10 Yummy Christmas Treats

Here are 10 creative Christmas treat ideas perfect for holiday parties or just to enjoy yourself :)

Snowman Cookies

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Reindeer Noses

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Snowmen Faces

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Santa Hat Brownies

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Christmas Caramel Popcorn

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Lindt Truffle Reindeers

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North Pole Cupcakes

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Hot Cocoa Dippers

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Covered Cherries

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Peppermint Reindeer Food

Advent Day #10

You may have noticed that we skipped yesterday’s Advent Ornament…that’s because we didn’t get a chance to do it. We did yesterday’s craft today and will be skipping today’s craft to get back on track. Here is the ornament Jacob made today:

Every day I am amazed at how much Jacob is learning. When I got the glitter paint out he noticed one color we had the other day was missing. He then made sure to use a crayon to put all the facial features on Joseph (including ears) and even made a little mouth with the glitter glue. Now we have a set- Mary and Joseph.

iCaughtSanta Quick Giveaway {5 Winners!}

Imagine the look of wonder and surprise when a child receives a photo of Santa caught in the act in his or her very own home. iCaughtSanta.com is a unique website that helps visitors create those memorable keepsake photos. In three simple steps anyone can upload a holiday photo, add Santa Claus and print it as proof… or share it via email, Facebook and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY:

5 readers will win a gift code to create their own iCaughtSanta photo

HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment telling me who you would give this photo to if you win.

EARN AN EXTRA ENTRY:

Optional: Share this giveaway on a social network

Giveaway ends December 19, 2011 at 11:59pm Central time. Winners will receive codes in time for Christmas.

(Disclosure: I received a code to use the product myself but all thoughts are my own.)

10 Christmas Crafts Kids Can Make

Kid made crafts make great gifts and decorations. Check out some of my favorites below and click on the pictures to be taken to the posts. {Looking for ornaments kids can make? Find that post here.}

Handprint Shape Angel

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Sugar Cone Trees

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Pine Tree

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Bottle cap magnets

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Paper Plate Wreath

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Water Cone Cup Craft

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Rudolph Gift Bag

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Handprint Tree

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Cotton Ball Santa

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Footprint Reindeer

10 Stocking Stuffer Ideas For Preschoolers

Stumped on what to put in your preschoolers stocking? Here are 10 ideas:

1) Candy (the obvious one)

2) Crafty Items (collage materials, crayons, stickers)

3) Toiletries (bath bubbles, toothbrush with their favorite character)

4) Undergarments (character underwear, socks)

5) Dress up jewelry

6) Cars and trains

7) Snacks (fruit snacks, chocolate chip granola bars)

8) Books

9) DVD collection of their favorite TV show

10) Small games (card games, handheld games)

What are you putting in your children’s stockings? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Our Christmas Season “To-Do” List

The Christmas season is here and I want to make sure that my family has a wonderful season of fun and making memories. The past years I have had many things I wanted to do but just didn’t get around to so this year I have made our family a Christmas “to-do” list. I figure if it’s written down there is more of a chance we will do the things instead of just thinking about them.

Here are the things I’d like to do this Christmas season:

*Throw a birthday party for Jesus

*Go to the zoo to see their lights display

*Visit Santa

*Make our Advent ornaments daily

*Put together a Gingerbread Train

*Give the boys new Christmas pajamas

*Drive around town looking at Christmas lights

*Donate money to Salvation Army bell ringers

*Bake (and decorate) cookies together

*Make some Christmas crafts to hang on the walls

*Wrap gifts for others

*As a family choose a gift from World Vision’s gift catalog to give

*Make Christmas cards for our loved ones

*Send a letter to Santa

*Mail a Christmas card to a soldier

*Get together with family to celebrate the Holidays

*Paint wooden ornaments for our tree

*Get family Christmas pictures taken.

*Have a Christmas movie marathon in our pjs

*Read a Christmas themed book every night before bed

*Make “reindeer food”

*Leave cookies and milk out for Santa

*Get a family dough ornament made

*Go downtown Chicago to look at decorated window displays

*Go to the light show at our local outdoor mall

*Play in the snow and then come inside to drink hot chocolate

*Donate food to a local food pantry

*Go sledding

*Make paper chain garland for the tree

*Make a snowman

*Move the Elf On A Shelf to a new place everyday and find him as a family

*Eat chocolate from our Advent calendars

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What’s on your family’s Christmas to-do list?

Advent Day #2

"And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

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Today’s craft idea came from Truth In The Tinsel: An Advent Experience For Little Hands.

“Baby Jesus have a crown on his head.” -Jacob, age 3

Christmas Sensory Table

Christmas Sensory Table

Items Included:

-Garland (cut into 6 inch pieces)

-Jingle Bells

-Holly Berries

-Mini Ornaments

-Mini Present

-Small stockings

-Bows

-Red cups

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Did you make a Christmas themed sensory table or bin for your children?

I’d love to see what you included if you did! :)

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Linked up at: The Sunday Showcase, Sharing Time, Weekend Wrap Up Party, and Link & Learn

Advent Day #1

Today we started our Truth In The Tinsel Advent book (find out about how you can get a copy here that you can view on your computer). The ornament turned out really cute so I wanted to share it:

We talked about how Jesus was the light in the world.

At the end I asked Jacob: “Who did God send to be the light in the world?”

Jacob’s answer:

“The little elf.”

Apparently introducing the little elf before baby Jesus this Christmas season was a mistake.

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Linked up at:

Made By Little Hands Monday

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Tips to Teach Children & Teens the True Spirit of the Holidays‏

Tips courtesy of World Vision:

There is not a better time of the year than the winter holiday season to involve children and teenagers in charitable giving and teach them why the old adage, “It is better to give than to receive,” is true.  World Vision offers five great ways for parents to lead by example and teach their children the true spirit of the holidays:

–    Consider do-it-yourself gifts, like no-sew fleece blankets that you can make with your children. Donate those blankets to a local homeless shelter.

–    Cherish the stories of your family. Have your children talk to their grandparents and write down the stories of their past. Create a book to share with the entire family or record it online.

–    As a family, select a charitable organization you’d like to support. Use online tools like Charity Navigator to find an organization that you trust. Give your children a budget and encourage them to decide how your family will donate to that organization this holiday. For example, flipping through the World Vision Gift Catalog will give children an idea of the difference they can make in other people’s lives.

–    Work with your children to create a coupon book for your neighbors that might need an extra hand this year.  Coupons could include shoveling their sidewalk, watching their children or providing a meal.

–    Bake cookies or sweets with your children and deliver them to your local nursing home or school-in-need. Get started with this list of holiday recipes.

In addition to teaching children how to give during the holidays, it is equally as important but possibly even more challenging, to show teenagers the true spirit of the holidays. World Vision Teen Engagement Expert, Michele Tvedt has several tips for parents including:

–    Start with conversation. Watch the nightly news together, and take time to discuss stories that touch on people struggling with poverty, unemployment or other tragedies. Let your teen lead the discussion and listen for them to express interest or passion in a particular social issue.

–    Begin to give teens a voice in family giving. Let your teen know you would like to give a charitable gift as a family to mark the holiday season, but that you’d love to let them be the final decision maker.

–    Take advantage of volunteering requirements that your teen may have to fulfill at school. Offer to help your teen find an organization that fits their interest. Keep in mind that teenagers are eager for authentic, powerful experiences. They will respond best to opportunities that allow them to experience poverty firsthand.

“The holiday season can be a stressful time of year. There are gifts to purchase and wrap, cookies to bake, and family and friends to visit, but when we pause to help our neighbors in need, we all experience the holidays in a more meaningful way,” said Traci Coker, charitable giving expert and national director of World Vision’s Gift Catalog.

For each item in World Vision’s Gift Catalog, the giver makes the purchase in the name of a friend, family member or business associate. World Vision then sends special cards to those individuals, describing the gifts and their impact. Last year alone, World Vision’s Gift Catalog raised $32 million and provided assistance to more than 800,000 people worldwide. The Gift Catalog launched in 1996, and while a goat ($75) is still World Vision’s number one seller, there are many affordable items for $35 or less.

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For more information on World Vision’s gift catalog you can check out my post (and be sure to enter the giveaway, too!)

(Disclosure: Post from WorldVision. I was not compensated for sharing this.)

Deck The Halls Hop {American Express Gift Card Giveaway}

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Deck the halls with boughs of holly,

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

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Since that song was in my head I thought I’d get it stuck in yours ;)

Today starts the “Deck The Halls” Giveaway hop hosted by Yes, I Have A Coupon. This hop features Christmas themed giveaways. I’m giving away a $25 American Express Gift Card in hopes that you will use it to shop at a local business for Christmas decor to “deck your halls”. You don’t have to use it for that, of course, but that’s my tie in for this hop.

GIVEAWAY:

A $25 American Express Gift Card

HOW TO ENTER:

Subscribe to this blog via RSS or Email.

(Look in the upper right hand sidebar to do so)

Then leave a comment saying how you subscribe.

ADDITIONAL ENTRY:

Share on a social network then leave a comment with the link.

Giveaway ends December 3, 2011 at 11:59pm Central Time. US Only.

(Disclosure: Opinions are my own. I received the card as a Klout “perk” from American Express.)

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MORE OF MY GIVEAWAYS CAN BE FOUND HERE.

Want to enter other Christmas themed giveaways?



Truth In The Tinsel: An Advent Experience For Little Hands {E-Book}

There are lots of Advent calendars and activities I’ve stumbled upon online but nothing else has been comparable to Truth In The Tinsel: An Advent Experience For Little Hands e-book. First of all, it’s made with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. The e-book was written by a mom who used to be a Children’s Pastor so she’s great at putting Bible stories into terms that young children can understand. Amanda realizes we are all busy and gives us optional schedules to follow if we don’t have time to do an activity every day.

Each day consists of 5 parts:

1) The Clue- A picture or word that the children find to give them a hint about the day’s topic. Amanda includes two different types of clues for download. Pictures can be put in an advent calendar or word clues that can be taped into a chain.

2) The Scripture- Amanda gives verses to read. She suggests using an actual Bible as opposed to an electronic version to get the kids familiar with the actual Bible (a very good idea!)

3) The Ornament- After listening to the Scripture children make a related ornament. I like that she includes templates for those (like me) who can’t draw. Most of these ornaments use supplies that can be found around the home but she also includes a supply list so you can purchase any items you need.

4) The Talk- Amanda gives ideas of what you can talk about and questions you can ask while you make the ornament to get them talking about what they learned.

5) Extras- Amanda includes extra ideas throughout the experience to take the lesson farther. It might be a song to download that goes along with the Bible verse, a DVD to watch, or a fun activity to do with the family.

The boys and I will be going through this e-book throughout December. Won’t you join us? You can purchase the e-book for $2.99 TODAY ONLY as a special Black Friday Deal. After today it is $4.99 but totally worth every penny! Make sure to check out the Facebook group, too.

(Disclosure: I received a copy of this e-book to review but all thoughts are my own.)

FREE Family Advent E-Book

Women of Faith is offering a free download of A Family Advent book now through December 31st. This e-book is 106 pages long and I took a glance inside it and am excited to read through it.

They are also offering other freebies, sales, contests, and more in their Countdown To Christmas. Each day is a new surprise! You can find their Countdown to Christmas (which starts today) here.

Enjoy!

World Vision Gift Catalog {Thai Bracelet Giveaway}

One of my favorite Christmas songs is Give This Christmas Away by Matthew West and Amy Grant. The song talks about giving Christmas away- “it’s feeding the hungry”, “telling the Orphan they aren’t alone anymore”, and giving “someone hope beyond their wildest dreams”.

One organization that does this on a daily basis is World Vision. I’m so excited to share that they have created a gift catalog to help make it easier for people to “give this Christmas away”. The catalog offers over 250 gifts, the most affordable ones starting at just $16. You can give self-sustainable gifts to those in other countries and also to people right here where we live. Some of the gifts you can purchase include clean water, goats, food, and school supplies. You can visit “The True Spirit of Christmas Tour” Facebook page and follow the World Vision staff as they travel across the world this December to see the impact that goats, sheep and other gifts have on families and children..

Another option is to purchase a “two for one” gift from the catalog. The beauty of these items is the two-for-one benefit they provide:  1) a meaningful and affordable gift for a loved one; 2) proceeds that make a difference in the lives of children and families living in poverty in the U.S. and around the world. With a financial contribution, the gift giver selects one of 36 items that can be given to someone on a holiday gift list and at the same time help a person in need.

One of the gifts in the “two for one” gift catalog is a beautiful hand crafted Thai bracelet. With a donation of $40 you receive a beautiful bracelet to give to someone and you have helped prevent sexual exploitation.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a black hand-crafted Thai Bracelet

HOW TO ENTER:

(Do any or all of the following, leave a comment for each you do)

1) Tell me what gift you would give from the World Vision gift catalog

2) Follow @WorldVision on Twitter

3) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

4) Share this giveaway on a social network

5) Tweet: “Win a hand crafted Thai bracelet from @aliciamarie112 at www.makingtimeformommy.com ”

6) Subscribe to this blog via email or RSS (look in upper right corner)

7) Blog about this giveaway

8) Enter another one of my giveaways and let me know which one you entered

Giveaway ends December 20, 2011 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I received a bracelet from the gift catalog but all thoughts are my own.)

Under The Tree Giveaway Event {VeggieTales Giveaway}

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Welcome to the Under the Tree Giveaway Event hosted by Life With Two Boys and Mommy’s Reviews and Giveaways. This is a child-themed event and the perfect opportunity for you to enter to win some gifts to put under your tree this Christmas. Be sure to hop around to all of the participating blogs before 11:59 pm on November 14th to see the awesome prizes they have to offer.

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I am so excited about my prize in this giveaway hop! One lucky reader will win a copy of VeggieTales: The Little Drummer Boy DVD and O Holy Night: Journey of a Little Drummer Boy CD.

VeggieTales DVD:

In this Veggie-version of a holiday classic, Junior Asparagus stars as The Little Drummer Boy, a lonely child who finds the true meaning of Christmas when he stumbles upon the birth of the baby Jesus.  A story of generosity, hope, and love, this timeless tale will warm the hearts of children everywhere!

VeggieTales movies are always fun to watch and full of color and songs…this one is no exception. They also teach morals and have good lessons in them and I especially like the lesson this movie teaches. Jacob is three and for the first time has been talking about Christmas and what he wants to get. I am working at helping him understand that the Holiday isn’t just about what you can get but that it’s about giving and Jesus. I think that children learn through many different senses so watching a movie about the meaning of Christmas along with me talking about it will help him understand.

VeggieTales CD:

Features never-before released on CD songs from Amy Grant & Matthew West, Steven Curtis Chapman, and BeBe & CeCe Winans!

I have a confession to make…we have been listening to this Christmas CD since before Halloween! I love Christmas music and the best part about this CD is that it has songs on there for adults mixed in with the VeggieTales songs. It also includes one of my favorite Christmas songs called “Give This Christmas Away”. The children also like it. We spend a lot of time in the car, especially on our busiest day where between therapies and preschool, Lucas (my youngest) spends the good part of four hours sitting in his carseat. Most of the time he sits fine but when it gets towards the end of that time period he is done sitting and starts fussing but when I turn the VeggieTales CD on he stops. I think Larry and Tom’s voices calm him!

GIVEAWAY

VeggieTales: The Little Drummer Boy DVD

and

O Holy Night: Journey of a Little Drummer Boy CD

HOW TO ENTER

(Do any or all of the following, leave a comment for each)

1. Subscribe to this blog via RSS or email (look in top right sidebar)

2. Tell me what your child or grandchild wants for Christmas

3. Follow me on Twitter

4. Follow @VeggieTales on Twitter

5. Share this giveaway on a social media network

6. Enter another one of my giveaways and let me know which you entered

7. Tweet “Enter to win a @VeggieTales DVD and CD from @aliciamarie112 at www.makingtimeformommy.com

Giveaway ends November 14, 2011 at 11:59 EST. US Only.

(Disclosure: I received copies of the DVD and CD as a VeggieTales Blogger but all opinions are my own.)

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ENTER MORE GIVEAWAYS:



10 Holiday Planning Tips

The Holidays are just around the corner so I wanted to share some ways that you can start planning now for a less stressful Christmas season. Here are my top 10 tips:

1) Start now! Once the Holiday season gets going you are going to have tons of events to go to and things to do.

2) Look through your Holiday items and take stock of what you have. I have found in years past that I have bought items I already had because I thought I ran out the year previously or needed more. I think I have enough gift wrap for the next 3 years now!

3) Consider making Christmas gifts this year. Everyone loves handmade gifts and it saves you money! Look through magazines or search Pinterest for great ideas and buy the supplies you will need to make them.

4) If you will be making Christmas dinner or having family over start planning your meals and send a “save the date” email to family so they can put it on their calendars now.

5) Plan and schedule family Holiday pictures. Figure out what your family will be wearing and what you will need to purchase. Does anyone need haircuts before the appointment?

6) Prepare to send Holiday Christmas cards. Do you have everyone’s address that you need? You can send out store bought ones or create something special by going online to a place like Storkie.com and personalizing cards.

7) Create a budget. I know how easy it is to head out shopping on Black Friday and spend way more than you planned on so I suggest making a budget for your Holiday shopping before you go out to the stores.

8) Think about traditions. Pull out a piece of paper and a pen or your ipad and make a list of all the traditions you enjoyed as a child, have enjoyed with your family in the past, or want to do with your family this year. Add any to your calendar that need to be scheduled ahead of time. Keep the list with you to refer to during the Holiday season to make sure that you don’t forget any of the important traditions you want to continue or start.

9) Along with all of the the things you feel you have to do, make sure that you plan in some time to relax with your family.

10) Start early! Yes, I already said this one but when this Christmas is over start preparing for next year. Buy toys, gift wrap, and decor on sale so you don’t have to pay full price for anything next season.

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I wrote this blog post while participating in the Storkie holiday blogging program. I received compensation for my participation. All opinions are 100% mine.

Tiny Prints Christmas Cards

I know! I know! It’s not even Halloween yet and I am talking about Christmas but this year I am going to give myself at least 2 whole months to order, address, and send out my cards. Hopefully this way I’ll get them sent out before the start of the new year!

Tiny Prints has a great selection of Holiday cards (436 to be exact!) and I’m trying to figure out which one to order. I’ve narrowed it down to the following cards:

I like this one. At the bottom I’d put a picture of each boy and then one of them together. I like that they have the ages of the children listed.

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I like that this one can be hung on a tree like an ornament.

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I like that this card reminds us of our blessings in life :)

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The picture in the middle flips…how fun!

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Which one would you choose??

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Want to order some for yourself but not sure which one you like best?

Enjoy Five Holiday Card Samples Absolutely Free

Code: 5HOLIDAY | Offer expires 10/5/11 at 11:59 pm (PT)

Find out more here.

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(Disclosure: I am receiving Christmas cards from Tiny Prints in exchange for posting about their Holiday cards but all thoughts are my own.)

Top Ten Tuesday: Christmas Morning

Sinisa and I

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Jacob and Lucas in their Toy Story chairs

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Lucas

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Jacob and Lucas looking at their presents

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Lucas relaxing

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Lucas and Daddy

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Jacob peeking at the gift

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My mom and I

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Jacob reading his new book

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Who needs new toys?

Mommy and Me Monday: Christmas Morning

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious? Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Our family in our Christmas pajamas

More Christmas pictures to come Tuesday! :)

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Wordless Wednesday: Visit with Santa

I have linked this post to: Wordless Wednesday Home

5 Minutes for Mom ~ Go Graham Go! ~ Jolly Mom

Mom of 3 Girls ~MomStart ~ Two of a Kind…

Momma Findings ~ Mom Knows It All

Frosted Fingers ~ A Daily Dose of Toni

The Divine Miss Mommy

Grammy Mouse Tails

Christmas Shopping at Family Dollar

Recently I was invited to a Family Dollar Holiday event. We entered a hotel suite with lots of beautiful decorations.

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We were then told that all the decorations there had been bought at Family Dollar.

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After listening to people from the corporate office speak we all went to a local Family Dollar and did some shopping. I could not believe all of the great Christmas toys that Family Dollar had at such great prices. Here are some of the toys they carry:

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I had never considered doing my Holiday shopping at a “dollar” store. I always just assumed the only things I would find would be cheap little nick-nacks for a dollar. I was pleasantly surprised to see good quality, brand name items, and toys my children would actually want to play with.

Want to check out Family Dollar for yourself? Make sure to grab this coupon for 10% off your toy purchase of $100 or more!

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Here’s a video from the event.

For more event coverage check out these links:

Toni @ The Shopping Adventures of Cheapo McFrugalPants

Kim @ Hormone-Colored Days

Paula @ Frosted Fingers

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(Disclosure: I was invited to this event and received car pickup, appetizers, and a small shopping spree for my time. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

 

Wordless Wednesday: Advent Calendar

Jacob helping Lucas open his advent calendar :)

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I have linked this post to: Wordless Wednesday Home

5 Minutes for Mom ~ Go Graham Go! ~ Jolly Mom

Mom of 3 Girls ~MomStart ~ Two of a Kind…

Momma Findings ~ Mom Knows It All

Frosted Fingers ~ A Daily Dose of Toni

The Divine Miss Mommy

Grammy Mouse Tails