Best Advent Calendars

Advent Calendars for the whole family

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Best Advent Calendars

Here is the list of our favorite 2020 Advent Calendars:

Classic Advent Calendars:

These are all candy and we love them!

Toy Filled Advent Calendars

What kid would say no to opening a new toy every day?  We break these down by theme to make it easier for you to find the best fit for your kids.

For the Artist:

For the Builder:

For Pretend Play:

For the Dino Lover:

For the Gamer:

For the Jewelry lover:

For the Reader:

For Bath time Fun:

For kids who love surprises:

For the Vehicle enthusiast:

Advent Calendars for Parents:

Why do the kids get to have all the fun?  Here are great ones for mom and dad!

 

DIY Advent Calendars:

Confession, this would not be the route I would take as it could be pretty time consuming to buy all the gifts, make sure they fit in the slots and get them in without the kids seeing but they are really pretty!

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Best Advent Calendars

Gifts for Pretend Play

Gifts for Pretend Play

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What could be better than encouraging a creative mind?  Especially these days it is so import and to encourage our young children in their pretend play.  There is a little too much reality going on…am I alone in that opinion?

Children are amazing at creating their own worlds and being able to discover and even sort through their emotions and feelings via pretend play.

 

Costumes

We love playing dress up in our house, whether it is my daughter pretending to be Minnie Mouse (Paid Link) or my son putting on a dinosaur mask (Paid Link)that really roars it brings their pretend world to life when they can look the part.  If we are playing dinosaurs, I sometimes create a cave with blankets on the couch or even let my little girl put on some of my old lip gloss and eye shadow to play princess.  These are precious moments to me and the stories that they make up are incredible.  It does not have to be Halloween to get all dressed up and have some fun!

 

Doctor Kit

I have found that children have a natural disinclination to go to the doctor.  With this virus being a huge topic of conversation for the last six plus months that disinclination has turned in to an actual fear for my kids.  For her birthday this year I got my daughter the fisher price doctor kit (Paid Link) picture above.  Her brother actually plays with it more than she does.  He loves taking his sister’s temperature and “listening” to my heart, but he loves even more to give pretend shots.  It seems this is where his fear of the doctor was really coming from.  Lots of people have been talking about a shot to prevent the virus and he knew he was going to have to get a flu shot and a finger stick the next time he had a physical.  Having the opportunity to pretend with this toy set gave him some ownership and control over the process helped him work through his fear.  I am not saying his annual physical was the best experience, but I am convinced that it could have been worse if we did not have this pretend play outlet.

 

Kitchen set

Cooking with the kids is fun and we bake a lot in my house, but the kids are very aware that the stove, and oven are off limits because they are hot.  Knowing this does not always mean they abide by those rules.  To give her an outlet to explore cooking on her own I bought my daughter a kitchen set.  She enjoys making pretend meals for her brother and I, I can not tell you how many “coffee’s” she has made me…I guess she knows the key to my heart. 😛  She feels like a big girl when she can push the buttons on the pretend microwave, open the pretend oven, and put away the leftovers in her fridge.  Don’t have enough room to add a large kitchen set to your home, consider a smaller kitchen accessories set. (Paid Link) that will not eat up as much space.  (Sorry for the bad pun!)

 

Figurines and Dolls

I grew up with older brothers and so have always been a bit of a tomboy.  As a child when my parents tried to give me Barbies (Paid Link)and baby dolls (Paid Link) I usually threw them in the closet and tried to steal my brothers GI Joes (Paid Link) and He-Man figurines. (Paid Link)  There are so many stories that you can create when you have a figurine in your hands, whether it is gender specific or not, kids use their imaginations to bring these characters to life!

However you choose to encourage your child in pretend play it will bring them a lot of joy to see you getting into their world with them.  If Mommy pretends she is a puppy or Dad is a baby, the kids will see it is okay to imagine and enjoy their pretend play.  Build delightful moment with your children by encouraging pretend play!

Pretend Play gifts to inspire their imagination


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Gifts for your Little Musician

kids musical instruments

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Growing up I loved everything about music, I used to beg my parents for a Karaoke machine so I could sing my favorite songs along to the music.  I am not even sure kids out there know what a karaoke machine is anymore…but I do know that there are still kids who love to sing, listen to, and play music.  No matter how they like to express themselves musically we have the gift that will be sure to bring a smile to their face!

Here is a list of our top Musical gifts for Kids.

Gifts for the Singer:

Lyrics book – find the lyrics to help them perfect their favorite Disney song.

Microphone – let them belt it out.

Subscription to Amazon Music, no matter what genre they are into, with 60 million to choose from, they will be able to find a song they love! (click on the banner below to sign up)

Gifts for the Percussionist:

We know Drums may not be high on the list for parents but learning to keep the beat and developing a sense of rhythm is important to growing minds, and you can support this development with more than just a set of snare drums and cymbals.

Tambourine – better than a drum, they can carry it so you can send them outside to play it!

Bongos – Okay these are drums but a little more sedate than the traditional set.

Gifts for learning chords:

Chords are the building blocks of music and learning them can be difficult but it can also open up a world of music where children will learn how to play the mainstays of their favorite songs.  Two instruments that are mostly chord based are the piano and the guitar.  These two instruments also help with fine motor skills as kids strengthen their hands as they practice.

Piano/Keyboard – we recommend starting with a keyboard, it takes up less space and there are some great features that will entertain kids as well as enhance their musical repertoire.

Guitar – Kids have small hands so we recommend a kid sized guitar, but be picky as you find the right one for your child.  I bought a very inexpensive guitar for my son one Christmas and we ended up not being able to keep it in tune  for even one song because it was so cheaply made…lesson learned!  Our recommendation below comes with a tuner which is also very good to have on hand!

Gifts for the beginner:

We all have to start somewhere, and I am sure a few of you out there are like me and started their musical journey at school on the Recorder learning hot-cross-buns!  Get them one to play at home..

Recorder – Careful this one can be a little shrill at first!

Harmonica – Throwback to the cowboy days.

Musical Set for Toddlers – get them started early with shakers, a triangle, xylophone and more!

Ukulele – before they learn the chords on the guitar get them comfortable holding a string instrument and picking out a tune.

Extra musical resources:

Support all of their musical endeavors with some education, here are our favorite books on how to read music, and getting started with their instruments.

As a whole I feel like the arts take a back seat to traditional curriculum these days, that is why I feel it is important for parents to take the lead role in supporting our kids and ensuring they have a well rounded and delightful education, which, in my opinion, includes music.

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gifts for your little musician

The Gift of Fall Accessories!

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As the days get cooler it is essential to start having the kids dress the part but we don’t have to bankrupt ourselves to do it!  A lot of times just adding the right accessories will keep them snugly and warm.

Here are our must haves for fall weather that add a little warmth without busting the budget!

Vest

There are those great Fall “in-between” days where the air is crisp in the morning and then by noon it is in the high 70’s.  No need to make them grab that bulky coat when slipping a vest on them will look adorable and let you feel secure that the kids are warm enough.  Plus there is the added benefit that they look like a little fashionista stepping off the pages of a magazine…there is just something about a vest!

Scarf/gaiter

Truth be told I have been looking forward to scarf weather, so I don’t need to remember where I left my mask!  While I love a scarf and my oldest is now good with wearing one, for the little ones scarfs can be a little nerve wracking.  This is because I always worry they will get snagged and ending up choking my little one or the scarf is a constant plaything that is so distracting it is better off on the floor of the car then around my kids neck!  So, for age 5 and up I recommend going for the scarf, if you think they will keep it on, below 5 I suggest a gaiter instead.  (a lot of people call these buffs but I was raised on gaiter so there you have it.)  I recommend turtle fur.  Their product is so soft and you can find it in a ton of different colors.  Pro tip: get 2, kids tend to chew on things that are right in front of their mouths so if you are outside for an extended period you may want to swap on a new one to avoid rash.  I do this with the kids masks too, my son has 3 in his backpack every day just in case.

Lightweight gloves

These come in handy these days, not just for warmth but when running into a store as well.  If the kids have to come with you, best to cover their hands.  My little girl’s hands are always cold so I tend to keep an extra set in my purse just to have with us if I feel she is getting chilly.

Thick socks/Tights

I can not think of anything snugglier than a thick pair of socks.  For my daughter I have a few pairs of tights and a few  thick knee highs, that or both super cute, and super functional.  They keep her legs warmer when I pull them up over her leggings and add an extra layer of protection when she is chasing her older brother around and inevitably takes a tumble…little sister problems!

Chunky Sweaters

There are some adorable sweaters out there for little ones and I guess my preppy side is coming out in this post with the Vest and the cable knit sweater recommendations but what can I say it works, and there are some really affordable brands to choose from.

Sun glasses

Even though it is fall the sun has no lost its intensity.  If you are getting the kids out to go on a walk or to a farm to go apple or pumpkin picking don’t forget eye protection!

Ear Bands

This may just be me, (I have big ears that stick out) but my ears get cold on a windy fall day.  My kids have my genes so they also have this affliction. I recommend ear bands.  Hats can wait until winter but we can usually get a little extra time outside if I have these with me!

NUMBER 1 ACCESSORY of the Fall is the ….. MASK!!
Buy Any Face Mask Set + Mask Straps, Get 10% OFF with code SMPBUY2SAVE10 at schoomaskpack.com! Available for Kids and Adults/Teens

We recently partnered with School Mask Pack and they have some really great deals on Kids masks and mask lanyards…like the gaiters they can’t loose the mask if it is attached to them!

For the house we recommend Fall Window Clings

The kids have a blast putting them on and they are an easy item to pitch at the end of the season!  I usually pick them up at my local stop and shop when I am grocery shopping but you can get them by clicking the image above too!

However you deck yourself out this fall from my family to yours, may this fall season come with many delightful moments, after this year we have earned it!

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Budget Friendly Fall Accessories for Kids

Gift of Cooperation – 10 fun cooperative games

10 Fun Cooperative Games

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Have you ever played a game with a kid between the ages of 2 and 7? If there was a chance they may not win, was it any fun? I know from a LOT of first hand experience that it can be brutal. The child in question gets more and more upset or worried that they are not going to win and eventually the game ends abruptly because they don’t want to play anymore.  It is a truth universally recognized that if you don’t finish a game no one wins, right?

I have 2 little monkeys who prove this rule on an almost daily basis. And now that they can play each other it has become few and far between that a board game actually ends with a winner. Usually it ends with one, or both, walking away. Although my youngest tends to make up rules and not count accurately so she always claims victory but…we will never know.

We discovered cooperative board games as a family from a wonderful SEIT teacher and friend who faces the challenges of high anxiety and attention disorders every day. She gave my son a gift one year for his birthday, it was the game Hoot Owl Hoot, and it was amazing. The point of the game is for EVERYONE to get to the nest before the sun rises. So you have to encourage each other, dare I say root for one another, to win the game. Talk about a novel concept!  I still thank her for this gift.

There are a few other great cooperative games we have found, even for younger kids like my daughter, who is almost three.  One that she loves is a game called First Orchard. The game usually takes more time to set up than it does to play, but the set up also helps with color recognition. (you have to match the colors of the fruits to the right trees, which could be a game in and of itself) Once it is set up you role a die with colors and a few icons on it to collect all the fruit before a raven makes it to the orchard. It’s very straightforward and even when the raven wins no one is super upset…or trying to take a swing at another player.

Here are our top 10 cooperative board game recommendations.

1. Hoot Owl Hoot

2. First Orchard

3. Dinosaur escape

4. Monkey Around

5. Count your Chickens

6. Feed the Woozle

7. Outfoxed

8. Mermaid Island

9. Race to the Treasure

10. Stone soup

I am not suggesting these as the only games to play, we have had a lot of fun and good learning with some of the jr. series; monopoly jr. and scrabble  jr are a lot of fun but I’ll do another post on those.  At the end of the day I just enjoy ending each game night with a cooperative game to conclude on a positive note.

Moral of the story: Family game night is a lot more delightful when we can all win.

I want to hear from you! My favorite board game as a kid was monopoly, I have great memories of epic games spanning long evenings. What was your favorite childhood board game?


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10 Fun Cooperative Games

Gifts for your little Artist!

Gift Ideas for your budding artist! - Keep It Delightful

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This week we want to feature one of our favorite affiliate partners, Crayola!  If you have a little artist in your house you probably already have some of their products in your home.  This American brand is a household name and a favorite among budding art enthusiasts.  Here are some of our must haves!

Kid's Wooden Art EaselEasel – give them the gift of a place to experiment with different mediums.  This easel has a chalk board, a white board, and pull-down easel paper.  We recommend getting a few easel paper refills as well so you don’t run out mid art project!

Washable Paint SetPaint and brushes – What kid doesn’t want to get a little messy and create their own Picasso?  Don’t forget to add a smock to your cart or let them wear clothes you don’t mind getting a little messy.  Creating can be dirty work.

3-in-1 Crayon Set, 72 CountCrayons – Your child may want to use blank paper to create their own masterpiece, or Crayola has free downloadable coloring pages!

64 ct Broad Line Markers, VarietyMarkers – Sometimes messy but always a hit Markers can “mark” the first step toward “big-kid” art.  In our house my youngest will always choose the markers since her big brother uses them for school.

Color Wonder Mess Free Coloring Pad & Markers, Paw PatrolColor wonder! – Save on the mess with Crayola’s Color wonder products.  These amazing markers and paints let your little ones watch the magic come to life as their choices of colors appear on the pages.

Giving kids the gift of creativity is like unlocking the door to any new world they want to create.  The possibilities they can come up with are infinite and the pride they will have at sharing their creations with you are sure to bring delight to you as well.

Color Escapes Adult Coloring Kit, KaleidoscopesP.S. Crayola has Adult coloring kits as well so when your kid is into their art you can take a break and get your calm on too!  My daughter loves it when I color with her, just not on her page. 😛

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Personalized gifts!

Logo with background

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Nothing says “I thought about you” like having a gift personalized!  Here are our top 10 kids gifts that can be personalized and are sure to delight.

Personalized Inspiration Art CaseCrayola art set, you can choose from different images and even add a photo of the child. He or she will be so proud to show off their new suitcase of art supplies!

Sports jersey – have a little sports fan? Get their name on the back of a jersey.

Customize a book – what is better that seeing themselves in the story!

Personalized Name Puzzle - Chloe - Early Learning Toys for Babies - Fat Brain ToysWooden Name puzzle  – great for letter recognition and spatial ability.

 

Superhero cape – Everyone should get to feel (and dress) like a superhero every once in a while.

Initial Necklace  – A beautiful way to make their day.

Spider-Man Beach Towel Personalized Official shopDisney

Towel – ensure it will always come home from camp.

Pillow – what could be better than snuggling up with something that is all yours?

Pencils – School is coming back, get them ready with school supplies they will want to show off to their friends!!

Piggy bank – Encourage them to save by giving them a place to keep it that is all their own.

Personalizing a gift is a wonderful way to show you care.  Don’t forget to check the recipients Keep It Delightful profile before you purchase to ensure you have the correct spelling.  Just one more way we are helping to ensure a great gifting experience.

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Gifts for your little builder!

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The summer days are getting hot and our little ones sometimes need a break from the heat.  Bring them inside with a project they can assemble.  Gifts like these encourage fine motor skills and creativity, plus they can use them again and again!

 

Wooden Blocks – Classics wooden blocks never go out of style!  Kids learn balance as well as creativity with this timeless gift.

 

Mega Bloks – These are perfect for the tiniest construction enthusiast.  These giant connecting blocks let tiny hands put together and pull apart to their hearts content.

 

Magna-tiles – Magnets have come a long way since we were kids!  These tiles are great for building and you can engage your child by seeing what colors you can create by holding one tile in front of another, add a light table and let them see their creations glow!

 

Kid K’nex – These snap together building sets come with eyes, feet and wings so kids can make their own troop of adorable new friends that they can play with for hours.

 

Legos – There are so many sets now that come with step by step instructions for how to have kids build masterpieces with so many themes to choose from.  Want to foster their creativity?  They still offer traditional (instruction free) Lego sets to let their imagination run wild.

 

Whatever gift you get your super builder they are sure to love creating and re-creating with you this summer.

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Gifts that keep on giving!

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Every family has their own birthday traditions and in many it is customary to give a gift.  In our house we follow this tradition and the kids, of course, love it.  Last year my son was given a subscription to a magazine for kids.  It has been a game changer for us.  Every month he has been thrilled to receive “another gift.”  He could not think of anything better than celebrating his birthday every month! 🙂

This year we are going to continue that subscription and get him a few other monthly surprises in the mail just to keep the celebration going and the gifts and excitement coming!

Science, STEM, and Craft sets keep the creativity and imagination engaged:

Little Passports

Green Kid Crafts 

Magazines encourage reading and curiosity about our world:

Highlights

Ranger Rick Jr.

National Geographic Kids

Need some online resources?  Here are a few deals on the top reading and education platforms:
Get 2 Months of ReadingIQ for $5!



Learn to read (Ages 2-13)

We hope these recommendations keep the celebration going, the curiosity piqued, and make every month a birthday blast!

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Kids Gifts that keep on giving