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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Family Christmas Gift Ideas

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We all know Christmas can get expensive, so one thing I like to do is buy a couples gift or a family gift. Couples gifts usually aren’t too hard, but family gifts can be difficult, especially if the children have a wide age range.

I began buying family gifts for my sister’s family about three years ago, right around the time baby number four arrived. Because of the age range of the children, 12 down to 3, and mixture of boys and girls, the decision of what to buy hasn’t been very easy. When I would go online to look for ideas and search family gifts, I would get ideas that would cost hundreds of dollars, or the ideas that were more for couples and not families. Because of this, I have decided to share a few of my the ideas I have had in time for you to stock up on Black Friday.

The first year, I bought my sister’s family the same snow cone machine we had been using for several years. This machine has held up for many years in our house, including the making of more than 20 snow cones at a time at birthday and holiday parties. This snow cone machine is the same style that I bought, but a different brand.

Last year, I bought them an ice cream maker upon request. This is always a great gift for a family!

I already have chosen the item for this year, but I can’t reveal it here! So, you decide what you think they will get this year, and hopefully you will find some ideas of your own.

Game On
If it is a family that you visit a lot, you can scope out their collection of board games and make a board game basket of ones that they don’t have. Black Friday sales are a great place to pick up some of the classics such as Candy Land, UNO, Chutes and Ladders, etc. If it is a family that travels, buy the travel versions to keep the kids entertained.

Organize It
My one child has a way of taking over my car, so a family with multiple children can always use some organizing, and with Thirty-One gifts, you can personalize it for even more fun. The Large Utility Tote is perfect for organizing jackets, blankets, toys, etc. in the trunk or back of a van or SUV. The Uptown Jewelry Bag has many uses, including organizing small items for the car like crayons, cards, Band-Aids, tissues, ear buds and more. The best part, it has a clasp that allows you to hook it around the back of a headrest for easy access.

Healthy Frozen Fun
The Zoku Quick Pop Maker from Williams-Sonoma is a good gift for families, producing sweet frozen treats in less than 15 minutes. You can make popsicles all on your own, including healthy ones with fresh fruit, yogurt, or mix up the colors with some different flavors of Kool-Aid. The great thing about this, you can purchase accessories for it for years to come, my personal favorite is the chocolate station. Plus, it comes it a variety of fun colors!

Food Fun
I probably would have been more willing to cook as a child if there had been such fun cooking utensils as there are today. You can find fun aprons, colorful measuring cups, fun-shaped spatulas, and kids cook books in a variety of places and prices. I have recently seen them at TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Home Goods, kitchen stores, even craft stores like Jo-Anns and Hobby Lobby. Collect these items throughout the year when you find them and grab a cute basket to put them all in. If the family really enjoys this, maybe the next year can be a gift certificate for cooking classes.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Is there one activity center, zoo, or museum that this family enjoys visiting? If so, buy them a season pass to enjoy the gift all year round. If they always get their own season passes, why not purchase some gift certificates for eateries or buy them tickets for an upcoming special event or exhibit.

New to Town
If the family has recently moved to a new city, purchase them tickets to a local fun place, or a city tour. I am a big fan of experiential gifts because these help to build family memories that last forever.

The Family that Plays Together
Encourage families to spend time together, away from electronics, by purchasing lessons or passes to a local sports facility or gym. The entire family can enjoy tennis or golf lessons, something that will keep them playing together for years to come. If this is out of your price range, why not try for a set of yard games. These sets are available in a variety of games and prices at Wal-Mart, Target and other sports stores.

Movie Night
We have family movie night a couple of times each month, as do many families. Why not purchase some movies for the family, then include their favorite movie theater candies with some microwave popcorn. Or, purchase a fun popcorn popper and a mixture of colorful popcorn and a vareity of flavorful seasonings.

These are just a few ideas for family gifts. So, Katherine, if you are reading this, you can put them in order of what year you would like to receive them!

Happy shopping and have a safe Thanksgiving Day!


Crockpot Parmesan Ranch Mushrooms – Pinterest Review

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I am always trying recipes and projects that I find on Pinterest. Sometimes they turn out successfully, sometimes there are items/ingredients missing, sometimes I don’t think there is any way that the person could physically manage to make these items. One of my friends suggested that I start blogging about my experiences, so here is my first Pinterest pin review.

I just tried this recipe for Crockpot Parmesan Ranch Mushrooms for a work luncheon today. They were tasty but even better, they were super easy to make! I bought four containers of whole snow cap mushrooms, cut them in half, threw in two sticks of butter, one packet of powder ranch dressing, and about a half a cup of Parmesan cheese all into the Crockpot, threw on the lid and turned it on. I started with it on high for about an hour, then turned it to low for about 2 more hours.

I had about a cup of leftover mushrooms so I brought them home and used them as the base for a chicken pasta dish. I simply added some additional frozen veggies to the mushrooms in a pan, sauteed them with some already cooked chicken breast, then poured it over some bowtie pasta for a simple and tasty dinner.

This was a definite success and one that I will keep on my Pinterest board to make in the future!

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