Family Gift Guide: 8 Great Gifts To Bring Your Family Closer Together

As you finish up your holiday shopping, consider giving a gift that the family can enjoy.  Any gift that gives you the opportunity to connect with your loved ones in a meaningful way and create lasting memories is priceless.

responsibility

1. Kids Responsibility Board  $48

This is a great way to practice responsibility and money management.  This inventive responsibility station provides a practical way to establish positive life habits in your children.

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2. Mommy and Me Apron Set $49

If you spend a lot of time cooking with your little girl like my daughter and I do, these adorable mother and daughter apron sets are sure to inspire your next culinary creation.

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3. Headbanz Game $12.99

My daughter got this game as a birthday gift and it has become a family game night favorite.  It’s a fun, fast-paced, and simple question game that everyone aged 6 and up can enjoy.

you got your driver's license kit

4. You Got Your Driver’s License Kit $25

Show support for the new driver in your family!  This kit includes a tire gauge, an emergency flashlight, a cloth cell phone pouch to prevent texting while driving, and a colorful fuzzy dice keychain.  Use the time in the car to really talk to your kid about what’s going on in their lives, their friends and their fears.

book

5. Publish a Book

Put your child’s imagination on paper!  The next time your child starts to tell you an amazing story, write it down.  Have them draw pictures to illustrate the story.  Choose an online publishing site like lulu.com to print the book.  Then invite your friends and family over for a book signing party.  You could also sell the books and donate the money to a charity of your child’s choice.

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6. Start a Journal

It’s never too late or to early to start a journal for your child to capture all the priceless moments you experience as a parent.  I started journaling to my daughter when I was pregnant as a way to document the experience and never stopped.  I write about her development as a person, our ups and downs as a family and her personal milestones.  I just hope she can read my handwriting!

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7. Awkward Family Photos Game $24.99

Based on the ultra-popular website AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com, this board game features hilarious photos of other families sure to bring you closer to your own.  Learn more about the people closest to you as they interpret the awkward moments of others!

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 8. Create Your Family Tree

What better way to bond as a family than by learning more about your ancestry! Involve the whole family in this project by assigning each family member a relative a to interview (give younger children questions to guide them).  Once you have gathered your family history and lots of pictures, go to familyecho.com to create a free family tree online.  Be sure to update your tree as you continue your research and discover more about your history and heritage.   This family project is sure to be both a revealing and rewarding experience.

Happy Holidays!

 

Tips on How to Blend Family Holiday Traditions

menorah and xmas tree

Growing up Baptist in Newark, NJ, I didn’t know much about Judaism.  But after 16 years as a part of my husband’s family (he’s Jewish and African-American), I’ve learned that cheese kugel tastes very much like baked mac and cheese, how to sit shiva and that my mother-in-law is the queen of kvetching (love you, mean it:)).

With the number of interracial marriages at an all time high, diverse families are faced with deciding how to define family tradition, customs and holiday celebrations.  While weaving family traditions together can be challenging, it can also be enriching and rewarding.  Learning about other cultural traditions can open up a world of new experiences.

Below, I’ve listed  a few ideas on how you can blend holiday traditions:

Decide which holidays are most important to each of you

Have an open conversation about which holidays and traditions you want to embrace and plan to pass down to your children.  It will eliminate assumptions about where and how you spend your holidays.  My husband and I started dating around the holidays, so we established this early on.  Luckily, our traditions didn’t conflict.  But in the case that they do, be prepared to compromise.

Incorporate the meaning of the holiday into the celebration

It’s funny how many times we celebrate holidays without discussing their true meaning.  Take time to explain the significance of the holiday to your spouse or partner.  This will help them understand the heritage, history and why it is important to you.

Create your own traditions

One of the best things about being a couple is creating new traditions and memories together.   After a couple of years of trying to visit family in two states on Thanksgiving day, we decided to start hosting the holiday at our home.  It became the one time of year that our entire family got together.  Whatever you decide, let your relationship and things that you enjoy doing together inspire you to start your own traditions.

In the end, any holiday that brings your family and friends together is worth celebrating.

Happy Holidays!

 

Girlfriend Gift Guide: 10 Fab Gifts For Your Best Friend

I’ve been told I’m hard to shop for because I seem to have everything–which of course is totally NOT true!  So I’ve compiled a list of ten simple but fab gifts that I would be happy to receive and I’m sure any of your girlfriends would too.

pop phone

1. Rebecca Minkoff Pop Phone for iPhone $48

Classic meets current with this oh so cute handheld receiver for your iPhone.  Comes in several different styles and colors.

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2. Kate Spade New York iPhone 4 Case $40.00

I love this iPhone case because it makes me think of candy.  Pair it with your bestie’s favorite sweet treat for a gift that she is sure to love!

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3. Kim Seybert Best in Show Cocktail Napkin $47.00

Colorful pups are illustrated on these beautiful linen napkins.  A must have for the dog lover in your life.

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4. “Mine” Luggage Tag & Passport Set $70.00

For the friend that stays on the go, these sturdy leather accessories will make sure she and her luggage get there in style.

oxo salad chopper

5. OXO Salad Chopper with Bowl $24.99

Save time by slicing and dicing the ingredients for a salad in this salad chopper and bowl.  The chopper has double stainless steel blades to efficiently slice greens, veggies and more!

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6. Vogue Covers Coffee Table Book $91.00

Your fashionista friend will go gaga over this coffee table book featuring nearly a century’s worth of covers from the holy grail of fashion.  Both illustrated and photographic, this stunning book celebrates the long, rich history of still cutting-edge Vogue magazine.

kate spade taxi gloves

7. Kate Spade New York Taxi Mittens $68.00

Best friend in a big city?  These super cute Taxi mittens may be just what she needs to hail a cab in cold.

mini emergency kit

8. Ms. & Mrs. ‘Good Luck’ Mini Emergency Kit $15

This is a MUST have item for every woman!  This cute compact case has everything, I mean EVERYTHING you need to take care of any possible emergency including a mending kit, earring backs, double-sided tape, hair spray and even a stain-removing towelette.  It’s all neatly stored in a cute patent case small enough to fit in your purse!

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9. MAC Holiday Collection: Primped Out Lip Look Bag in Luxurious Pink $39.50

For your friend that likes to stand out in a crowd, this hot lip color  from MAC’s holiday collection is sure to garner some attention!  This style-packed, leopard print M∙A∙C Holiday bag includes Lipstick in Lickable, Cremesheen Glass in Call Me Gorgeous and Lip Pencil in Great Catch.

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10. Time

Spending quality time with your friends is priceless.  Sign up to take a fun class together like belly dancing, pottery or wine tasting.  Arrange to spend some girl time together to go catch a movie, have dinner or enjoy a spa day.  If your friends live out of town, plan a girls getaway for some much needed relaxation on a beach or wild weekend in Vegas.  Your weekend, your choice:)

Happy Holidays!!

 

3 Things We Can Learn From Nucky Thompson and Board Walk Empire

boarwalk empire

The other night I was replaying the epic season finale of HBO’s Board Walk Empire in my head and I realized I was reminded of a few life lessons along the way.

1. Gyp Rosetti: Don’t be afraid to take risks

New York Gangster Gyp Rosetti blew through Atlantic City like hurricane Sandy, causing equivalent devastation to everyone in his path.  His ambition, fearless attitude and laser focus on taking everything from Nucky Thompson enabled him to obtain quite a bit of power albeit short-lived.  Even when Gyp realizes his reign of terror is over, rather than quitting, he is able to look ahead to his next opportunity stating, “I came here with nothing. How do you lose what you never had? Start over. It’s what this country’s all about, right?”

Taking risks means pushing yourself to do things that make you uncomfortable.  With every risk brings opportunity for success and the possibility of failure.  But the real failure is in letting your fears stop you from attempting to accomplish your goal.  And if things don’t turn out the way you expected, at least you can take comfort in knowing that there is no limit to the number of times you can try.  (Unless your goal is to see how many flavors of ice cream you can sample at Cold Stone Creamery.  That limit is 5—trust me on this.)

2. Chalky White: Sometimes you have to lose it all to realize what’s really important.

After a season of plotting to take what’s his, Nucky’s enemies have his back up against the wall.  Left with only the clothes on his back and his loyal assistant Eddie wounded, he has no choice but to turn to his “colored” ally Chalky White for help.  During this ordeal, Nucky realizes that he has been so self-absorbed, he doesn’t even know if Eddie has any family or Chalky’s phone number.  After Chalky gives Nucky a (presumably long) ride in the back of a hot, dirty truck, they arrive at a warehouse.   The men share some day old bread when Chalky says, “All it takes, ain’t it?  Go without, see what you really need.”  Later when his brother Eli returns with an army of support, Nucky realizes that although he has lost everything that he thought was important, his true friends never left.

We all go through times in life. Rather than focus on what you have lost, concentrate on what you have left.  When you do, you realize that what you have “lost” are unimportant material things that can be replaced.  It might be hard to believe, but things could always be worse.  Through it all, your family and true friends will be there to support you and that is irreplaceable.

3. Nucky Thompson:  It’s amazing what we can achieve when we work together.

When Nucky’s army arrives from Chicago (led by Al Capone) there is immediate friction with Chalky’s crew.  Racial tension runs high as threats swing back and forth and eventually lead to several physical altercations.  Nucky sternly reminds them to focus on the task at hand and they quickly put differences aside.  Together, they set out on a mission to set a trap for Masseria’s crew.  After the deed is successfully done, Chalky and Al exchange a pleasant nod of respect before Al heads back to Chicago.

From school projects to work collaborations to team sports, working in a group is almost unavoidable.  At some point, you will be forced to work with others to achieve a common goal.   And sometimes—okay most times, there will be at least one person that somehow knows how to push every button you have.  Rather than let the group dynamic get to you, try to focus on similarities rather than differences. You don’t have to like someone to work with them.  Just remember that you are all working toward achieving a common goal.  Mutual respect and hard work will inevitably lead to success.

Who knew gangsters were so profound?