Meaningful Gifts That Give Back

We can’t think of a better way to approach the holidays and the end of 2016 than in a socially conscious way.  Many of us have a new perspective this holiday season and hope to make our gifting more meaningful than ever.  We have suggestions for ways to touch the hearts of friends and loved ones with charitable gifts that give back and carry lasting impact.

Instead of material gifts that may soon be forgotten – invest in making a difference by supporting the volunteer rescue workers in Syria rushing to the scenes of bombings to pull people out from under the rubble and carry them to safety by donating in a loved one’s name to The White Helmets. Contribute to the International Rescue Committee to help save refugee families in crisis. Give the gift of helping struggling families lift themselves out of hunger and poverty – and send a girl to school through Heifer International.  Help CARE continue to save lives with food and emergency assistance, education and economic opportunity in places that need it most – and your funds will be MATCHED if you donate by December 31st – doubling your gifted impact.

If you’re looking to wrap up a gift invested in making a difference – check out these great options that give back below:

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Help light the path out of poverty for adolescent mothers in Chicago by purchasing a handcrafted candle from Bright Endeavors – a paid job training program providing critical guidance to help young moms secure quality employment.

Assist in ensuring a safe pregnancy and safe birth to every mother, everywhere, by making a donation to Every Mother Counts in a loved one’s name – or purchase a gift from their shop.  100% of net proceeds from this lovely Flat Clutch will be donated to Every Mother Counts.

Purchase an adorable ethically produced hand-knit doll crafted by Peruvian artisans from Cuddle + Kind, and ten meals will be provided to food insecure children, through the World Food Program USA.

Give the gift of cozy socks from Bombas knowing that for every pair purchased a pair will be donated to a homeless person in need. Best of all, the donated socks are engineered to meet the specific needs of people who don’t have the luxury of a clean pair of socks every day.

Consider gifting from Mercado Global and helping indigenous Guatemalan women to overcome poverty and become agents of change in their communities. Check out this beautiful Amanecer Pillow that draws inspiration from traditional handwoven techniques that originate from Comalapa, an artisan village in the Central Highlands of Guatemala.

Gift a Mini Kane STATE Bag and let your teeny-recipient know that their gift also provides a hand-delivered STATE bag loaded with essential tools for success to a child in need in the U.S.

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Adorable Hand Painted Christmas Ornaments Tutorial

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There’s something really wonderful about having homemade holiday touches in the home and gifting handmade gifts. Jen from Craftic walks us through a lovely painted Christmas ornament tutorial inspired by clear glass ornaments discovered at a local craft store. With paint, imagination, and fun finishing touches – these adorable DIY Christmas ornaments are the perfect holiday craft to make right now.

Materials

  • Acrylic paints
  • Glass or plastic clear ornaments
  • Paint brush
  • Sequins, buttons, googly eyes, or any finishes for decorating.
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Directions

  1. Carefully take off the ornament tops.
  2. Get your acrylic paints ready. Consider mixing a custom palette to match holiday cards or other decorations in your home.
  3. Paint the interior of the ornament by squeezing a bit of paint into the ornament from the bottle. Depending on your paint’s viscosity, swirl it around to get a good coating (if it’s more fluid) or coat it with a paint brush (if it’s thicker).
  4. Place the ornaments upright on a paper plate and allow the excess paint to drip down overnight.  Tip: don’t use a napkin or you’ll end up with little bits of the towel dried to the edges!
  5. Check on your ornaments after drying overnight.  If there are splotches where the paint dried, touch up the spots with a bit of paint on a brush.
  6. Decorate the outside of the ornament however you wish!  Using craft glue, attach sequins, buttons, and beads to create patterns, googly eyes to make faces, or anything else. Leave to dry for at least two hours.
  7. After drying, secure the ornament tops back on and enjoy your newly created works of art!

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Check out more of Jen’s crafty goodness over on Craftic!

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Holiday Gift Guide 2016 + AMEX Giveaway!

Looking for the perfect holiday gift? From gifts for kids (both big and little) to presents for her and him too – our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide has gift suggestions for everyone on your list.  Check out our pre-tested favorites for Christmas and Hanukkah gifting and scroll down to enter to win an American Express gift card giveaway to purchase something special from our curated lists. Happy gifting!

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  • For Kids

WowWee CHiP: Want to wow your kid this holiday?  This intelligent, and trainable robotic toy dog responds via touch, the included SmartBand, and the free ChiP app. Just like a real dog, he’ll follow his owner around and even play fetch and automatically return to his SmartBed when he needs to recharge.

Yvolution Y Glider Deluxe Scooter: This fun three-wheeled scooter is perfect for beginners. Suitable for ages three and up – little kids will love zipping around on this fun scooter – and the “learn to steer” design will help younger children master riding in no time.

IncrediBuilds Deluxe Books and Model Sets: Fuel their creativity with a 3D wood model set and thrilling hardcover books.  Kids will love the building and reading combo, available in favorite themes like Harry Potter, Star Wars, Fantastic Beasts and more

BOSEbuild Speaker Cube: Big Kids now have the chance to build their own blue tooth speaker with fun, vibrant lights, and customization covers. They’ll learn all about speaker components (like, coil, magnet, and paper) while making the adults in the family jealous with Bose-quality sound.

Razor RipStik Electric Caster Board: Thrill-seeking big kids (ages 9 and up) will enjoy cruising around on Razor’s RipStik Electric featuring powerful 100-watt technology and a kick start in-wheel hub driven motor that pushes speeds up to 10 mph.  Just remember to include a helmet!

LeapFrog Count Along Cash Register: Packed with tons of learning fun for little kids – this cute singing cash register has plenty of numbers, counting and role play skills in store.

WowWee COJI: This incredible, intuitive coding robot toy helps to develop STEM skills through emoji language (that kids love!).  Kids will have fun playing games that reinforce memory and problem-solving skills while having their own cool robotic toy.

Lakeshore Slot & Build Texture Shapes: You can never go wrong with a gift from Lakeshore, and these flexible, imagination-igniting building shapes are ideal for little hands.  Tots will have endless fun while exploring and creating with unique textured shapes.

Yo-kai Model Zero: Yo-kai fans will have fun projecting short character animations onto surfaces while rocking this fun, bright watch that plays tribes songs, summoning sounds, and Yo-kai names.

Kamik Boots: Give them the gift of staying warm and dry for snow play and sledding!  Kamik always has high quality, stylish, durable options to keep kids feet toasty while having fun.

Skylanders Imaginators: This fun toy-to-life video game allows players to create their own characters, called Imaginators.  This gift is sure to be a hit for the gaming kid and is available for PlayStation 5, Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Xbox One.

Thames & Kosmos Crystal Growing: Gift the gift of growing dozens of dazzling crystals while learning all about their structure and geometry. This great kit allows kids to mold plaster shapes and use dyes to grow a rainbow of custom colors.

LeapFrog Lean & Groove Musical MatImpress the toddler in your life with this fun interactive musical mat that encourages movement and play – while reinforcing gross motor skills, music, rhythm, and numbers.

Lakeshore Young Scientist Chemistry Lab: Encourage your budding scientist with this incredible hands-on lab that allows children to brew up mind-blowing projects –  like glowing ice spheres, jelly worms and more. Kids will learn all about chemical reactions with over 20 chemistry tools and detailed instructions.

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  • For Her

Citizen L Circle Of Time: Give her the gift of time-keeping with this stunning, timeless watch powered by Ec0-Drive technology (light!) which never requires a battery change.

Adidas Superstar 80s Shoes: Nearly every outfit can be styled with Adidas Superstar sneakers, and these are elevated with a flashy, textured metal shell toe.

May Designs Custom Planner: Give her the gift of organization with a lovely paper planner that can be personalized in every way.

Luminara Flameless Candles: She’ll love having a bunch of real flame effect candles in her home without the hazard and hassle of having to light real candles. Luminara’s battery operated flameless candles will bring coziness, glamor, and comfort to any space.

Nerium AD Skincare: Nerium AD Age Defying Night and Day Creams are back on our list this year because they continue to provide visible results!

  • For Him

Wolverine Boots: For they guy who needs serious durability – Wolverine dura shocks provide serious comfort with every step to power through any job.

Hanes FreshIQ:  Tuck favorite everyday basics like socks, T-shirts, and underwear into his stocking with built-in advanced odor protection technology that attacks odor-causing bacteria in clothing  – to help him feel fresh all day.

Tifosi Optics Sunglasses: The sports enthusiast will love the functionality, comfort, and fit of Tifosi’s sleek and lightweight frame styles made from polycarbonate materials providing 100 percent UVA/UVB protection.

The Real Deal Brazil Gravata Tablet Case: He’ll appreciate the Eco-friendliness and cool look of this durable tablet case handmade in a remote small town in rural equatorial Brazil from recycled tarps.

WIN IT! Enter to win a $100 American Express Gift Card for your holiday shopping! Simple entry via the Rafflecopter below – U.S. only. Best of luck and Happy gifting! 

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Special thank you to Time To Play Magazine, The Toy Insider, and all of the companies partnering with Marino Bambinos. Some affiliate links are included.  

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A Gift for Him (and for You!)

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, my urge to break out the Christmas boxes and decorate with my family feels stronger than ever.  This time of year is so special – and I know that the kids will someday hold on tightly to the nostalgia and memories that colored their childhood holidays.  Along with the fun of visiting the tree farm, baking, volunteering and simply being together in our home, comes the excitement of gift giving.  The kids are super easy to shop for, but gifts for my husband require a bit more planning.  Now and then I’ve attempted to gift him something on the extravagant side, but I’ve learned from over a decade of marriage that what he wants most are essentials, like socks and T-shirts from Hanes.

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With a busy, active lifestyle, he’s constantly on the go.  From being in heavy-duty construction boots on the job to juggling multiple work environments as a builder (and a dad!) – his clothes are tossed into the wash as soon as he comes back home from the job-site. And this year Hanes has certainly elevated the gift giving potential with Hanes FreshIQ products for men.  They are a gift for him (and a gift for me!) – because innovative advanced odor protection technology makes his favorite brand so much better.

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On Christmas morning, he’ll still get the comfort and softness that he’s always known from Hanes – with odor control technology that physically inhibits bacteria growth and helps to reduce any unpleasant odors from a hard day of work (including feet in serious construction boots!).

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Whether the man in your life spends his days in a boardroom, playing field, or as a stay-at-home Dad, he’ll appreciate the fresh and confident feel of everyday essentials from Hanes FreshIQ – and so will you!

Win it!  Our friends at Hanes are giving away a $50 American Express gift card to one lucky winner to stock up on the new Hanes FreshIQ T-shirts, underwear, and socks.  Simply entry is via the below widget.  U.S. only and best of luck!
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Wishing you a beautiful Holiday!

This post is sponsored by Hanes. Opinions, as always, are my own

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A Holiday Tech Gift Mom Will Love

This post is sponsored by Intel. Product and compensation were provided.  Opinions, as always, are my own. 

Most mothers know what it’s like to have their belongings acquired by their children. Favorite pens disappear, heirlooms break, and one day your computer keyboard is found to be coated with an unknown sticky substance.  This holiday season, we’re all for gifting mom something that she really wants and something that she can rightfully claim as her own.  In my home, it’s due time to retire the antiquated desktop that takes forever to start up in the morning.  I continue to be amazed at the level of innovation in the popular 2-in-1 devices; specifically, the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 13.3″ 2-in-1 powered by Intel® Core i5™.

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At first glance, the modern, slim and sleek gun-metal gray design packs serious wow-factor right out of the packaging. I love the perfectly square corners and wide-angle screen – and after thoroughly testing it out, there are so many features to be excited about.

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For starters, it’s incredibly convenient to have a touch-screen tablet that doubles as a notebook – all in one device.  And the 360-degree hinge is perfect for mothers who wear many different hats.  With four different modes, I’m able to go from working at my desk in laptop mode, cooking with the family in tent mode, reading before bed in tablet mode, and enjoying movies in stand mode. And for the mom who frequently travels or is always on-the-go, the 13.3″ portable size fits nicely and comfortably into a bag, without the dreadful feeling of being weighed down.

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Mulitmedia on this 2-in-1 is super fun.  From watching 4K video on multiple screens – to editing photos and creating family videos – the intuitive system even provides automatic bursts of speed when you need it, with Intel® Turbo Boost (yes turbo boost!) Technology.  My whole family was super impressed with the speakers ability to blast enough rich audio to fill our living room – and I continue to note how fast the device functions – even with many different tabs open all at once.

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I surprisingly discovered one of my favorite features in a backlit keyboard.  As a work from home mother, I often plow through deadlines late at night or enjoy catching up on social media.  The functional design helps with accuracy in typing, especially during those particularly tired moments.

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Learn more about the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 13.3″ 2-in-1 powered by Intel® Core i5™  – and the great ways it will fit into any moms lifestyle.  She’ll be thrilled to receive one this holiday season – just please don’t ask her to share!

Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday.

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On Holiday Joy

Christmas Tree Shopping Kids

I had my heart set on our annual trip to the tree farm. Deep rooted in my own childhood, this holiday tradition of years past is one that we all look forward to.  This year, we were too late; the farms were already stripped of their Christmas trees available to cut down, and it seemed silly to drive so far for a pre-cut tree. My post-phone-call frustration had the potential to sour the day, but when I told the kids we were headed to Brooklyn instead,  they threw their joy around faster than my disappointment could surface. Kids are resilient.  They are natural joy spreaders, and their glimmering perspective is what holiday merriment is all about.

I’ve learned that holiday happiness is not determined by the flurry of activities and events that we do to keep the magic alive. It is built upon the pockets of meaningful time spent together.  And the letting go of an idealized vision of Christmas allowed me to see the everyday miracles around me.

Tree Shopping

Inside the little Brooklyn tree stand, the children weaved in and out of the Christmas trees, holding hands, begging to take home all the Charlie-Brownish trees because “what if no one wants them”?  The shape of that Sunday was slow and subtle, much like the rhythm of our holiday season this year.  We agreed on a tree, stopped for hot cocoa and enjoyed the glorious imperfections in decorating.

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We’ve had beautiful weekends doing no more than simply being together as a family.  It’s just what we need right now, and we’ve been taking advantage of being outdoors as much as possible in this unusually mild NYC December.  We’ve always believed in investing in solid winter gear to conquer the cold as it’s settling in.  The kids need warm coats and boots, as do the parents – to keep us all happy during the winter months.

Over the past few years, we’ve found a family favorite in UGG Australia.  We all crave the feeling of toasty toes cocooned in comfy sheepskin warmth. And I happen to find parenting MUCH easier when not having to deal with children’s socks.

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The new UGG Classic Slim collection fits my style perfectly. The boots are incredibly chic and versatile, with a moderate wedge and sleeker shape – without sacrificing the iconic comfort that UGG is famous for.

The boys went for a matchy-matchy father and son look from the Pendelton collection, with a Classic Mini from the men’s collection and the Kids’ Classic Short for little boys.  I wasn’t surprised when my daughter chose the Kids’ Classic Short Sparkle for girls.  They couldn’t be more perfect for an almost 8-year-old with her own unique fashion sense.

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We’ll be wearing our boots all season long – and if you’re pressed for a last-minute amazing gift – take advantage or their free 2-day shipping.

Cheers to merry making and comfort too.

Boots c/o Ugg Australia.  Opinions as always, are my own.

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