The Giving Season: My Holiday Gift Guide on a Budget

Hi all! Happy Tuesday! With Christmas right around the corner I thought I would put together a list of my go-to gifts for kids, family, friends, nanny bosses, etc that are all budget friendly:)

Christmas is my most favorite time of year! I think it is magical and perfect in every way. Giving someone a gift that they will love and use is very important to me. Now that I am spending my own hard earned money (that could go to groceries & gas) on gifts for everyone on my list I’ve tried to get a little more thrifty. When buying gifts for my family I am willing to spend more so they are less of a concern. My main problem comes to buying gifts for all my tiny humans I like to make feel special this time of year! With 8 kiddos I like to buy for I have had to find ways to keep my spending under control. While it may be tempting to buy your kid the new latest and greatest LEGO set, with my college nanny budget $50 for one gift is not going to fly. This time of year it can be hard to buy for others as well. Those including cousins, friends, aunts /uncles, and nanny bosses. Those people who are important to you add up. I have found instead of ignoring those groups of people all together set a small budget like you do for the kiddos are stick to that. These are some of my go-to gifts and helpful tricks I use to make holiday shopping easier on the budget and mind 🙂

 

My Tips to Stay on Budget 

Check the Target Cartwheel App. I am not a loyal user of this app because I don’t think you save that much. BUT recently I’ve realized if you look, you can find great deals on things you may be interested in buying for gifts. Last week Disney Princess costumes were 50% off. I’ve also seen LEGO sets on sale. They have books, movies, toys, crafts, and other things that may be on your list. It is definitely worth checking it out before you go make you gift purchases.

Keep eyes open for toys/gifts on sale year round. This is something I do mainly for gifts I am going to buy my nanny kiddos. Throughout the year when Target, Toys ‘R’ Us, and other kid stores have things on sale I buy them then and then save them for Christmas. I found a Cinderella Barbie carriage for Ruby in September for $20 (originally $40). This can work for friends and family too. If you see something in July you think your friend Rachel will love, get it! Bring it home and just put it somewhere you will remember!! You don’t want December 22nd to come and have to tear your house apart to find it 🙂

Shop at the Target $1 spot or $3 spot. This is for kids especially (nieces, nephews, nanny kids, stocking stuffers, cousins, friends kids)! Kids can’t tell whether something they get was only $1. These days the $1 spot at Target has some great things! Everything from Minions to Disney Princess to Elmo. Take advantage of this area and use that as small little gifts to go with a bigger one, or buy a few of the little things and that can be their gift! It is the fact that you thought about the kid and something to get them that matters.

Set a budget for how much you want to spend. And stick to it! If you only have $10 to spend on each person, that is okay! Don’t feel pressure to go overboard because others are. You can get some great stuff for a small amount of money these days. Take advantage of sales, shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal, check out your local Dollar Store, or make something! These days handmade gifts (like candles or cocoa mix in a bag) are just as special. Just make sure you take your time and make it nice by adding little details, like ribbons.

Here are some of my go-to gifts for kids, friends, nanny bosses, and family!

Gifts for kids t300_8a654cc96f475ac3c6c93a8a17a69fc115716281

  • Melissa and Doug Sticker Books $5
  • Mini Lego Sets $5 – $10
  • Fleece Tie Blankets: This is particular one of my favorites. I gave one to a girl I have watched for a long time a couple years ago, and she still sleeps with it every night 🙂 Something as simple as a blanket can mean so much to a child because it reminds them you love them. If you look out for sales on fleece at your local fabric store this can be an inexpensive gift! It just takes some time to make.
  • Framed picture of the two of you: You can embellish the frame to with stickers and jewels.
  • Hot Cocoa Mix in a Bag: All you need is cellophane bags, cocoa powder, sugar, powdered sugar, and a pinch salt. Here a link to an easy recipe! Pour desired amount of mix in cellophane bag. Add mini marshmallows to the top and seal with ribbon!
  • Fun outing with just you two: Kids love to feel special and celebrated. Give them the gift of your time. Tell them to pick a fun thing to do and restaurant to go to together. Then do it around Christmas time. Maybe buy something special while your out to remember your happy day together.
  • Scrapbook: This is very time consuming and costs more than the others, BUT it is one of the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts you can give. I handmade one for Ruby at the end of our summer together. She and her parents love it! It makes me so happy to look back at them when I am there on Fridays now. It’s a physical reminder of your time together. While I took the long route of making each page by hand, there are now much more efficient options online. Check out Snapfish or Whalgreens!

 

Gifts for nanny friends/cousins 

  • Anthropologie coffee mug with letter $8: I give these out a lot and sometimes add homemade hot cocoa in a bag to put in the middle of the cup. It makes for a nice yet inexpensive gift!
  • Bath and body works deals: There are usually tons of sales at Bath and Body works. They have the buy 3 lotions get 2 free a lot so take advantage of that! You can get 5 gifts for friends/family for the price of 3!
  • Lush Bath Bomb $5 – $9
  • Framed picture of you two (embellish the frame)
  • Homemade spa stuff: There are lots of recipes of these online. I received some form one of my cousins last year and it was amazing!

Gifts for nanny boss

  • Handmade art by their kid (mistle toes, handprint)
  • Candle: Easy to find at Target, Bath and Body works, etc
  • Personalized ornament: Head to your local mall and get an ornament personalized with all the family members names on it. This is an easy, meaningful gift that parents enjoy.
  • Ornament in general: If there is a special ornament out there that you think would be meaningful to the parents get that! This year Ruby, I, and her mom were 3 Disney princesses for Ruby’s birthday. So I decided to get Ruby and her mom an ornament of each princess we were to forever have that memory.
  • A calendar full of pictures of the kid: I highly suggest this gift! I made one for only $13 with shipping and Ruby’s mom LOVES it. Right now on Snapfish you can make one for $8!! It is a very thoughtful and meaningful gift. I got all of the pictures of their family from Facebook and pictures I had of Ruby so it was a fun surprise for her mom. It is pretty easy to do these with helpful websites like Snapfish or Shutterfly or Whalgreens! More often than not they have sales going on so make your calendar and then order while there is a sale! Check all 3 to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

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In the end what really matters when giving a gift is the thought you put into it. You don’t need to spend $100 to show someone you love them. I hope you find this list helpful! Merry Christmas to all of you 🙂

xoxo Kelly

 

The Giving Season: Love Your Melon

I am going to do a few gift giving ideas this holiday season, each with it’s own tie to helping kids in need. I started with American Girl and now up is Love Your Melon.

Love Your Melon is an amazing company started by Minnesota college students. Their mission is to put a hat on every child battling cancer. When you buy a hat, they donate a hat. It simple. Buy one, give one. These beanies and hats are super cute and affordable hats. They have a few different style of hats they sell. Some will keep your ears warm in the freezing cold winter, and others will provide shade from the sun on the hot summer days. The also have shirts and accessories on their site.

They come in a wide array of colors as well. These make perfect gifts for anyone on your list. They are super popular with college kids- I see them all over my campus. I have one and love it! I am planning on giving some as gifts to my cousins and friends this holiday season. Parents: They are a perfect gift for your nanny this holiday as well or your children! Nannies: they are a perfect gift for friends and family members! Who wouldn’t want to buy a cute, nice gift and help a sick child at the same time? Sounds perfect to me. Also ALL of their products are made in the US. Another added benefit to buying something from them. They keep it all within our borders and provide jobs for people in the US.

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A little more on Love Your Melon… Besides On delivery day local college kids who work for the company deliver hats to children in the hospital in superhero costumes! Which is such a great idea to brighten the lives of these sick children. They are a business run mainly by students on college campuses who want to make a difference, which I think is remarkable. It is so great to see college students working together, across the country to make a difference in the lives of sick children.

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Check out their website here. Order yours today and make a difference in the lives of children!

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2015

Photos from: loveyourmelon.com and pinterist

Be Thankful

Being thankful is something every kid (and adult) can sometimes need a reminder of. I know I try my best to remember how lucky I am for the life I have but life gets crazy and hard sometimes, so I forget. Kids are busy bodies with a million thoughts going through their heads every second. It is easy for them to forget to be thankful as well. While it is good to be thankful year round, Thanksgiving is a good time of year to take a second out of our busy days and remember why/what we are thankful for. It is a good time of year to reflect on your year and life and remember all the things you are lucky to have. It is important to do this with your children as well! Here are a few simple way to break out the gratitude and thankfulness in your little one 🙂

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  • List off all the people who are a part of their life who love them. This is simple and can be done quickly. Ruby and I have done it a few times on longer car trips. I say who loves Ruby? and she starts listing off mommy, daddy, Kelly, grandma, grandpa, etc. After we have listed off a lot I make a point to tell her how lucky she is to have so many people who love her and who she loves. Then I remind her that she should be thankful to have so many people on that list. It always boosts her mood and puts a smile on her face. I then follow that up with “next time you see _____ you should tell them how much you love them.”
  • Make a craft relating to Thanksgiving and being thankful . There are so many options with this, and it is a great way to teach kids the wide range of things they have to be thankful for. It is easy for kids to list off concrete examples like my blankie or my train track, but it’s harder to list of the more abstract ideas like family, friends, education, etc. While doing the craft you can teach them about the more abstract ideas. After they name their first few then you could say something like “well aren’t you thankful for having a nice friend like Abby?” A question like that will prompt their little minds to start thinking of things along that realm. Keep that discussion going! Here is a great list of 7 crafts that can teach kids about being thankful!
  • Remind them how lucky they are to be healthy and have full bellies. A lot of kids don’t know on their own that these are things some people don’t have. It is am important life realization to have because it is part of our reality. You want to be age appropriate in how you describe that there are kids who are sick and in the hospital or that there are kids who don’t always get to eat dinner. If you make things seem too bleak it may not register with them, but they are smarter than you think and can handle a version of the truth about health, food, and wealth. I leave that discretion to you, the nanny or parent. You know your child the best and how you think this discussion should go.
  • Donate food to a local food shelf. Tell your kids that since not everyone can buy all the food they want (or need) you guys are going to help them out! Bring your kids with and ask them what they want to buy. I have done this with Ruby and she usually gives some of her favorite foods. It a good learning moment because it causes her to reflect on what she likes and that well maybe another kid would like some Easy Mac as well! It teaches compassion and social awareness. Have them help you bring the food in to the donation site. Afterward celebrate their charity work with a fun snack or trip to the park. Let them know how proud you are of them, and that they just helped make a lot of people happier.
  • If your kids are old enough- volunteer! I have gone with school groups and my parents since I was young to Feed My Starving Children. At FMSC you pack meals for people in countries all over the world in dire need of food. They present the need for food in age appropriate ways, so you don’t need to be worried about it scaring you child. I have very fond memories of going there as a kid! It’s usually an upbeat environment with lots of laughter and good feelings. If there isn’t a FMSC near you, look for other local places that pack meals for the hungry. They are all over!

A few things I am thankful for this holiday 🙂

  • All my tiny humans!
  • My sweet, loving boyfriend
  • My amazing family
  • My education
  • The ability to travel
  • My best friend (even though she lives 1,000 miles away!)
  • The little opportunities each day brings to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Being thankful for things we have isn’t something that is something that we explicitly say everyday, but hopefully there is a moment each day where you think about it. This is an important thing to instill in your kids. Learning to be thankful teaches kids humility, the importance of giving to others if you can, empathy, love, and a bounty of more skills. It will help them develop into compassionate, helpful, grateful humans.

On that note, I hope you all have a safe, fun-filled Thanksgiving! I leave you all with one of my favorite quotes that isn’t directly related to being thankful, but something I have learned as a result of being thankful.

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The Giving Season: American Girl Dolls

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While there are many places in need and worth donating to this year, I want to highlight one unique option that means a lot to me. I still remember getting my first American Girl Doll for Christmas when I was 10 years old. I treated Kailey like she was my daughter. I loved that doll. I played with her every single day. I knew how special she was and lucky I was to be able to have one. Now one of the little girls I nanny loves that doll still. American Girl dolls are amazing friends and playmates for any child. They are even better playmates for kids in need. They can provide them with some joy and happiness in a not so happy place. This year American Girl is partnering with the Children’s Hospital Association and donating American Girl dolls to sick children in their hospitals. For every doll someone buys, American Girl is donating a second doll to the Children’s Hospital Association. If you are thinking about getting your child, grandchild, niece, or anyone an American Girl Doll for Christmas, buy it now! This “Get a friend. Give a friend.” promotion is only going on until November 30th. What a special way to make a donation this year. I know they are expensive dolls; however this may take the bite out of spending $130 on a doll, because with that you are making another little girl’s holiday wishes come true. Thanks for being awesome American Girl!

If you want to donate a friend to a someone in need head over to their website.

 

Photo credit: https://www.americangirl.com/general/giveafriend