Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Groupon. All opinions are my own and I’m excited to help you save money on gifts.
Are you familiar with Groupon? It is a website I have used many times to score great deals on local and online activities and products. But did you know that Groupon also offer coupons to over 9,000 retailers? That’s over 70,000 coupons, promo codes and deals. Not to mention, many of these places are great for buying gifts.
Here are some examples:
Edible Arrangements – I love the wonderful gift possibilities of Edible Arrangements. I have sent (and received) the most delicious gifts of fresh fruit with Edible Arrangement’s beautiful presentation. While the arrangements are great anytime, I think they are especially thoughtful gifts when the recipient is celebrating a new baby, new home or going through a difficult time, such as crisis or grief. On Groupon, you’ll find a current coupon for 20% off your Edible Arrangement purchase of $65 or more.
1-800-Flowers – There are so many occasions for sending flowers! Check out the current specials on Groupon, including a code for 15% off sitewide.
Things Remembered – When I think of quality, engraved or etched gifts that last a lifetime, I think of Things Remembered. Don’t tell my son, but the gift in his baby box that he will be able to open when he turns 16 is from this store. Groupon currently has a coupon that is 25% Off + Extra 20% Off + Free Shipping With Code. Not bad!
Shutterfly – Whether you’re making a photo book for the grandparents or a personalized gift for the home, office, or kitchen, I love what you can do with a favorite photo at Shutterfly. Check out the 40% off coupon on Groupon now!
Personalization Mall – Wow! Have you seen the variety of fun gifts available at this store? From back-to-school items and wedding party favors to grandparent gifts and pet products, there is something for every need. Score a $10 off coupon through Groupon when you spend $50 at the Personalization Mall.
Earlier in the summer, the kids and I piled into the truck and went to the drive-in to see Cars 3. One thing we know how to do is go to the drive-in in style. Air mattress, air pump, sheets, blankets, pillows, snacks, drinks and games. It is one of our favorite summer traditions and we are blessed to have a drive-in theater not too far away.
Did you know there are less than 350 drive-in theaters left in the USA? If you happen to live near one, be sure to support it and make fun family memories.
We went to the drive-in for the opening weekend of Cars 3 and I have to tell you that this is my favorite of all the Cars movies! It is a story of change, failure, legacy, perseverance in adversity, moving beyond your comfort zone and making a difference . . . yep, all packed into one hour and forty-nine minutes. Aside from the few (and typical of Cars movies) bad words/phrases that I’m not a fan of, it is a great film. Inspiring, funny and thought-provoking . . . I just loved it.
Here are some fun and free printables for your kids. >> Don’t download the photos, scroll to the bottom and download the pdf versions.
Cars 3 Activity Sheets – – Download Here > >
Cars3 Spot the Difference
Cars3 Speed Read Bookmarks
Cars3 Race to the Finish Board Game
Cars3 Piston Cup Race Maze
Cars3 Nat Stats
Cars3 Miss Fritter’s Corn Fritters
Cars3 Memory Race
Cars3 Make Your Own Race Course
Cars3 Lightning McQueen Coloring Sheet
Cars3 Jackson Storm Coloring Sheet
Cars3 Crux Ramirez Coloring Sheet
Cars3 Crazy Eight Card Game
I can’t wait to hear what you think of the movie. Have fun!
The minute Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise, we all knew that the galaxy far, far away was about to get so much closer. If you have even one Star Wars fan in the house, you’re marching orders have already been set. Schedule your next family vacation for Walt Disney World and plan on spending plenty of time at Hollywood Studios.
If this is your first time to Hollywood Studios, there is a lot you need to know . . . especially if traveling with young Jedi who have big expectations. How do you make the most of your day? What should you do first? Do you really have to get to the park early if you want to do Jedi Training?
Here is what you need to know and what you can expect during your visit to Hollywood Studios. I have included many tips, including those things you should know to avoid disappointment (like what you need in order to trade successfully with the Jawas).
Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
The Jedi Training Academy (for children 4-12 years of age) is a fun, interactive 20-minute show where kids get in on the story. The young Jedi learn a brief fighting/training routine and get to battle either Darth Vader or the Seventh Sister Inquisitor from Star Wars Rebels. It is awesome!
Here is what you need to know:
Get there early. Registration begins when the park opens and availability is limited. Jedi Training is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. We arrived at Hollywood Studios 45 minutes before it opened and there was already a crowd. It also happened to be an Extra Magic Hour day which meant 7:15am park arrival! (Good thing my husband is game for the fun!)
We went through security and waited awhile in line for admission where you scan your magic band or ticket. They did open those lines early and then held everyone at the base of Hollywood Blvd. This helps congestion at park opening. At 8:00am (Extra Magic Hour opening), they let us go.
I’m not going to lie – it was crazy. We were close to the front of the “rope drop” line and people made a mad dash towards sign-up for Jedi Training. We were walking fast, very fast. Go with the crowd and hold your babies’ hands.
Good To Know: If you are not a Disney hotel guest and it is an Extra Magic Hour for resort guests, I do wonder whether you stand any chance of getting registered before all space is filled. You are entering the park an hour after the resort guests. My suggestion is to check the park calendar and avoid these days. Extra Magic Hours generally happen for Hollywood Studios in the morning once a week.
How and where to register: Registration is past the 50’s Prime Time Cafe and before Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! However, for the early morning crowds, they use the queue lines of Indiana Jones for the large number of guests.
When you get closer to the registration kiosks, a cast member will give you a show guide and ask you to be ready with your time choice. When you get to the kiosk, you will give your kids’ names and pick a show time.
Good to Know: First, YOUR KIDS MUST BE PRESENT WITH YOU TO REGISTER. Second, you will be told to arrive 30 MINUTES PRIOR to show time. Check your Fast Pass times so that you can be sure to make your Jedi Training Show time. You will be given registration slips for each registered child. Don’t lose them.
Arriving Prior to Show Time: When you arrive, there are two rows of circles for the kids to sit on. While there is a chance that the cast members will move your children around (especially taller kids), the front row of circles will fight Darth Vader and the back row will fight the Seventh Sister Inquisitor. Once the cast members check in the children with their registration slip, they will receive a Jedi robe.
Good To Know: While we arrived right at the 30 minute prior mark, most of the circles were already claimed. You don’t have to worry about being locked out of the show because you are registered. However, if your child has their heart set on fighting Darth Vader, you will probably want to arrive early enough to claim a front circle. (And hopefully, this process won’t change in the future.)
Closer to show time, the group of kids and parents will parade to the temple. Yes, parade needs to be the verb in this case because it is so cute . . . 20 younglings in Jedi robes with the front two kids carrying a banner. It is a fun picture moment. Parents will stay with their kids until arrival at the temple stage.
Good To Know: This show is outdoors and if there is inclement weather, the show does get cancelled. Pray for good weather!
The Show Itself: The show is a fun story of courage, patience and teamwork. I’m not going to tell you who all makes an appearance, but it isn’t just Vader. The kids are called on to use the force and work together, as well as individually getting to fight the villains.
Be sure to get the photo pass card from the photographer. Each line of kids gets a different photographer and different photo pass card. The front row of kids (from the circles) goes to the upper level stage and the back row of kids goes to the lower stage. Parents and viewers stand against the rope to watch the show.
The stage is in a very open area with no shade. We had a morning time slot and my kids were on the lower stage. To look up to the temple was challenging. I made sure they were wearing their sunglasses, even though it isn’t my favorite when it comes to photos.
At the end of the show, each participant receives a JEDI TRAINING pin (a large one, not the trading pin kind). It is a great experience and not one to miss.
The Star Wars Launch Bay
The Launch Bay is home to a theater, galleries and exhibits, meet and greets with favorite (and non-favorite) characters and trading with the Jawas. It also has a Star Wars store for the fan looking to pick up some new gear. Here is what to expect for each part.
The 10 Minute Behind-The-Scenes Movie: Dan and my son went and saw this short film and really enjoyed it. It reminded Dan of the longer feature on the making of Star Wars that comes with the boxed set of movies.
Good To Know: The Star Wars characters do NOT sign autographs. They only know the Star Wars realm.
Meet & Greet with Chewbacca: This was probably my most favorite Meet & Greet of the entire trip. There is something super cool about stepping into the same room as Chewbacca and giving him a hug. It was surreal and so fun.
Good to Know: Our waits to meet Chewbacca and Kylo Ren were amazingly short. We arrived early at the park as mentioned, signed up for Jedi Training and then went straight to the Launch Bay. The crowds were low at this point and lines were short. It was awesome!
Meet & Greet with Kylo Ren: Oh boy. This guy. Kylo Ren is in character all the way. He storms around the room. He is not friendly. He is awkward to be around. We had the most uncomfortable 30-45 second stare down which resulted in my 7 year old daughter hiding behind me. This is what comes about when meeting such a villian.
Good To Know: Unfortunately, we did not have the best experience with Kylo Ren in that he refused to take a photo with my son alone. Rather, he told us multiple times, “Leave quickly.” I have spoken with Disney about this in that we purchased the Memory Maker and a character’s refusal to take a photo with a child doesn’t quite meet my happy Disney expectations. Hopefully, your encounter with Kylo Ren will be less awkward. But just in case, I wanted you to know. Thankfully, my son wasn’t disappointed. We were able to play it off in talking about how mean Kylo Ren was and wasn’t that just crazy?!
Meet & Greet with BB-8: BB-8 was not doing Meet & Greets at the time our trip, but I hear he is now. This would be such a fun meet & greet. If you see him, leave a comment below and tell us how it went.
Update: Disney has removed the Jawas from Hollywood Studios. I have yet to hear if they will be returning. It was such a fun meet and greet so I hope they will come back at some point.
Trading with Jawas: At different times throughout the day, two Jawas will be in the Cantina room trading with guests. They made their appearance at 9am when we were there (even on an Extra Magic Hour morning).
There are no lines for Jawas. You simply approach them and offer a trade or snap a photo.
Good To Know: If you don’t have something the Jawas want, they WILL NOT trade. On our first try, the Jawas would not trade with my son. We had brought Star Wars temporary tatoos and a pen. And while the Jawa looked at everything, he shook his head no and moved on.
I asked a Cast Member what they like and he told me Jawas like shiny, sparkly or glowing things. If you have your phone out near them, they will grab it.
So on our next visit to Hollywood Studios, I brought glow sticks and my daughter successfully traded for an R2 part. It was so fun and became one of our favorite things to do.
Now, I will warn you that as dusk approaches, I saw several kids trying to trade glow sticks and either the Jawas weren’t interested at that point or they had run out of their own items to trade. My kids later decided simply to give their glow sticks to the Jawas and were received with warm hugs (which completely thrilled them). It was sweet.
Used with permission: Jedi94 at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Star Tours – The Adventure Continues:
Star Tours is a 3D, motion-simulated space flight (and currently, the only Star Wars “ride”). I have never done it because I get motion-sick, but my husband and kids love it. There are multiple story combinations so it is likely that each experience will be different.
The March of the Storm Troopers:
At set times throughout the day, the dark side music will play and the Storm Troopers will march through the center of the park. It is ominous but fun. Check the program guide or the large screen near the stage for times.
I especially enjoyed the random Storm Troopers moving through the park. I stopped to take a photo of one very close to me and he replied in typical Storm Trooper voice, “You’re welcome, Citizen” as if he had done me a great favor.
Star Wars, A Galaxy Far Far Away (Daytime Show):
At this show, many characters come out and make an appearance. There really isn’t a story-line, rather it feels more like an introduction to the characters. Even so, the show is a must-do. You’ll see photos and movie clips on the large screens and enjoy various special effects with each character. Check the program guide for show times.
The Path of the Jedi Movie:
Dan took both kids to see this 10-minute short film and it really needs a SPOILER ALERT warning. My daughter learned things she did not know because she has not yet seen many of the movies. My husband probably enjoyed the behind-the-scenes short film better than this one. The Path of the Jedi was mostly movie clips that quickly took you through the Star Wars saga.
The Star Wars Galactic Spectacular:
If I could do one big thing again at Hollywood Studios, it would be to see this firework, laser and special effect show again. It was truly spectacular.
This show involves large screens and makes use of Grauman’s Chinese Theater (The Great Movie Ride). If you want to see the theater and screens, you need to be somewhere on Hollywood Boulevard. If you want the best seat and to feel like you are in the middle of the action, stand between the stage and the gray/beige pillars. You will be caught up in the dog fights with lasers shooting above your head and so much more. It is awesome!!
Disney is working on a Star Wars land, what will be its largest single-theme expansion (14-acres) to a Disney park. From their site: “The massive new land will transport you to a never-before-seen planet—a remote trading port that acts as one of the last stops before wild space—where Star Wars characters and stories come to life.” It should be complete in 2019.
If you are looking something above and beyond to interest your young rebel, guests at Disney Resort hotels can book an “augmented-reality, smartphone mission to defeat the Empire.” It is very pricey but I am sure it exceeds all expectations. Learn more here.
Have you visited Hollywood Studios? Ask your questions or tell us about your experience in the comments below.
Of all the Mother’s Day gifts I have received from my kids, my favorites have always centered around handwritten notes or creations my children have made. Today, I am sharing a super simple, yet thoughtful gift idea for kids to make for Mother’s Day.
The added bonus? You probably have most of the materials at home. I only spent a couple bucks! Join me at Motherhood On A Dime where I am sharing the tutorial.
Happy Spring! We may have had 12″ inches of snow just two weeks ago in Ohio, but it is officially spring time. Let’s celebrate!
This month, I have a fun spring placemat printable for your kitchen table. Print it, invite your child to draw, color and fill it out, and then laminate it for a special place at your table.
Find out what you need to know and grab the free printable at Motherhood On A Dime where I am guest posting.
Putting together a great gift basket takes more than throwing a couple items in a container. Today, I am sharing some awesome tips that will help you build a beautiful basket and more than 65 theme ideas for inspiration.
My friend, Tara, makes amazing gift baskets. Seriously, they are gorgeous (and I wish I had pictures to show you!). For my bridal, baby shower and every other shower she has been a part of, Tara puts together 3-5 baskets as prizes for guests to take home. They are the kind you pine over, hoping you’ll win. For this post, I picked her brain for her best tips on creating the perfect gift basket.
Tips for Building a Great Gift Basket
1. Plan ahead, if possible. If you know your theme for the basket, shop early and keep your eyes open for items on sale. Can you shop after a holiday when things are marked down? Look at clearance items and use coupons when possible. I love the site and app, Retail Me Not, for grabbing a coupon while waiting in line to check out. I have also started using Ebates and am earning cash back for online purchases. It is amazing what you can find in the online clearance section at deep discount. Why not earn cash back at the same time?
(I found the white solar lantern below for $5 in Kohl’s online clearance department and in-store pickup made it free shipping.)
2. Think outside the basket. There are many kinds of containers you can use for your gift basket; you don’t need to stick with a traditional basket. Think fun bowls, collanders, pots and skillets for kitchen, food or baking themes. Laundry baskets or cleaning buckets are great for college students and new homeowners. Try toy carts or wagons for kids’ gifts. Large glass jars with lids also look fun when holding many small items. Vintage crates or items for home decor also prove to be interesting containers.
Stroll around the store and use your imagination. Take into consideration the weight of what you will put in the basket and if the base of the container is wide enough to be supportive.
3. Build up your base. When you are creating a gift basket, the items look best when elevated in the container as opposed to sitting low in the basket. There are a couple ways to achieve this. If your container is shallow, bubble wrap, tissue paper, crumbled newspaper and basket filler work great.
I buy basket filler regularly from the Dollar Tree and on clearance at Walmart after Easter when they mark down more than just the Easter basket grass. I have found some pretty pink and blue shredded paper at amazing prices.
If you are using a deeper container, then you can also use boxes to build up the height. For the summer entertaining basket above, I used the box from the mason jar mugs. It was perfect and a win-win in case the recipient wanted to store the mugs in the box.
For these kids’ farmer carts, I wanted tall items to stand upright, so I used a box and poked holes for my items. It held them up quite well!
4. Select a variety of gift items in size and texture. Create interest in your gift basket by using an assortment of colors, textures, and sizes. I always love throwing in an extra small item or two to fill empty space. See the bird in this basket below . . . so cute!
5. Put your tall items in the back. Give all of your items a chance to be seen by working the smaller items in the front and the taller items in the back.
6. Keep your items secured. Glue dots, skewers, even straws can help you keep flimsy items in their place.
7. Put something inside the glass jars, mugs or beverage containers. Tara suggests adding a little basket filler or other item to the inside of glass in your gift to give it depth.
8. If you’re going to wrap . . . Not all gift baskets need to be wrapped. If you are trying to dress it up, wrap your basket in cellophane and attach a pretty bow. When you are tying off the cellophane, use ribbon or a pipe cleaner and then give the cellophane a tug to get it taut. Don’t want a bow? On a more rustic basket, I used rafia and a large wood button as a focal point to tie off the top of the cellophane.
Tulle is another option for wrapping your basket and securing everything in place. With tulle, there are so many color options and it is fairly inexpensive.
Theme Ideas for Gift Basket Inspiration:
- Coffee Lover
- Italian Dinner
- Ice Cream Sundae with Fixin’s
- Mexican Fiesta
- Wine Lover
- Chinese Food
- Feeling Snacky (a fun assortment of snacks)
- Gluten-Free Treats
- Kitchen Basket (any tools for cooking)
- Cupcakes and/or Baking
- Cake Decorating
- Gourmet Snacks
- Tea Lovers
- Lemonade (include a cool beverage dispenser)
- Campfires (S’mores)
- Candy Galore
- Breakfast in Bed
- Hot Cocoa
- New Home (cleaning supplies or localrestaurant menus with gift cards)
- New Baby
- New College Student (Laundry supplies)
- “Elf” Basket (the movie and Buddy’s four favorite food groups)
- First Car (gadgets and cleaning supplies)
- Anniversary Love
- New Pet
I put this basket together for our friends’ new dog. I customized the crate with her name using vinyl and my cameo.
- Summer Fun
- Movie Themed
- Sports (Football, Basketball, Baseball, Soccer)
- Team-Specific (everything from a favorite sports team)
- Blue Without You Care Package
- You Bring Sunshine to My Life (filled with all yellow items)
- Color-Specific (filled with fun or edible items in one color)
- Date Night
- Local Goods (items made by local companies)
- Game Night
- Any Seasonal Basket!
- Camping Fun
- Lottery Tickets
- Book Lovers
- Hunting, Fishing, Outdoors
- Party Basket (stocked with fun plates, napkins and decorations)
- Teacher’s Favorites
- Laundry Themed (with a favorite or homemade detergent)
- Road Trip
This local goods basket was filled with items made by local companies . . . from syrup and maple candy, chocolate and popcorn, to apple butter and apples from a local orchard.
Ladies & Girls:
- Cake Decorating
- Coloring Basket (with fun pencils, pens and coloring book)
- Stamp Lover
- Jewelry Making Supplies
Are you feeling inspired? What kind of gift basket will you make? If you have other theme ideas, please share in the comments below.
Disclosure: This post contains my referral and affiliate links.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyTuesdayValentine #CollectiveBias
It was a blind date 15 years ago.
A date I agreed to reluctantly.
A date that turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.
So into the foyer of my mom’s house stepped this super tall guy, a whole head above my own (and I have always been considered tall for most girls). Little did I know where it would all lead . . . a match, a marriage, two kids, and doing faith, family and life together.
This past December, I was listening to a radio talk show and the host asked his audience to think about who, in the past year, had made you a better person. There was no question of the first person I thought of . . . my husband, Dan. He is kind, funny, generous and hard working. He is filled with faith, character and integrity and causes me to be a better version of myself. He is my valentine. He is my love.
Since Valentine’s Day is only a few weeks away (on a Tuesday this year), I knew I needed to start thinking of something special for my husband. I decided this year, I would use an arrow theme. You know I can’t resist themes! I would make cute arrows to attach to Dan’s gift. And even cooler, having already selected this theme, I was super excited when I found this American Greetings card at the store. Arrows!! Plus a beautiful and sincere message.
I love how a card is a simple way to connect with those you love. Life is pretty complicated. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be. This year, be sure to tell that special someone just how much they mean to you.
Need help thinking of what to write in a Valentine’s Day card? Check out this post from American Greetings. They are working to make the world a more thoughtful and caring place. And they don’t just have paper cards, check the American Greetings site to pick up fun printables to help you manage your February calendar and shopping list. I’ll show you at the end of the post how I am using their 8×10 printable.
For today’s tutorial, I will be showing you how to make these sweet valentine arrows in two different styles. Do one. Do both. They look perfect tied to a pretty box with Valentine’s wrapping paper.
What You’ll Need:
- Patterned paper straws
- Card Stock (red for the arrow and a scrap piece for a template)
- Red Tissue Paper
- Crafting knife
When I was shopping at the store, I also grabbed the wrapping paper for my husband’s gift. I wanted to be sure it coordinated well with my arrows. The red wrapping paper was perfect but I couldn’t resist buying the heart paper as well. Isn’t it adorable?
How to Make DIY Valentines Arrows
Cut out a triangular piece of card stock as a template for your arrow tip. Then trace the template on red card stock as many times as you need.
Cut out the arrow tips and set aside.
Next, create a template for the tail (Tail Style #1). I hand-drew the shape and then cut out four sheets for each arrow. Save yourself a little time and cut through the entire stack of tissue paper for multiple arrows.
Separate the pieces so that you have piles of two sheets each. One stack will be for the top of the tail and the other for the bottom.
Add a line of glue as shown above.
Lightly press the straw on to one of the stacks.
Then follow with the other side, covering the straw. In the event that the glue doesn’t press through to the second piece of tissue paper on a particular side, just add a dab of glue to hold it down as well.
To finish up this tail, cut slits on each side of the tissue paper.
Tail Style #2: Cut a full stack of tissue paper (opening the package and unfolding, but not separating any sheets). I cut the length to be about 3.5″ and the width was just over 3″ or simply what was between the creases on the tissue paper.
Cut even slits in the tissue paper, taking care not to go too close to the top.
Add a line of glue along the top.
Then, roll the straw in the tissue paper. Wipe any excess glue that squeezes out at the end.
Separate the tissue paper to fluff the tail.
Now that all our ends are done, let’s move on to finishing the tip.
With a crafting knife, cut a slit in the middle of the top of the straw. Before you cut the straw for Tail Style #1, be sure that the tail is lying flat on the table and cut the slit parallel to the table. This will allow for your tip and tail to both lay flat on your gift. For the fringe–wrapped arrow, it does not matter.
Slide the arrow tip into the slit.
The arrows are now complete!
When I began to wrap my husband’s gift I had forgotten that the packaging said the wrapping paper was reversible! Aren’t the stripes fun?
I used bakers twine to tie my arrows to the gift and added a little note to carry through my theme.
Now of course, I couldn’t only pick up one card, I also wanted to buy my sweet kiddos cards to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Here are my picks:
I know my daughter will love the butterflies and sweet message, and my son will think the punch-out airplane is super cool.
As I mentioned earlier, Americans Greetings also has cute (and free) printables to help with your February celebration. Be sure to check them out!
- Printable Shopping list with tear-off “loves notes” perfect for leaving around the house, in lunch boxes, etc.
- Mobile/desktop wallpaper (to keep Valentine’s Day top-of-mind)
- Printable 8×10 Valentine’s Day frame-worthy quote
- Printable February calendar
See below how I am using the 8×10 printable in my Valentine’s Day decor.
How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day? Check out American Greetings for more inspiration or click here to find a store near you that sells American Greetings products.
Hop out of the car. Put it on the front porch. Ring the doorbell and RUN!
These were the instructions I gave my kids when we delivered this hot chocolate basket to our friends’ front porch. I had backed my car into their drive for a quick getaway. However, the execution of our plan wasn’t quite that simple. It involved a lot of heat of the moment questioning on whether my daughter pushed the doorbell hard enough and then massive yelling with my son telling her to RUN and her yelling that THE BOY was COMING to the DOOR.
It was complete chaos and it was wonderful!
We love being able to be a blessing (and create a little family fun) for others. I am always looking for ways to teach my kids kindness, thoughtfulness and service. And since the cold weather has arrived, we made this hot chocolate basket for friends.
Would you like to make your own snowy Doorstep Hot Chocolate Basket? See how I made it and grab the free printable tag on Motherhood On A Dime where I am guest posting today.