November has been non-stop. I feel like I have been treading water all month, and I'm finally just now starting to come up for air. Here's what I've been into this month!
Is it really the Christmas season if you haven't had your kids' photos taken with Santa? I like to think of photos with Santa as a way to kick off the Christmas season. This year, thanks to Dolphin Mall, we got our photos done really early!
Instead of going to see Santa and having to wait in a boring line while your kids ask, "Is it our turn to see Santa yet?" 75 times, head over to Santa's Flight Academy at Dolphin Mall and experience a fun, interactive setup. Kids get an official badge with their photo on it and get "fitted" for their virtual flight suit.
Caleb loved dancing in front of the "Flight Suit Visualizer," and we had a really great time watching him.
They also map out Santa's route and help collect cheer to power the sleigh. The sleigh is enormous and filled with all kinds of cool details.
And then they get to dance and play in the falling snow. Once they've done all of that, they get to see Santa and have their photo taken with him.
Santa's Flight Academy runs from noon through 10 pm daily until December 24th, on the Second Floor Ramblas, near the entrance of Cinebistro.
If you're looking for a fun way to kick off the Christmas season, look no further! Head over to Dolphin Mall and get your Santa photos done!
When it comes to buying kids presents, the easiest thing to do is run into a toy store or the toy section at Target and pick up whatever the hot toys are. But the truth is, while toys can entertain kids for a little while, they don't usually have longevity. And when kids are bombarded with toys all at once, they tend to play with them even less - at least, that's what I have found to be the case in our house. So I decided I would put together a post with some suggestions for you to get the kiddos in your life - suggestions that aren't toys - I even managed to score some discount codes for you!
But before we get to the list, a couple of other tips:
Also, in our house this year, we are asking family to follow this:
"One thing they want,
One thing they need,
One to wear,
And one to read."
When in doubt, stick to one of those categories - I promise you won't go wrong!
The Christmas Star from Afar
Kind of a take on a certain mischievous elf, The Christmas Star from Afar helps us to keep the focus on Christ during Christmas. You set up the wooden nativity set, and read the story. Each night, you hide the star, and in the morning, your children look for the star and put the wise men with the star. On Christmas morning, the star appears over baby Jesus, just as the star led the wise men to Jesus after his birth. I really love this idea and I'm definitely going to make this a tradition with my own children. But if you know that a family wants to keep the focus on Christ during Christmas, this is a great gift to give their children!
Black Friday Sale: 25% off with the code MERRY25 (11/23-11/26)
Use the code TOPKNOT for 10% off your set.
Book Subscription Box (Bookroo)
Bookroo is a monthly subscription for your kids that helps them fall in love with reading by combining the excitement of opening a gift with the discovery of a new, treasured book. Every month, kids get a package with new books that are individually wrapped. They have books for kids from ages 0-10 (board books ages 0-3, picture books ages 2-6, chapter books ages 7-10), and they have personal or gift subscriptions in varying lengths. Another thing that's great about this company is that it's run by three women who are sisters-in-law. I actually gift this for birthdays a lot - it's the gift that keeps on giving!
Black Friday Sale: 25% off with the code BF2018
For 15% off, use the code TOPKNOTHOLIDAY (Expires 12/31)
Lessons: Music, Swimming, Sports, Mommy & Me
Every parent wants to give their child lessons of some kind. For some kids it's swimming lessons, for others it's a sport, or even Mommy & Me Classes. But all of that can get really pricey. Why not give something that they will continue to use and cherish? Gift cards, or a certificate with a note are good ways to present this gift!
I know this is supposed to be a toy-free list, but anything that really gets kids to think scientifically and be interested in science, technology, engineering, or math is really great. STEAM is another option and incorporates art as well. If you feel like you MUST get them a toy, something that is educational and will get their brains working is always a great route to take. Caleb received these magnetic blocks last year and he really enjoys playing with them.
Subscription to a Learning App (ABC Mouse, ABCya.com, etc)
This is one of those where you have to check with parents and make sure that it would be an appropriate gift. Caleb very rarely gets to use a handheld device like a phone or an iPad, so this might not be a great fit for him, but once he is older, a subscription to a learning app would be an awesome gift.
Caleb is just getting to the age where his attention span allows him to sit down and play a board game with us. Board games like Connect Four, Perfection, and Hungry Hippos would all be great for kids his age! (Make sure you follow the age guides on the games.)
Dress Up Outfits
Over the years, Caleb has gotten a couple of dress up outfits - a doctor, a firefighter, a chef - and he uses them all regularly. There are definitely a couple more of these on his wish list this year!
Puzzles that help with letter, number, and shape recognition are always really helpful! The great thing about puzzles is that they are good for varying ages and they have everything from animals to a map of the United States. My favorites are from Melissa & Doug - they are durable and the pieces are sized appropriately for their ages.
One of my favorite things to give and get is anything with a personal touch. I really love Blop Shop's clear backpacks and travel cubes. You can get them personalized with the recipient's name and give them something that is uniquely theirs.
Tickets to a Local Attraction
Buy kids an experience and they will remember it forever. A day at the zoo or a local children's museum are really great options. Most of these places have gift options, or you could just buy passes. Bonus points if it's something you can take them to yourself and give mom & dad some time off!
Happy Shopping, friends!
The holidays always bring out the mega list-maker and crazy planner in me. Between buying gifts for everyone, the busiest time of year for me as a photographer, and typically planning vacations, birthdays, and hosting events, I’ve got lists coming out of my ears. It’s not wonder that I like to start checking things off as early as possible.
While most people don’t start thinking about Christmas photos until October or even November, the truth is that as a photographer, I typically start thinking about Christmas photos and cards well before the holiday season actually arrives.
I like to have my cards before Thanksgiving so I can send them out the following week. One great tip is that MANY cardmakers have sales going on before Thanksgiving. I don’t have to pay for faster shipping since I have time, and I can really take my time choosing my cards. This year, I’ve partnered with Minted to get the perfect Christmas cards for our family.
I’ve used Minted multiple times in the past, and I am always so happy with the quality of their cards. They have beautiful designs, ranging from minimalist to classic. You can check out some of this year’s trends in Christmas card designs here! I’m really digging the neutrals for this year, but I haven’t decided on my design just yet.
My favorite feature of theirs is that I can input all my contacts and they will address my envelopes for me! This is an enormous timesaver, and it’s probably the one part of this task that delays me immensely. But I really also love how easy their site is to use, and the fact that I can get a digital proof of my card before I order it helps me to not goof up my cards because I was trying to get them done quickly.
So if you're in need of checking something off your list, head to Minted to get your Christmas cards done. It will be one more thing off your list and one less thing to do once the season really starts to ramp up.
Here's the second look in my denim experiment. You can find the jeans and tee linked here. Since fall is in full swing everywhere but Miami, I'm going as fall as I can without sweating my butt off. A colorful plaid shirt in the thinnest flannel possible is a good way to bring in a classic fall look. The booties with a tiny heel are perfect for running errands, and the camel color is so classic that I can definitely see myself using these for years to come. And the tiny bag? Big enough to fit my phone, chapstick, my keys, my credit card, and a shopping list. The perfect bag for when my kids are not with me, ha! (Maybe for Thanksgiving errands or Black Friday shopping?)
The shirt, the shoes, and the bag are all from Gap. I've linked similar styles below. This is honestly a really comfy look and one that I can put on year after year and feel like I'm in the spirit of fall.
Photos by Sasha de Almagro
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About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.