Tis the Season

christmas shoppingAs I pack the car with bottled water, snacks, comfy shoes and big environmental bags it would appear that I am planning for a natural disaster of some sort.  To your disappointment it’s nothing so extreme but it is something almost as adrenaline filled. Yes you guessed it, I am planning for a girls Christmas shopping weekend!

There are a group of us that go shopping every year and attempt to conquer our entire Christmas list in one weekend.  We plan every detail….from which route to take, a listing of each store we want to hit and even how long we can spend in each store.  We plan out where we will stop for lunch (we need to make sure we have fuel in us to keep the shopping marathon going for the two days) and we plan where and when we will stop for dinner.  Dinner is mostly to re-group over a glass of wine to make sure we didn’t miss anything and if we did, to add it to the agenda for the next day.

We even go as far as booking into a hotel for the night near the shopping mall so that we can shop until we literally “drop”. I attend this shopping extravaganza with girlfriends who all have children the same age as mine.  This is helpful because then we can bounce gift ideas off one another and ensure that we are getting our kids the latest and greatest toys.  We spend the most time in toy and kids apparel stores.  We all have 6 year old boys that are obsessed with trucks, cars, airplanes and figurines.  We ensure that we bring all of the holiday store coupons with to ensure we are getting the best bang for our buck!!!!

DC Friend BatcaveFor the most part I usually get the majority of my Christmas shopping done that weekend.  For any last minute gifts I get those online as I am sick of the malls by then.  Going to websites like http://www.mattel.ca/ is a good as they have their toys categorized by age group which makes shopping very convenient.   They have everything from Barbie to the latest Imaginext toys (which my son and his friends LOVE).  The DC Super Friends™ Batcave is an absolute favorite in the 4-8 year category!!!!

For next year all you parents out there that are wondering when and how to start your Christmas shopping, my advice to you is pack your car with all of the essential survival tools and a well planned out Christmas list.  Then hit the open road for a shopping extravaganza.  It will take a weekend to get everything done but then you can rest and enjoy the rest of the holidays with family and friends knowing that you have conquered the list that was haunting you.

Well, I’m off to start wrapping……

“Disclosure: I am part of the Mattel Holiday Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”


And Then There Were None….

It’s that time of year again. Kids are crafting their Christmas lists and parents are frantically looking online to see which store sells the items for the cheapest. I actually tried something new this year for my Christmas shopping. Usually I leisurely shop on and off throughout November and December, picking up items as I see them and wrapping them as I go. This system has generally worked well for me until some girlfriends of mine invited me on a weekend Christmas Shopping extravaganza a couple of weeks ago.

I had no idea what to expect but when I heard it was a weekend away sans kids….I was in!!!! What I didn’t realize was what a serious weekend this was to everyone invited. Each of the 8 ladies had big plans to conquer their ENTIRE Christmas list over one weekend. I am not talking about just their immediate family (kids, hubby, maybe a few things for themselves), I am talking about conquering presents for great Aunt Betty and second Cousin Rob. These girls were on a mission.

It all started during a planning meeting that we had where we all had to lay out the stores that we wanted to visit (Toys R Us and The American Girl Store were the two top stores for me). Then the ring leader of the group mapped out each store and how long we would have to spend in each store. She was so organized with all aspects of the trip down to emailing out coupons for each store and along with all of the hours of operation for each location.

We left our house at 9am on Friday and didn’t arrive back at the hotel until 10pm that night. We were exhausted but I have to say that I had completely finished my Christmas shopping for both my 5 year old and my 8 year old….along with my husband….all in ONE DAY!

After much deliberation (over wine and appies) that night we decided what stores we were going to hit the following day. What was neat was that I was with the moms of my 5 year old’s best friends. So, we coordinated the gifts we bought them so that no one would feel left out and that they all kind of got the same thing. It was a brilliant plan if I do say so myself!

As I rolled into my driveway the following night at 9pm I was absolutely spent (both physically….and well, I spent every penny in my wallet as well). HOWEVER, I did completely finish my Christmas list. It’s very liberating to not have to battle the mall traffic this holiday season as I am completely done! I can sit with my feet up and sip on my eggnog without a care in the world.

My one piece of advice to you parents out there shopping up a storm. Don’t forget to check out the store’s website before you visit. Stores generally have some coupons online that you can leverage to get a discount. For instance, check out the Celebrate and Save coupons for Fisher Price toys. But, hurry, you can use the coupons until December 31st but you HAVE TO PRINT THEM OUT by November 30th.

On our trip there were some ladies who were buying presents for their little nieces and nephews and didn’t have a clue where to start. So, if you are one of those people, check out the Fisher Price Joy of Learning Playtime Guide for relevant toy suggestions for all ages.

I wish you all a joyous holiday season and I wish you the best of luck with your shopping excursions! 

Disclosure: I am a Fisher-Price Mom and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Time to Celebrate and Save

Hello fellow shopaholic Moms….can you believe that it’s getting to be that time of the year again? It seems like we just finished getting the kids back to school and didn’t we just have Halloween? Well fear not ladies as I have a timely and fantastic deal for you. It’s the “celebrate and save” promotion on at FisherPrice.ca. They have savings on all of their hottest toys and baby gear. Like $10 off their Little People, Disney and Imaginext toy lines.

The favorite in my household is the Fisher Price Jake’s Musical Pirate Ship Bucky. We received it about 6 months ago and my 5 year old still loves playing with it daily. Not only does he get hours of enjoyment from this great interactive toy with all its sounds and features but he also has all of his neighborhood friends come by the house to play with it too. What 3 – 6 year old little boy doesn’t love playing pirates! Arghhh Matey. What I really like the most about the pirate ship is the creativity it inspires. When my little guy puts the ship in front of his batman cave and has a super hero vs. pirates standoff it’s a 5 year old dream come true. I can see his face light up as he puts them to work in an imaginary scenario. Apparently in little boy land, Jake the Pirate beats the Joker and wins a pet lion, who just happens to look like our housecat Zaboo.

The holiday season is right around the corner…gasp….ok actually you do have lots of time, it’s 50 days away…..but, who’s counting.  I like to get out there and beat the holiday traffic early so I can spend some quality time with an Eggnog Latte…seriously, have you tried them?! Heavenly. Remember that it’s not only the line ups at the mall you need to get ahead of but if you are planning to order any of your gifts online, which I’m a really big fan of, you have to beat the post office and factor in the holiday rush to make sure you get it on time.

Don’t forget to check out the fisherpice.ca web site with your kids, It’s fun and that way Santa will have a clear idea of what the most popular items might be! Remember to “celebrate and save” between now and November 30th and happy shopping.

Disclosure: I am a Fisher-Price Play Ambassador and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

How to Survive the Holiday Season as a Rookie Mom

The first year of being a new mom is a magical time. Combine this with the joy of the holidays and you really have a once in a lifetime experience, but while the anticipation of fun and family is top of mind, it is also normal to feel a bit overwhelmed. How can you possibly venture out into the crowded mallscape to begin the ritual of yuletide-store-hopping and eggnog-latte-sipping when you can barely tackle combing your hair and brushing your teeth, let alone the weekly grocery shopping?! Can you picture yourself going toe-to-toe to secure that one remaining parking spot with your baby-on-board sticker? How will Christmas Day pan out when you’re on a 3-hourly breastfeeding schedule?

Here’s the good news: you can do it all and still have the holiday of your dreams – it just needs a little extra forward planning. Here are some tips for you rookie moms out there to make your holiday season not only a great one, but also a manageable one.

First, let’s get the big item out of the way: shopping!  Normally women, as stereotypical as it sounds, love to shop! When you have a newborn or small kids however shopping can be a stressful event. To make this a breeze and even give you time for that eggnog-latte you must pre plan and be organized. Devise a list of everything you want to get. Don’t try to conquer the world with your list – people are going to be very appreciative to get anything from a new, sleep deprived mom so just keep to the essentials. More important than the items themselves, you need to pre-determine what store you want to get the items at, write the names and locations down and even plan a route around the mall if you think it is needed. Next, plan a shopping day when either you can get a babysitter for a couple of hours or pick a time when your little one is going to be least disruptive. Stick to your plan….don’t deviate to window shopping or adhoc browsing….there is no time for that. If this approach still seems overwhelming, take it to the next level and ask a family member or close friend to do your shopping for you. If your list is complete and the stores where the items are located are listed, you will be surprised at the willingness to help. Your sleep deprived smile will be reward enough to motivate them and if you throw in a special little treat to say thanks once the holidays are over you will be golden. Or try online shopping. An amazing variety of gifts can be ordered online.

One of the other big scary items for new moms during the holidays is the thought of cooking the big festive dinner. I have a simple and easy answer: let someone else do it this year! It’s only for one year and you can take back custody of the roasting pan and turkey baster next year. Trying to plan, shop for and cook a big holiday dinner will be more stress than it’s worth when you have to factor in breastfeeding, diaper changing, and a nap schedule. It’s time to ask a family member or friend to take on that job this year. If you are in a situation where you have to host the dinner how about making it a ….gasp…. pot luck!  Delegate a dish to everyone coming, involve them in the process and take the stress off yourself as host considerably.

Another potential new mom holiday season concern is tackling the endless array of parties. Whether it is what to wear to your hubby’s work holiday bash, or how to squeeze into something half decent for New Year’s Eve when you’re still carrying a few extra pregnancy pounds, there are some simple strategies to help. Instead of shopping and stressing about a new wardrobe, go with an existing outfit that you already have in your closet and buy some pretty and festive accessories to go with it (a shawl, sparkly jewelry or a killer pair of new heels). If you just can’t find anything that fits, then call on your friends and family and borrow something this year. Take advantage of your network and you will triple your wardrobe choices.

Finally, what about some festive fun for you? If you enjoy the occasional glass of wine or spirits don’t deprive yourself. What better time to have the first post baby drink than at New Year? Don’t resign yourself to being the designated driver…AGAIN!  Pump enough milk to get your baby through the evening and maybe into the morning and then when you get home from your night out, remember to pump and dump (dispose of the milk) to get rid of all traces of alcohol from your milk supply. 

Enjoy this magical time of year, relax, take the less stressful road and have a wonderful and fun filled holiday season.