Giving Tuesday: Charitable Gift Guide

‘Tis the season for gift giving, but as we’re shopping for gifts for our loved ones, it’s important to remember those in need. In honor of Giving Back Tuesday, I’ve assembled a list of gifts that give back. I’ve known about most of this organizations, but had a chance to meet various representatives at my friends Kid Vuz recent holiday event.

 

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Heart for Haiti

Heart for Haiti Fair Trade Collection can be found at Macy’s. Made by Haitian artisans, all of these handmade items give back to help provide economic sustainability.

Heart of Haiti Jonas Sunflower Metal Lantern

Handmade by artisans, this lantern is made of recycled steel. Artisans receive half the wholesale price for each item sold.

 

St. Jude‘s

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital has done so much good for children’s health and medical research over the years. They have an expansive gift shop that includes patient-designed gifts, celebrity products among other great gifts that are perfect for the holidays. The great thing about these gifts is that 100% of the profit, after all related expenses, goes back to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

 

Save the Children

Save the Children provides aid to kids in the U.S. and worldwide. By giving to this organization, it would benefit children locally or those abroad who may require daily essentials, educational tools and beyond. You can sponsor a child, donate directly to Save the Children, or donate products, services or gifts that might benefit the children in need.

By purchasing gifts such as this baby, the organization is able to help children around the world.

 

Alex’s Lemonade Stand

Donations to Alex’s Lemonade Stand fund research to find better treatments and cures for children with cancer. The organization has raised more than $100 million since 2005 to fund 500 childhood cancer research projects at 102 top hospitals and institutions in the US and Canada.

The organization is featuring a Giving Tuesday special that includes one hour of research and an Alex’s Lemonade ornament for $60. Consider donating to this charitable cause to help children’s medical need.

Food for Thought Cards

These charitable gifts are simple: for every card purchased, one peanut butter and jelly sandwich will be donated to feed the hungry.

Since January 2013, Food for Thoughts Cards has happily donated the value equivalent to the cost of 23,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, and other organizations that feed the hungry. This charity has reached many local organizations, including several in the Morristown vicinity.

 

Consider gifting or donating to one of these organizations this Giving Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kicking off the Holidays in Style with Momtrends

It’s been a yearly tradition to kick off my holiday season with my friends at Momtrends their Annual Holiday Soiree. This year, they celebrated their 5th annual event!

Nicole Feliciano, the trend-spotting and style savvy founder of Momtrends, has a true knack for gathering the most influential voices in the Tri-State and beyond. Every event is filled with fabulous brands and amazing products, and this year’s Soiree was no exception.

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Momtrends’ Holiday Soiree featured a myriad of brands who help make the season brighter, ranging from Cabi to Pom Wonderful.

Epson showcased their Ecotank printer that boasts high quality prints and photos, and an impressive printing capacity. Apparently, with this printer, you don’t have to change the tanks for 2 years! My blogger pals and I had a blast posing in the backdrop and we even took some Epson prints home!

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The Cabi fashion show was a highlight of the night. It was so lovely to see Cabi’s functional styles on real women, including my friend, Divina of DancingHotDogs.com. The cape and tailored skirt makes for a polished look for the holidays!

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Telaflora once again showcased their beautiful flowers, which would be perfect as centerpieces or hostess gifts. Among the beautiful red and white arrangements, I really loved the Peanuts collection!

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While hanging out with friends, we noshed on the various snacks dipped in Tessemae’s sauces and sipped on Pom-tinis. The all natural sauces from Tessemae’s has quite the back story. Some brothers began bottling the salad dressing upon realizing the true demand of their mom’s delicious recipes. Many years later, these dressings are available at Whole Foods, among other retailers.

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With pomegranates in season right now, it was great to taste various cocktails with this delicious fruit. After learning how to open this delicious fruit, I’m excited to include it in more recipes and snacks!

What are delicious beverages without containers to serve and transport them? I loved learning all about Igloo’s latest products, including that very cool party tub! As a major sports family, we use those Igloo coolers and containers incessantly!

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On to the baby and kid stuff:

I always love seeing my friends from Hasbro showcases their awesome toys. Hasbro was in the house and had their classic games to highlight. They have so many fun toys and games this holiday season, but it’s the classics that make family time so fun.

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I loved learning all about Bedgear and their very cool textile technology. This company makes waterproof crib sheets, wicking pillowcases, among other cool products. They were super cozy and perfect for napping after Turkey dinner.
 

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Perhaps one of my favorites of the night was Mudpuppy! As a kid product enthusiast, I loved the aesthetic and range of innovative books, games and other stationery product from Mudpuppy. IMG 0105

From the cool chalk board posters to the magnetic puzzle kits, I am totally smitten with this fabulous brand. And as luck would have it, I won a very generous prize kit from Mudpuppy as part of the evening’s raffle. Though I’m unlucky in so many other aspects, somehow, my luck balances out whenever I attend Momtrends’ events. So, thank you to the Momtrends team and to Mudpuppy for this awesome prize kit! After sharing a separate review on the products, I will be making a donation to the children’s hospital for kids to enjoy while receiving treatment.

Thank you, as always, to the Momtrends team for including me in such a lovely event. It’s always an honor to be included with so many smart and savvy women! Be on the lookout for more thorough reviews of more products spotted at the Holiday Soiree!

Top Toys of 2015

From Toy Fair in February to recent holiday media events, I’ve been scouting toys and trends all year for The Next Kid Thing. I have several lists in the works, but before the biggest shopping day of the year kicks off, I wanted to share some of the coolest toys that I think might be the big sellers this season.

I put this list together based on the play value, my kids’ reaction, price point as well as accessibility. I’ve been checking out the toys’ popularity online and in person and have compiled, what I think, might be some of the hottest sellers this season. Some obvious picks did not make my list because the supply is more accessible or the price is out of reach for many people.

Keep an eye out for more of our picks. Until then, I present The Next Kid Thing Top Toys for 2015.

 

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1. Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train

 This is the latest version of Vtech’s popular Alphabet Train. The multi-phase toy is intuitive and is perfect for tots who are sitting, toddling or already on the go. I love that this toy grows with kids and offers so many different types of educational play and function. On sale, I’ve spotted this great toy in the $40 range.

 

2. Bright Beats Dance and Move Beatbo

Beatbo first caught my eye at Toy Fair because of its bright and simple aesthetic. Beatbo dances, sings and has engaging educational games, perfect for curious toddlers. Beatbo can be found at major retailers for $35.

 

3. Paw Patrol Interactive Mission Chase

 Chase has all kinds of features, making him quite the hot commodity. Chase is bigger in size and has cool details for making missions easier. Paw Patrol toys, in general, are popular, so make sure to pick up Chase before he becomes hard to find later in the season. This Chase is #1 on my little guy’s list.

 

4. Paw Patrol Patroller

This Paw Patroller vehicle holds 3 vehicles when closed and several more when opened, making it an ideal gift for Paw Patrol mega-fans. This cool vehicle has multiple functions and landed on several top toys’ lists, and will certainly be another popular toy this season. Head’s up: Target currently has a 20% off Promo on toys. Head to their site to take advantage of this deal.

 

5. Shopkins

Just like it’s been all year, expect anything Shopkins to be super popular this holiday season. Right now, playsets and blind bags are in stock, but expect anything Shopkins to be a must-have for kids who appreciate these super cute collectibles. I love this Ice Cream Truck!

 

6. Clever Keet

Little Live Pets have been a favorite for animal lovers, and Clever Keet is no exception. This clever guy can chat and respond to your voice. He dances and even rides his little cart. 

7. American Girl Grace Thomas

The 2015 Girl of the Year Grace Thomas encourages savvy kids to pursue big ideas and embrace the business world. Available for only one year, the Grace collection includes an18-inch Grace doll featuring long dark-brown hair and blue eyes, plus several French-inspired outfits, accessories, and toys that reflect her interests, such as the premium French Bakery Set with more than 60 pieces.

8. Girl Scouts Cookie Oven

The very cool Girl Scouts Cookie Oven is making quite the buzz this holiday season. With this fantastic toy, kids can bake their favorite Girl Scout cookie flavors at home while learning how to bake. 

9. Interactive R2-D2

With the upcoming release of the latest installment of Star Wars: the Force Awakens, it’s no surprise that Star Wars toys will be among the hottest toys this season. One toy that made our list of hot toys is Thinkways’ Interactive R2-D2. He projects images, turns his head while he talks, is voice-activated, among other cool features. With over 1000 programmable action combos, this smart toy will be a favorite for kids and adults alike.

10. BB-8 Sphero

BB-8 Sphero has been a hot Star Wars item since Force Friday earlier this year. This interactive droid is app-enabled and has voice-recognition, and has been dubbed the coolest Star Wars Toy by various outlets. Another toy that’s expected to be a popular multi-generational gift, this guy might be hard to find later in the season.

11. Lego Dimensions

Lego Dimensions joins the market as the latest toy to life video game. But this time, this video game has the clout of its beloved Lego franchise and characters to back up its foray onto consoles. From fun characters from the Lego Movie to classic superhero and cartoon figures, Lego Dimensions is already popular for kids and families. Since spotting it at the Kidz Vuz Back to School party, this game is #1 on my older guy’s list!
Head’s up: Lego Dimensions is featured on Target’s Cartwheel for 35% off for two more days, which makes it around $65. Combine this with an additional 5% off if you have Target RedCard. To compare: Toys R’ Us has Lego Dimensions on sale for $64.99 on Black Friday at 7am. 

12. LeapFrog LeapPad Platinum

LeapFrog’s latest LeapPad Platinum has some of the coolest features yet. It features a faster processor and crisp screen. In addition to the popular LeapFrog games and easy-to-navigate interface, the LeapPad Platinum features the unique and cutting-edge ImagiCard technology. My preschooler is obsessed with ImagiCard and I appreciate how reinforces counting, colors, alphabet, as well as tactile manipulation.

As of today, all of these toys are available in stores and online. Be sure to take advantage of pre-Black Friday sales and coupons which are proving to be cheaper than schlepping out to stores in the wee hours later this week.

Stay tuned for more gift ideas with all of my NKT Holiday Gift Guides!

 

 

Video: Happy Dance Snoopy from Just Play Toys

As I’m busy getting prepping this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, I thought I’d share a video of one of my favorite toys that I spotted in my travels. Just Play Toys, one of my favorites, has some of the hottest toys this Holiday Season, including Happy Dance Snoopy! This fun plush toy dances to the iconic Peanuts theme song, while moving its feet and flopping his beagle ears! If you give him a smooch on his nose, he responds with a smooch, a laugh, a howl or a belch. Silly dog!

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As a huge fan of this franchise and the latest release, I think Just Play did the Peanuts franchise justice with this fun toy. At just $29.99, Happy Dance Snoopy is such a reasonable price point for this guy. There are several other fun toys in the line, but I’m so smitten with Happy Dance Snoopy. In a complicated time, it’s refreshing to divert happiness and fun to beloved characters who exude a free-spirited life! Check out Snoopy in action!

 

Review: PuroSound Kids’ Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

As technology continues to evolve, as does tech specifically geared to kids.  We recently had the chance to review PuroSound Kids’ Bluetooth Wireless Headphones, and it’s safe to say, we were immediately smitten with these cool headphones.

 

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The sleek white headphones were a comfortable fit for my 7 year old, as well as for my 3 year old. The size is easily transitioned from small to bigger, with maintaining a smaller kid-size frame. I was able to try them on for size; though a bit snug for my head, they fit and I was able to listen to the excellent audio from these great headphones.

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PuroSound Kids’ Bluetooth Wireless Headphones says:

We designed them especially for kids, but adults can wear them too.  They have the most advanced noise limiting solution on the market and they sound great! The volume automatically limits to 85 dB, plus 82% of back ground noise is blocked.  They are studio grade audio quality and have an 18 hour battery life.These headphones are amazing and kids love to wear them.  We designed them especially for kids, but adults can wear them too.  They have the most advanced noise limiting solution on the market and they sound great. The volume automatically limits to 85 dB, plus 82% of back ground noise is blocked.  They are studio grade audio quality and have an 18 hour battery life.

 

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As far as headphones for kids, PuroSound developed a great product. They’re aesthetically pleasing, functional, durable and a great fit for kids and tweens. My 7-year-old loved that these headphones are bluetooth-enabled. I can’t tell you how many kid headphones we’ve had to toss because the cord became dysfunctional. I appreciate that these headphones are sleek, have a longer battery life and offer a volume-limiting solution, ideal for my kid who insists on blasting his headphones.

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PuroSound Kids’ Bluetooth Wireless Headphones can be found on Amazon for $79.99.

 

Full disclosure: we received a sample to facilitate this review. As always, opinions on NKT are my own.

Free Thank You Printable: You’re The Balm

School just ended and we had so many things to celebrate with our wonderful teachers. Littles had a lot of help with his transition into preschool. I was so grateful that these wonderful educators always take such great care of my boy. I felt we could go a bit further than a gift card or generic card. So, I combined some fairly inexpensive beauty items that I absolutely love with a catchy phrase, and voilá!

 I made a super easy thank you gift that conveyed my thanks for multiple teachers and aides who took care of my special needs preschooler all day.

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For this gift, I bought multiple flavors of EOS lip balm and lotions. I then bagged and added a ribbon and a tag. I really think the tag turned out super cute for something I whipped up in just a few minutes. End result: You’re the Balm thank you gifts! EOS balm and lotions can be found at Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. And when they’re on sale or if you have a coupon, it makes them that much sweeter.

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I noticed that there’s a few new flavors and loved being able to incorporate them into my gift. I definitely want to try the tangerine medicated lip balms for myself. As for the lotions? I can’t get over the easy to grab and portable packaging. The scents are fresh and sweet; the only thing about these lotions is that I’d love to see even more scents!

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And these You’re the Balm thank you gifts can be used beyond teacher gifts! I shared the printable on Facebook and my friend used it for her friend’s bachelorette and bridesmaid’s gifts. When it comes to giving small beauty gifts to show your gratitude, the possibilities are endless. And because I’m all about sharing the love, please download the printable here! If you do use it, don’t forget to Pin it or comment below or on Facebook and tell me how you used it!

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TTPM Spring Showcase Gifting Suite Haul

A few weeks ago, I attended TTPM’s Spring Showcase, where the latest and greatest for spring and summer toys were revealed. It’s always great to hear the experts’ opinions on the hot toys of the season.

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And this time around, hot toys range from outdoor toys, to ride on toys from Razor, to movie-inspired gear and goodies. Be sure to check out TTPM’s full lineup of this season’s hot toys.

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Like their other showcases, TTPM hosted a gifting suite where press and influencers receive samples of toys that might be relevant for their outlets. I met with all of the exhibitors, but typically only grab samples that are a fit for us. I let the boys do a haul of the samples I brought home with my usual sidebar comments! Be sure to head to our YouTube channel to check out the video!

 

Vera Sweeney to Host Trollbeads Event in NYC on Saturday

With Mother’s Day upon us, there are so many fun mom-centric events on the horizon. If you’re in the City this weekend, my beautiful friend, Vera Sweeney of Lady and the Blog and TLC’s “What She Said” fame, is hosting a fun event on Saturday with Trollbeads.

Join Trollbeads for a Mother & Daughter Event hosted by Vera Sweeney from Lady & the Blog and TLC’s “What She Said.” Guests will receive a custom flower crown designed by Rachel Cho with every purchase (while supplies last). 

What She Said” is set to air on May 10th and features some of the country’s foremost female comics commiserating, venting, and speaking the truth about being mothers during these crazy modern times.

When: Saturday, May 2nd 1-4PM 
226 Columbus Ave, NYC
646.692.3113

RSVP to veryvera@gmail.com to guarantee VIP gift

If you go, tell her I sent you! Vera is fabulous!

 

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Baby Gear, Goodies and Gadgets We’re Excited About this Spring

I’m choosing to ignore what the forecasts are saying for Friday. No more snow, thank you very much—especially on the first day of Spring.

Instead, I thought I’d share some baby gear, gadgets and goodies that are perfect for those of you whom, like me, have Spring on the brain.

Cetaphil Baby

Cetaphil, known for its powerful yet gentle products that are recommended by dermatologists, recently introduced their new baby line, which touts natural ingredients and formulations perfect for gentle skin.

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The line debuted at Buy Buy Baby in January and consists of diaper cream, Wash and Shampoo ($9.99), Ultra Moisturizing Wash ($5.99,) Daily Lotion ($9.99) and Moisturizing Oil ($6.99.) All Cetaphil Baby products are paraben free, mineral oil free, hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested. What I love most about Cetaphil Baby Daily Lotion is the fresh calendula scent. In the past only prescription creams have been able to heal my tot’s very sensitive and dry skin, but Cetaphil Baby Daily Lotion and Moisturizing Oil have been able to soothe his problem areas. In addition to Buy Buy Baby, be on the look out for Cetaphil Baby at Babies ‘R Us shelves this month. 

Evenflo Platinum and Symphony DLX All-In-One Car Seat

PTRU1 17431814enh z6This cozy and sleek carseat has been turning heads since its reveal last year. It features Outlast Performance fabric that can absorb hot and cold temperature, which is ideal for kids who spend a lot of time in their seats, whether its in the school car line or long road trips. Boasting a 60 second installation time, the SureLatch Technology is another feature that’s helpful for quick and secure installation. The key feature for me on the Symphony DLX All-in-One Car Seat is the e3 Side Impact Protection which is designed and tested to reduce side impact forces up to 50%. The Symphony DLX All-in-One Car Seat ($230) with fabric as shown above is exclusive to Babies ‘R Us.

Love to Dream

Love to Dream has been on my mind lately because I’ve had so many friends who have been having babies. Love to Dream has several products in their line but their SwaddleUp comes to mind first.

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The SwaddleUp is designed to swaddle babies who prefer to have their arms up, rather than tucked away. The Love to SwaddleUP is step 1 in the Love to Dream sleep system. It’s designed for 0-4 months and allows baby to sleep with arms up, allowing baby to self-soothe. The Step 2 in the Love to Dream Sleep System is the 50/50 , which helps baby transition from a swaddle towards the arms-free independence of a sleep bag.

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Geared to babies 4-8 months, the 50/50 is particularly helpful for this transition stage when baby starts to become more mobile. Step 3 are the Inventa and Nuzzlin Sleep Bags. The Inventa features the Genius Cooling system which helps regulate your child’s temperature without disrupting sleep, which is great in spring with cooler and warmer temperatures.

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The Nuzzlin is a light and breathable sleep bag that can keep a tot cool on warm nights and warm on cool nights.

Britax B-Agile 3

Britax’s light weight and quick-fold stroller, B-Agile 3, is now available in bright and bold colors this Spring. The B-Agile 3 new shower collection includes hues reminiscent of jewel-toned Easter goodies that are synonomous with the spring season.

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The B-Agile 3’s new colors include Limeade, a citrus yellow; Concord, a vibrant grape purple; and Aqua, a light turquoise. Meadow, a lush green, and Sapphire, a royal blue, are nods to the tones of the classic Britax ruby red fabric. These five colors of the shower collection round out the Britax fashion spectrum by joining the original Black, Red and Sandstone options.


Toy Fair 2015 Faves: Knit’s Cool, Snap Pets, Lego Minecraft, Plan Toys

There was so much to see and do at Toy Fair this year. Before I share about the trends I saw, I wanted to share a few of my favorites from this year’s show. Most of these toys won’t hit shelves until this summer or fall, so here’s your sneak peek at a few of my favorite next kid things:
 

Knit’s Cool
 

Spinmaster’s Sew Cool did so well last year that they’re riding the maker trend with a number of cool activity sets for Tweens. Knit Cool is an interesting set that allows kids to knit with ease, similar to that of finger/arm knitting. I can’t wait to see this generation of kids continue to make cool things with their own imagination and ingenuity.
 

Snap Pets

Selfies and tech toys were displayed loud and proud at Toy Fair. Snap Pets from Wowee is a fun selfie tool that can be used to take selfie images or as a remote. Tweens will love the small size of this cool selfie tool. 
 

Lego Minecraft

Speaking of creations, Lego, as expected, has a slew of cool new sets. Because Lego Minecraft was one of hottest gifts last holiday season, I thought I’d share a few photos of the upcoming sets in this series.

I saw a lot of new and upcoming Lego sets that encourage kids to forego the instruction manual and enjoy open-ended play. The crafting box is just one of many sets that give suggestions on what to build, but just like the digital version of Minecraft, this set capitalizes on pure imagination.

The Mine is another cool set that I loved seeing coming to life. The skeleton, creeper and spider are my favorite part of this set!

The Ender Dragon is another cool set that is sure to be huge among Minecraft aficionados.

Plan Toys
 

Plan Toys remains one of my absolute favorite toy companies, not just because they produce aesthetically pleasing goodies, but also because they’re eco-friendly and socially conscious.
Here are just a few of my favorite finds from my Plan Toys booth visit.
 
This chalkboard table set would look super cool in a playroom or classroom!

This rocket nesting toy is so eye-catching. The toys nesting inside were never-ending!

I can’t resist boat toys. This sailboat was so classic and cute!

If only NYC taxis could be this innocent and cute. Nevertheless, I love this sweet wooden taxi.

You can’t go wrong with wooden pull toys. Plan Toys owns the cute card in this category.

 More details and fun finds to come!