week’s pay, plus a personal gift from your child(ren), such as a framed crayon or marker portrait showing the child’s appreciation.  Avoid kid-oriented gifts; an attractive handbag might score major points.

Day-Care Staff: $25 to $70 each for those who have direct contact with your child(ren), plus a small, personal gift from your offspring.  If only one person takes care of your kids, shoot for the higher end of that range.  A gift certificate is fine, but take the time to include a hand-written card.

Give a Tip or a Gift to Your….

Babysitter: Cash or a gift equal to one or two night’s pay.  A personal gift from your child(ren) is always appreciated as well.

Cleaning lady: Up to one week’s pay and/or a gift.

Hairstylist/manicurist/barber: The cost of one visit, or a gift of equivalent worth.  If you deal with more than one person at a given establishment, give cash so they can split it among themselves.

Personal trainer/yoga instructor/massage therapist: Up to one session’s fee or a modest gift, depending on how often you see him/her and whether he/she comes to your home.  Avoid giving chocolate, cookies, or other unhealthy foods.

For more, visit www.realsimple.com.

Chick-Fil-A Coupon Calendars to Benefit La Leche League of Arlington

23 Nov

For the second consecutive year, La Leche League of Arlington is selling Chick-fil-a Coupon Calendars for 2011!

These make wonderful Christmas presents for teachers, co-workers, bosses, friends, and other moms.  They are the perfect size for stuffing into stockings.  Each month has a detachable coupon good for something yummy!

Please e-mail Lori at lori@morethanmothers.com for more information.  Pricing is as follows: 1 for $8, 2 for $15, or 3 for $20.

Black Friday Ads

18 Nov

Are you one of the masses that storms out to dirt-cheap sales in the wee hours of Black Friday morning?  I know how you are – you guys are crafty, wily, and don’t take prisoners.  You map out your plan of attack well in advance to take advantage of that $20 television or those $2 pajamas.  You even – gasp – get all your holiday shopping done before December!

OK, so I am definitely not one of those people, but in the spirit of giving, here’s a list of links for several Black Friday sales ads, courtesy of www.blackfriday.info, to help you devise your shopping strategy.  Happy hunting!

Walmart:

http://www.blackfriday.info/sales/walmart-black-friday-ad.html

Office Depot:

http://www.blackfriday.info/sales/officedepot-black-friday-ad.html

Best Buy:

http://www.blackfriday.info/sales/best-buy-black-friday-ad.html

Zales:

http://www.blackfriday.info/sales/zales-black-friday-ad.html

Toys R Us:

http://www.blackfriday.info/sales/toysrus-black-friday-ad.html

JCPenney:

http://www.blackfriday.info/sales/jcpenney-black-friday-ad.html

Michael’s:

http://www.blackfriday.info/sales/michaels-black-friday-ad.html

Target:

http://www.blackfriday.info/sales/target-black-friday-ad.html

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