December 6, 2016
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3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques for Gifts (and Budgets!) of All Sizes

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly! #ad @walmart

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WrapGiveRepeat #CollectiveBias

Everyone loves to receive a beautifully wrapped gift. When you take the time to wrap a gift creatively, it shows that you really care! If I spend time carefully shopping for just the right thing, I also want to take the time to wrap the gift perfectly as well. It makes my recipient feel so special when they say, “This is for ME?!”

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Gift wrapping something in a truly special way doesn’t require expensive gift bags or elaborate decor.  Are you ready to Wrap.Give.Repeat? Let me show you my simple gift wrapping techniques for gifts of all sizes.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques

I have three special gift wrapping techniques I’d love to share. One is a pleated technique that’s really sophisticated. I also like to make gift bags with wrapping paper and tape for odd-shaped gifts. Third, I always use my leftover scraps of wrapping paper to make curled bows that coordinate.

I popped in to the Walmart at my local mall to pick up a Scotch® Gift Wrap Tape 3 Pack Caddie and Scotch® Brand Multi-Purpose Scissors. These items were located with the greeting cards and office supplies.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

I like to stock up on Scotch® Brand wrapping products so when I’m in a wrapping frenzy on Christmas Eve, there’s no chance of running out! With the 50% bonus and Rollback pricing at Walmart, there’s no reason not to stock up and save. Plus my preschooler has been in a bit of “go crazy with the tape on everything” phase and has pretty much depleted every roll I had in the house!

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Best Results Tips

Before you pull out the gifts, be sure to have these things ready to go!

Lots of room – Time to clear off your craft table or invade the dining room! Give yourself plenty of space to spread out. Resist the urge to wrap on the floor (your back and knees will thank me later).

Thick, high-quality wrapping paper – You will not get the best results if you’re using thin paper that tears easily. But it doesn’t mean you have to indulge in expense; I pick up my wrapping papers the year before on clearance (I bought these last year at 75% off, for about a dollar per roll!) Choose paper that has the square inches lined on the back so you can cut the pieces straight.

A pair of sharp scissors – Leave the utility shears in the kitchen and purchase a pair of dedicated gift wrap scissors to keep in the craft caddy. Scotch® Brand Multi-Purpose Scissors glide right through the wrapping paper, so you’ll have perfectly straight lines and crisp edges.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

A gift wrapping caddy -Inexpensive and handy, a caddy will keep all your wrapping supplies like Scotch® Brand Gift Wrap Tape, scissors, ribbon and gift tags all in one place so you can grab & go when you’re ready to wrap!

Special gift toppers – While at Walmart I wanted to find some cute package toppers and there were SO many to choose from! I actually found these in the section designated for decorating mini Christmas trees. I just thought they were adorable and the price was certainly right. I’ll be able to decorate every single gift under the tree with a mini ornament that can be saved or reused on another gift.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Technique #1 – The Pleated Box

My sister-in-law introduced me to a very chic wrapping technique that incorporates pleated folds in the wrapping paper to create an elegant look to each box. This works best on a flat box. You might want to use a bone folder and ruler for perfectly straight and crisp edges, though I was able to just eyeball it myself.

  • Wrap the box as usual.
  • Cut a coordinating strip of paper that will be pleated and wrapped around the box.
  • Fold the paper in half lengthwise (wrong sides together). Then turn the crease to one side to create a pleat.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

  • Repeat the pleating several times, alternating sides. I created just three pleats but you can make as many or as few as you wish.
  • Wrap the pleated paper around the box and match up the edges (trim them a bit if needed to help them line up neatly).
  • Secure the seam with a long strip of Scotch® Brand Gift Wrap tape.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

The pleated wrap is an elegant and unique look that only requires a simple bow topper. I can’t wait to gift this one to my Mom!

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Technique #2 – The Odd Shaped Gift

Making gift bags with sturdy wrapping paper for oddly shaped items is actually quicker and easier than people think (and your handcrafted bag will look so much prettier than gift bags that have been used and reused a dozen or more times!)

  • Take the odd shaped gift and lay it on the paper to get an idea how long to cut the paper. Add at least an inch for an overlap.
  • Determine the center of the piece of paper (lengthwise). Bring the two ends of paper into the middle, overlapping.
  • Crease the outside edges of the paper to make it flat.
  • Now determine the width of the bottom of the bag. Fold up the bottom edge of the paper and place the bottom of the gift on top to determine how much to fold the edge (add about an inch or so on each side).

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

  • Open up the folded bottom and use Scotch® Brand Gift Wrap tape to close the lengthwise seam of the bag.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

  • Bend up the bottom of the bag at the crease. Press gently on each side and the paper will flatten itself into two triangle shapes, one on each side.
  • Use your fingers to flatten the creases.
  • Take the pointed edge at the top and bottom of each triangle and fold it down a few inches.
  • Use Scotch® Brand Gift Wrap tape along all seams to secure the bottom of the bag.
  • Open the bag from the top flatten out the bottom.
  • Insert the gift to determine the height of the finished bag. Trim off any excess paper from the top of the bag, then fold the top of the bag down and secure with Scotch® Brand Gift Wrap tape.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Keep reading on how to make the scrappy bow to decorate your bag!

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Technique #3 – The Scrappy Bow

What to do with those strange long strips of wrapping paper that are leftover? I like to use every bit of extra wrapping paper so I use these leftover strips to make whimsical scrappy bows. I curl the sturdy wrapping paper with the blade of my Scotch® Brand Multi-Purpose Scissors and then use Scotch® Brand Gift Wrap tape to piece the bow together! It’s fun to coordinate the wrapping paper on the box to the wrapping paper bows. They really make a bold statement!

  • Collect coordinating strips of wrapping paper.
  • On either end cut into the strip, cut narrow strips that are about 1″ wide. Leave a center section (about 1″) that is uncut.
  • Hold the base of each narrow strip firmly. Open your scissors to expose the blade and run the edge along the underside of the strip of paper (just like you would with curling ribbon). Move slowly and adjust your pressure so as not to tear the paper.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

  • Coax the curl into place with your fingers. You may need to repeat the process on the same strip if the paper doesn’t curl the first time.
  • Fold the bow in half and then in half again.
  • Gently shake out the bow to loosen the curls and you can arrange them or trim them as needed.
  • Add smaller pieces in coordinating papers by cutting, curling and taping them inside the first bow.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Tape the bow to the package. For more depth, add a length of curling ribbon and a mini ornament to complete the bow!

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

#WrapGiveRepeat

This holiday season Scotch® Brand will be donating $200,000 to Fisher House, a charity that provides a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. When making your seasonal donations, consider a donation to Fisher House via this link.

Are you a “Most Gifted Wrapper” with awesome gift wrapping techniques? How will you #WrapGiveRepeat this year?

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December 5, 2016
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Taking Special Holiday Photos at Disneyland Resort

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Taking Holiday Photos at Disneyland

While visiting the Disneyland Resort over the holiday season, there’s just so much to see, do and eat to celebrate the season! Whether you want to share them on social media, use them for a Christmas card or save them in a memory album, there are lots of sweet places and things to photograph at Disneyland during the holidays. Capture those memories with these must-do tips for taking holiday photos at Disneyland.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing Christmas must dos at Disney.


Christmas Trees

The Disneyland Christmas tree towers over Main Street U.S.A. and is decorated with over-sized ornaments that look like classic toys. Take a full shot of it and then move closer to capture individual ornaments on the tree.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

A photo with the family is a must and there are many PhotoPass photographers standing here to snap a shot. This line moves quickly since they pose families around the entire circumference of the tree. We were able to use this photo for our Christmas card this year!

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass

The Holiday Treats

Eat all the treats! But first…take a photo of them. Capture the moment just before you bite into that soft gingerbread cookie or take a sip from your holiday eggnog. Unwrap your treat and take a snap of it in front of a favorite attraction (much better than a photo of it laying on the plate). Or hand it over to your child and photograph them nibbling, even cuter! Don’t want to indulge? Snap a photo of the sweet treats in the case or shop windows.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort   Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Draped in icicles and snow, the iconic castle is dressed up for winter. Take a few photos of the castle alone and also with your family posed in front. I like to take photos with the family from the pathway on the right-hand side. Foot traffic is lighter than directly in front and you won’t have anyone else in the background.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Favorite Characters

Even the characters get into the seasonal spirit with costumes that reflect the holidays. I recommend arriving at rope drop to catch the “Fab 5″ in the hub of Main Street U.S.A. and catch photos with them all. We took this one with Donald a few years ago next to the Cove Bar (don’t you love the snowflakes on his outfit?)

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Seasonal Landscapes

I adore the care and thoughtfulness of the landscaping and flowers that are updated with the seasons. Christmas at Disneyland brings amazing arrangements like these bright poinsettias on Main Street U.S.A.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Themed Land Decor

Christmas in New Orleans? A wacky holiday in Toontown? A bright splash of Latin American festivities? Even Cars Land revs up the holiday decor! Take a wide angle shot of the decorations and then capture close ups to see the thoughtful detail that goes into keeping the theme of each area.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass

Seasonal Ride Overlays

Haunted Mansion Holiday, it’s a small world – Holiday and Jingle Cruise have seasonal overlays that disappear shortly after the new year. The details in each attraction are fantastic so don’t miss photographing everything both inside and out.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Christmas Fantasy Parade

This classic parade is chockful of sweet holiday memories you’ll want to capture. Dancing reindeer, gingerbread cookies and of course, Santa and Mickey as well. We stood in the it’s a small world – holiday area and it was an ideal backdrop for taking pictures of this colorful parade.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Hotel Lobby Decor

Take a walk over to the hotels of the Disneyland resort and be rewarded with decor galore! We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel several years ago and walked inside each of the towers to check out the themed trees inside the lobbies.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

A stop inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is both a visual and aromatic treat; a larger-than-life replica of the hotel in gingerbread is set up here and it smells delicious! Take a shot of the towering Christmas tree in the lobby and the rustic garlands hung throughout. Ride up the elevator to the second floor and capture an overhead view of the lobby in full holiday dress.

Santa

Naturally our favorite elf is greeting guests at the Happiest Place and there are several spots to find him. At Disneyland he’s in Critter Country. In Disney California Adventure park, we had a visit in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Santa will also be visiting at the hotels of the Disneyland resort at special times over the winter season.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass

During our recent visit, there was a “Nice List” book set up on a table where my son wrote in the names of our entire family. What a precious memory I was able to capture as he carefully noted each of us in Santa’s special book!

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Save Those Memories

Please note that I use affiliate links in the following section. If you click & purchase through the link you help me in a small financial way, thank you!

Don’t let those beautiful holiday pictures sit unseen in your camera or computer; get them printed out so everyone can see. I love Shutterfly for the versatility of their products as well as their great prices. I’ve been purchasing from Shutterfly for a very long time and am happy to have them as an affiliate partner. They are always having great sales and offer coupons as well.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Consider adding your Disneyland holiday photos to a calendar, ornament or a seasonal canvas that you display along with your decorations each winter. I’ve already ordered my Shutterfly Christmas cards, featuring our family photo in front of the Disneyland Christmas tree!

If you want to capture crisp and clean images but the budget isn’t ready for the investment of a new camera, consider renting your gear pre-vacation from my affiliate BorrowLenses. You can rent just a lens, camera or the entire kit to take with you on vacation. I borrowed a lens before my trip to Europe several years ago and was thrilled with the images I captured on a lens I wouldn’t have been able to purchase outright.

What are your Disney Christmas must-dos? Share in the comments!

For Disney Parks Christmas must dos,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Christmas Must Dos at Disney Loop:

December 2, 2016
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Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

How to Add a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

How to Add a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Christmas is a magical time, of course. And what makes it even more sweet is adding a touch of Disney magic to your holidays. Whether it’s in the house decorations, the Christmas tree or even in the kitchen, Disney fan welcome a generous helping of pixie dust in everything they do! Here are my ideas for adding Disney magic to your Christmas.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and purchasing through these links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Disney Details for the Home

Fill the house with Christmas cheer, Disney-style! This personalized Christmas tree skirt has a cute retro look. These clever Holiday Mugs hold milk and have a slot underneath for your cookie! And when it’s time to cuddle up with a favorite movie, this Mickey & Minnie Fleece Throw will keep you cozy.

 

 

Deck the Tree with Disney Ornaments

We’ve been collecting Disney ornaments for the Christmas tree since I was a little girl. It’s fun to pick them up while on vacation as a memento of your trip. Choose an ornament that reminds you of a special time (like the first spin on the Mad Tea Party teacups) or holds a cherished photo from that time you met your first Disney princess. I adore this Fantasyland Castle Ornament, a perfect blend of the parks along with good cheer for the holidays!

Hallmark Teacup for Two Mickey and Minnie Mouse Ornament and Hallmark 2016 Disney Princesses Photo Holder Holiday Ornament

Bake Disney-inspired Holiday Treats

Make anything Mickey shaped or that has Mouse Ears and my kids think it’s fantastic! Here are some simple recipes that can be tweaked just a bit to make them “Disney” including these Mouse Ears Snowman Cookies from Family.com and Mouseketeer Gingerbread Cookies from the Disney Food Blog. It wouldn’t be too difficult to make Rice Krispies treats like this Mickey shaped one I had at the Disneyland Resort. I have more Christmas recipe ideas on this post.

Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas      Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Cook up Disney Magic in the Kitchen

This cookbook is very merry and full of Disney fun for the holidays! A Merry Christmas Cookbook is geared for kids to cook under adult supervision with holiday recipes inspired by favorite characters. For more discerning tastes, try the The Ultimate Disney World Cookbook with over 300 recipes from Disney parks restaurants. Serve up those Disney delights (or cookies for Santa!) on these adorable Mickey & Friends Plates from the DisneyStore.

    

Decorate the Yard Top to Bottom

Bright and colorful, these Disney yard decorations let everyone in the neighborhood know your love for the Mouse! We love to walk through our neighborhood and look at the holiday decorations and my kids always love when someone has Disney inspired decor. I want one of these Disney Mickey Mouse Ears LightShow Swirling Multicolor LED Christmas Spotlight Projectors so much! Paired with the Inflatable LED Mickey and Minnie’s Sled Scene, you’ll have a house that all the kids will want to see each night. Hang this cheery winter Disney Parks Holiday flag all winter long!

How do you add Disney magic to your Christmas? Share with me in the comments!

Julie-signature

November 21, 2016
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Peppermint Mickey Holiday T-Shirt Disney DIY

Disney DIY Craft for Kids - Peppermint Mickey Holiday T-shirt

Looking for a unique and adorable Mickey holiday T-Shirt to wear to the parks this season? Or just something fun to add a bit of Disney magic to your at-home holidays? I whipped this one up for my son in about 30 minutes and you can too, it’s really easy!

I think this design would be really cute for the entire family to wear at Disney during the holiday season. I made this on Friday night and my son wore it Saturday when we celebrated #DisneylandHolidays! He received so many compliments on it (even from Santa’s elves!)

Disney DIY Craft for Kids - Peppermint Mickey Holiday T-shirt

You’ll only need a few things to create this Peppermint Mickey Holiday T-shirt!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking and purchasing through these links will help me in a small financial way, thank you!

Solid color cotton t-shirt (like American Apparel Childrens/Kids Plain T-Shirt)

White cotton fabric (I always use Kona Cotton White Fabric)

Fabric Adhesive (I only use Thermoweb Heat’n Bond Ultra Hold Iron-On Adhesive)

Red fabric paint & a paintbrush (I use DecoArt SoSoft Fabric Paint and Martha Stewart Crafts Detailing Brushes)

Disney DIY Craft for Kids - Peppermint Mickey Holiday T-shirt

Other things you’ll need:

A print out of a Mickey silhouette. I just did a Google search and found one online.

Iron

Sewing machine with white thread

Disappearing Ink Pen for Fabric

Instructions:

Prewash and dry the t-shirt and white fabric, then iron both smooth.

peppermintcollage1

Lay Heat’n Bond adhesive on the Mickey silhouette (bumpy side down) and trace the shape.

Cut around the Heat’n Bond silhouette, then iron onto the white fabric.

Cut out the silhouette carefully on the line.

Peel off the adhesive backing and center the shape onto the t-shirt. Once you have it in position, iron/press according to the Heat’n Bond instructions.

peppermintcollage2

On your sewing machine, sew along the scant edge of the silhouette to secure the design to the t-shirt.

peppermintcollage3

To recreate the peppermint design, I did a Google search for “peppermint candy” and found a simple image. Using your disappearing ink pen, carefully replicate the design on to the large circle of Mickey’s silhouette. Repeat the design inside each of the smaller circles of Mickey’s ears.

peppermintcollage4

Using red fabric paint, paint the peppermint design. Use a thicker brush to fill in the design and a small, thin brush along the edges to create a clean edge.

Keep the shirt flat for at least 12 hours to dry.

DIY Craft for Kids - Peppermint Mickey Holiday T-shirt

Ta-da! A quick and adorable holiday Mickey design that will add a sparkle of Disney magic to your holidays! (Even if your mom poses you for photos on Main Street U.S.A. and all you really want to be doing is going on the Matterhorn Bobsleds…sorry kid!)

Disney DIY Craft for Kids - Peppermint Mickey Holiday T-shirt

“Enough pictures, Mom…let’s go to the Matterhorn!”

Where will YOU wear your Peppermint Mickey DIY Holiday T-shirt?

Julie-signature


November 9, 2016
3 Comments

How Kids Can Save Money for Disney (+ Disney DIY Tutorial!)

Kids Can Save Money for Disney! Read the money saving tips & check out the DIY Disney Bank Tutorial

Saving money for a family vacation generally falls on parents who pitch in the big dollars, of course. But when it comes to nickels and dimes, there’s no reason that kids can’t jump on board too! Here are some ways that kids can save money for Disney so they’ll have spending cash for treats and souvenirs of their own. This quick Disney DIY bank tutorial will help them save their pennies!


Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing ways to save money for your Disney vacation.

Please note that there are affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through this link helps support me in a small financial way (thank you!)

Kids Can Save Money for Disney

Kids Can Save Money for Disney

By Doing Extra Chores

I believe that kids should pitch in on housework on a regular basis but for those chore that go “above and beyond”, I’m not above a bit of extra monetary compensation. A few bucks here and there for extra chores can add up in a kid’s Disney bank.

With Good Behavior/Good Grades

This one works especially well with little guys! I keep a good behavior chart for my preschooler in the two weeks leading up to the trip. This allows him 14 days to earn a little spending money based on good attitude and helpfulness around the house. For big kids, you could also reward good grades on a special pay scale, with bonuses for all As!

By Selling Something

Coordinate a yard sale as a family where the kids can sell their outgrown toys and/or clothing and earn a few dollars. Or set up an old fashioned lemonade stand or bake sale, though this is often more work for grown-ups involved!

Receiving Gifts

One of my kids favorite ways to save money for Disney trips is by saving monetary gifts given for birthdays and Christmas. If someone is planning on purchasing a gift for your child and asks what she’d like to receive, recommend a Disney gift card!

By Collecting Change

And here’s the perfect place to store all that loose change! Follow this easy DIY for create your own Disney vacation bank.

Kids Can Save Money for Disney

You can customize the bank with whatever Disney-themed charms you like. This DIY only cost me about $7 to make. I used a half price coupon from the craft store for the most expensive item. Or you can purchase them inexpensively on Amazon.

I purchased my supplies at Hobby Lobby. Here are similar items available at Amazon:

Wide Mouth Glass Mason Jar with Metal Lid,

Glitter Alphabet Sticker Letters

Disney Button Embellishments, Mickey And Minnie Glitter

Wish Lucky Charms

img_2925 img_2921 img_2920

These peel and stick letters have a cute sparkle stud detail. You can customize your jar with whatever lettering you want (the hardest part of this entire project is getting the letters straight!)

img_2931 img_2933

I found these inexpensive items including Mickey and Minnie buttons, metal “Wish” charms and sparkly dangles. Kids can loop the charms onto a length of narrow ribbon and tie it around the neck of the jar. There are enough charms in each package to make several banks, so they would really be a great gift for another Disney-loving family!

Kids Can Save Money for Disney

I think this bank would be a great way to surprise the kids and let them know you’re planning a Disney vacation! 

For more ways to save money for your Disney vacation,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Saving Money for Disney Loop:

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November 8, 2016
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Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel Disneyland Vacation Giveaway!

Disneyland Vacation Giveaway at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

I’m already a fan of the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel near the Disneyland Resort. My family and I stayed here in early 2016 and found it to be a great fit for our large family. How would YOU like to win their Disneyland vacation giveaway? Read on for how to enter!

Disneyland Vacation Giveaway at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

Disneyland Vacation Giveaway at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

The Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel, the castle themed property on Disneyland Drive, is offering a vacation “fit for royalty” with the launch of the “Anaheim Majestic Family Giveaway.” The online contest includes a four-night stay for four, daily breakfast, four 2-Day Disney Resort Park Hopper® Passes — redeemable at both Disneyland® Park and Disney California Adventure®, four tickets to the Medieval Times Dinner at Buena Park, a $400 Visa gift card, and free parking at the resort. 

Disneyland Vacation Giveaway at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

Wow!! What a fantastic prize! Not only a stay at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel but dinner at nearby Medieval Times too! I wrote about both for Traveling Mom (click the links to read the reviews). Every entry will also receive a promo code for $20 off per night for a future stay at the hotel.

Disneyland Vacation Giveaway at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

Medieval Times Dinner Show

Enter on the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel website giveaway link HERE!

The contest runs Nov. 3 – Jan. 17, 2017, entrants must be 21 and older and only one entry per person. The winner will be chosen on Jan. 18, 2016. Rules for the giveaway are available on the site. 

I am not sponsoring this giveaway, just sharing! Good luck :)

Julie-signature

 

November 7, 2016
4 Comments

Holiday Gift Guide: Practical (But Fun!) Disney Gifts for Kids

Holiday Gift Guide: Practical (But Fun!) Disney Gifts for Kids

I’m all for fun, especially at Christmas, but I still like to purchase gifts for my kids that they’ll need and want! Nothing that will be “bottom of the toy box” for me; I want their gifts to be well used and well loved. These are my practical (but still fun!) Disney gifts for kids.

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing some ideas to get you started on your holiday shopping.


Holiday Gift Guide – Practical (But Fun!) Disney Gifts for Kids

Please note that I have affiliate links in this post. If you click and make a purchase, you help support me in a small financial way (thank you!)

Children’s Mealtime Items

My little ones always loved having their own set of dishes, cups and utensils that the big kids or grown ups didn’t use. Over the years I’ve found the best brand that holds up nicely over the years are made by Zak! Designs. We’ve had an it’s a small world set for the last 4 years and it still looks new (and I even run it through the dishwasher).

Zak’s Small World Round Divided Plates (Set of 2)

From left to right:

Zak! Designs Cars 3 Piece Meal Set

Zak Designs Disney Pixar Inside Out 3-Piece Plate, Bowl, and Tumbler Mealtime Set

Zak! Designs Mealtime Set-Disney Princess Sofia The First 6-Piece Set.

The addition of a place mat and utensils rounds out the set for complete meal-time fun!

Zak Design “Disney Princess” Kids Meal Time Plastic Placemat

Star Wars Lightsaber Flatware Utensil Set (Includes Luke Fork, Yoda Spoon, and Vader Knife)

Children’s Bedtime

If you know your kids need a bedding refresh, save the purchase and gift them a new bedding set for the holidays. You can go full out with a comforter, sheet set and pillows or piece it out as needed. A new pillowcase with a favorite Disney character (along with a new pillow) is always a welcome gift!

Disney Lion Guard Prideland Adventures 4 Piece Toddler Bedding Set

From left to right:

Disney Castle Custom Pillowcase

Disney/Pixar Finding Dory Pillowcase

4pc Disney Mickey Mouse Full Bed Sheet Set Chevron and Polka Dots

 

What other fun Disney touches could you add to their bedroom? How about a decorative pillow, pajamas or a lamp!

From left to right:

Disney Monster U Decorative Pillow

Disney Frozen Elsa Girl Nightgown Pajama

Disney Parks Exclusive Beauty and the Beast Light-Up Lumiere Candlestick Figure

 

And for sleepover fun, how about a new sleeping bag, nightlight and bedroom tent!

From left to right:
Disney Princess Little Mermaid Ariel Shimmer and Gleam Slumber-Bag

Disney Finding Dory 2-in-1 Projector and Night Light

Disney Princess Pop Up Castle Tent

Vacation Needs

Headed out on a magical vacation? The holidays is the best time to gift the kids with things they’ll need for the trip. Tweens and teen girls (and maybe even mom!) would love a Disney themed LeSportSac bag for holding all their vacation needs for a day in the Park.

LeSportsac Small Cleo Cross-Body Handbag, Mickey Loves Minnie

Consider other vacation items, like sunglasses, lip balm or a hat. These made nice stocking stuffers too!

From left to right: 

Disney Store Exclusive R2-D2 Sunglasses for Kids – Star Wars

Disney / Pixar Inside Out Inside Out Lip Balm Set

Big Hero Six Baymax Beanie Laplander

Toiletries

Toiletries are great stocking stuffers and my preschooler loves the Disney Magic Timer app. Upload the app to your smart phone or tablet and then with the purchase of specially marked toothbrushes, tooth paste and mouthwashs you’ll receive special content that will encourage longer brushing!

3pc Star Wars Oral Hygiene Set

3pc Disney Frozen Oral Hygiene Set

For more Holiday Gift Guides,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Black | Holiday Gift Guides Loop:

November 7, 2016
1 Comment

9 Practical Tips for Avoiding Illness at Home This Winter

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HealthySavings #CollectiveBias

9 Practical Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter #ad

With four young kids at home, it sometimes seems inevitable that someone is going to bring home a sickness and it will run rampant through the family. And medication, doctor’s visits, missed days at work and prescriptions just cost money that I’d rather be spending somewhere else! Fortunately we’ve been avoiding illness or at least nipping those coughs and sniffles quickly with a few easy tricks. Simple things like removing shoes before coming into the house, changing out of school clothing right away, hand washing and not sharing cups go a long way towards not spreading sickness. Walgreens is my go-to for all my winter stock-up items including Centrum® Silver® for Men or Women and ChapStick® Total Hydration.

9 Practical Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter

9 Practical Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter

Wash Your Hands

A no-brainer, right? Frequent hand washing is an ideal way to keep germs from transferring. Kids need LOTS of reminders for this one though. Wash your hands immediately upon coming home, before you touch anything. Wash your hands before cooking or eating. And certainly, wash your hands after using the toilet, coughing or sneezing.

No Sharing!

No sips from someone else’s cup or straw! No bites using someone else’s fork or spoon! Want to share an apple? Cut it in pieces so you aren’t biting from the same fruit. Eliminate the “Is this glass mine?” issue by giving each family member a labeled cup (either personalized with their name or with a particular image) so they won’t get mixed up.

9 Practical Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter

Remove Your Shoes

With a crawling baby in our house, keeping the floors clean is important to me. But even if you don’t have a little one on the floor, you’d be shocked to see how much dirt comes in to the house on the soles of your shoes. We remove our shoes every time we come inside. In fact, we don’t even keep the shoes inside the house anymore. They are all stored in bins on a shelving unit in the garage. We put our shoes on when we leave the house and wear slippers or socks inside during cool weather. Keeping shoes outside eliminates transferring bacteria onto the floors and helps keep the carpets looking new as well.

Change of Clothes

Another way we eliminate transferring of germs is by changing our clothes when we come home. When our kids have been at school or playing at the park, we have them take off dirty clothes, bathe and change into clean clothes. We don’t want germs that linger on clothes transferred to sofas, carpet or bedding! Dirty clothes are moved into the laundry room daily.

9 Practical Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter

Daily Cleaning

A daily cleaning doesn’t have to take long. We are able to tackle the basic jobs in about 30 minutes a day and have a very clean house. For most of our cleaning tasks we use distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle, Castile soap, baking soda and microfiber rags. Distilled white vinegar inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, and some bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella…plus it’s really inexpensive! Be sure to empty trashcans daily if a sick family member is filling them up with used tissues.

Wipe Down

Think about the hundreds of times things are touched in your home before they get cleaned. Use your vinegar spray to moisten a damp microfiber rag and wipe down doorknobs and light switches. Appliance handles, remote controls, cell phones and tablets too! Shake your computer keyboard out over the trash to remove crumbs and dust then carefully wipe the keys. Don’t forget to clean the mouse!

9 Practical Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter

Launder Linens & Towels

I wash sheets and pillowcases once a week, blankets every two weeks and comforters once a month. When we have someone who is under the weather, I have a more frequent routine of changing of their pillowcase and I refresh it every day, especially if they have a runny nose or cough (who wants to sleep on a snotty pillowcase, ewww!) Remove and wash sofa pillows as well if your family uses them to rest their head. I also change out the hand towel in the bathroom daily and if someone is already sick, they should use their own hand towel.

Quarantine

Despite all your efforts, sometimes someone just comes down with a resilient bug. To avoid illness from running through the family, move swiftly to contain it and quarantine the sickie!

9 Practical Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter

Last year as soon as we noticed that my son was coming down with a stomach bug, we immediately kept him separated from the rest of the family. This meant, he stayed in bed with the door shut so he could get plenty of rest. We kept him well-hydrated and I changed out and washed his bedding daily. So the illness wouldn’t spread, we didn’t allow the other children to go into the room. And each time I went in to help him, I would immediately wash my hands afterwards. We avoided anyone else catching the bug, hurrah!

Eat Well & Take Your Daily Vitamin

Oh sure, the holidays are coming and that means rich foods and extra dessert. You can still indulge on those special occasions but continue to fill yourself with healthy greens and lots of fresh fruit the rest of the time. I’m all about sneaking in the leftover greens into my breakfast smoothies. I just freeze the greens and stuff a handful into the blender cup. Add in almond milk and frozen fruit (I like pineapple, bananas and cranberries) and you won’t even taste the green stuff!

9 Practical Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter

I stopped off at Walgreens last week to pick up Centrum® Silver® for Women to give to my mom. Recommended for women 50+, Centrum Silver for women now has higher levels of Vitamin D3 (which is a preferred source of Vitamin D).

9 Practical Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter

9 Practical Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter

With an aunt who was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis, I appreciate that Centrum® Silver® for Women is specially formulated with nutrients to help support bone strength in women. *Use as Directed. Check your store for temporary price reductions as the prices are changing each week (it was on sale during my visit!)

9 Practical Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter

While I was a Walgreens I also stocked up on more ChapStick® Total Hydration. Here in SoCal, we move from sunburned lips in summer to dry lips in autumn from the hot winds and I was desperate for moisture! ChapStick® Total Hydration can be used everyday like “Skincare for lips™” to help moisturize and soften. *Use as Directed. I got two, one for my purse and one for my bedside table to apply before bed. What am I kidding though, my husband will probably snag both!

9 Practical Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter

How will you be prepping your family for avoiding illness this winter? Consider stocking up now on Centrum® Silver® for Men or Women and ChapStick® Total Hydration at Walgreens during their sale!

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

November 3, 2016
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Celebrating Christmas at Disneyland Resort

Insider tips on celebrating Christmas at Disneyland Resort

The Christmas season is a beautiful time of year and no better place in my opinion, to celebrate it than at Disneyland! From the dazzling holiday decor, spectacular entertainment, special holiday rides and attractions, it’s a fantastic time to visit. And you can still have all the usual Christmas fun, from presents to Santa!

Here’s all about celebrating Christmas at Disneyland!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort

Practical Pre-Vacation Holiday Season Advice

Planning a visit to Disneyland during the holiday season requires a certain amount of preparation that you might not need other times of the year. Normally you can just “wing it” at Disneyland but during the holidays you’ll definitely need to plan a bit more in regards to full-service dining, FastPasses and viewing shows.

Please read my post on TravelingMom, 11 Tips for Navigating Holiday Crowds at Disneyland. You’ll learn lots of holiday hacks on having the best visit despite the extra crowds.

Park Savers affiliate link

I also suggest pre-purchasing park tickets ahead of time to save time and money via ParkSavers (affiliate link).

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort

Park and Resort Decor

My most favorite part of visiting the Disneyland Resort during Christmas is seeing the detailed decorations that cover every corner! The resort hotels have special decor that’s worth checking out, including themed Christmas trees inside each of the Disneyland Hotel towers. As you walk from your Disneyland resort hotel through the Downtown Disney District, there are holiday decorations to get you in the mood.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort

Start off the day at Disneyland Park by posing in front of the huge Christmas tree in the Main Street U.S.A. square. Each Land has its own holiday themed decor, from rustic in Frontierland to tropical in Adventureland. Even Toontown gets an appropriate holiday splash of color that’s bright and festive, with lots of large ornaments and over-sized bows!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort

My favorite seasonal attraction is it’s a small world Holiday, when the facade is bejeweled with tiny colorful lights and our favorite clock dons a Santa hat! Even the ride inside receives an amazing holiday makeover with songs of the season and an entirely new look that celebrates the holidays in each country represented.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort

Be sure to return after dark: More than 300,000 lights glitter and every 15-minutes, the façade of the attraction is transformed with advanced 3D-projection technology.

Grab a FastPass for Haunted Mansion Holiday which receives new effects every year! It's a holiday season can't-miss and you should grab a FastPass early in the day.

Grab a FastPass for Haunted Mansion Holiday which receives new effects every year! It’s a holiday season can’t-miss and you should grab a FastPass early in the day.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort

At Disney California Adventure Park, the buildings around Buena Vista Street are decorated with 1920s-approprate garland and vintage-style ornaments. “a bug’s land” is decorated with giant Christmas lights and over-sized ornaments. This is a fun area any time of year but even more whimsical with the wildly-large decor!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort

Cars Land is amazing during the holidays with auto filter garlands, white-wall tire wreaths and a Christmas tree decked out in shiny hubcaps! And this cutie…a “snowcar” complete with top hat and pylon nose!

Grab a FastPass for Haunted Mansion Holiday which receives new effects every year! It's a holiday season can't-miss and you should grab a FastPass early in the day.

Presents & Gifts

Save space in your luggage by having gifts sent ahead to your hotel. Pre-order presents on Amazon and have them sent to you so they’re waiting at the hotel! Just make sure the address includes the word “Guest” on the front and the date of your arrival at the resort hotel. You’ll be able to pick up your boxes at mail services upon arrival.

While staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, you can also have packages delivered back to your hotel so you don’t have to tote them around the parks all day.

If you have family that will be at Disneyland and you want to send them a special something, contact Disney Floral & Gifts to order stockings stuffed with Disney goodies, delicious treats, or even a full “in-room celebration” with a bounty of gifts and delights. It’s a great way to show the kids that Santa didn’t forget them, even when they’re away from home!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort

Entertainment & Shows

New this year at Disney California Adventure Park is the Disney Festival of Holidays, a celebration of cultures and festivities from around the world. Guests will be able to make crafts and there will be an appearance by Disney’s newest princess, Elena of Avalor. Also new this year is World of Color – Season of Light! that will include classic Disney movie moments and holiday favorites.

The ever popular “A Christmas Fantasy” parade will return, with 100+ performers in the parade including Mickey,  Minnie and a special guest from the North Pole…Santa Claus!

Stay in the parks until dark and be rewarded with entertainment that lights up the night! Believe…In Holiday Magic, the fireworks spectacular will include more than 80,000 twinkling lights illuminating Sleeping Beauty Castle and a magical snowfall as well!

Be sure to watch Paint the Night parade on its final Disneyland run. Guest will be able to “see it again” on select nights during the holiday season.

Paint the Night - Disneyland's Nighttime Spectacular Parade

Meeting Santa and Other Characters

Greet the characters dressed up in their holiday finest on Main Street U.S.A. We always make a point to take pictures with our favorites first thing in the morning because this is a very popular feature during the holidays.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort

Meeting Santa is a magical part of Christmas and no more so than at Disneyland! This year Santa Claus will be meeting children at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at Disney California Adventure Park and in Critter Country at Disneyland Park.

What’s your favorite part of the holiday season at Disneyland? Share with me in the comments?

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October 28, 2016
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Preschoolers Guide to Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland

Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland is a preschooler’s dream come true! From the bright colors, whimsical buildings and playful attractions this fun area is great for everyone, but especially for kids aged 2-5.

My tweens can take it or leave it and they don’t ever really ask to go to Toontown. My preschooler on the other hand loves this quirky area and would enjoy spending a good chunk of the day exploring Toontown. So here’s my preschoolers guide to Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland, including where to visit, what to ride, where to play and what to eat!

Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland for Preschoolers

Toontown can be easy to miss unless you’re looking for it. It’s located all the way to the very back of Disneyland Park, past Fantasyland. The entrance to Toontown is located just under the train tracks to the left side of it’s a small world. Be sure to check out the Toontown population sign! You’ll dip below the tracks and then rise up into an entirely new Land, complete with rolling hills in the distance, Toontown sign (ala Hollywood!) and off-kilter buildings.

Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Roger Rabbit’s Car-Toon Spin

Walk straight forward and you’ll find Roger Rabbit’s Car-Toon Spin. Though this ride does offer a FastPass, this ride has a very cool interactive queue that is not to be missed. It’s worth the walk-through if you get a chance because the queue sets the stage for the ride and can help explain the movie to preschoolers who probably aren’t familiar with the plot (ie: “The Dip”!)

Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon SpinI is silly fun for everyone as there is no height requirement. This is combination dark ride (kind of like Monsters Inc Mike & Sully to the Rescue over at Disney California Adventure Park) and Mad Tea Party because you’ll be able to spin your vehicle freely as you move through the action. If you suffer from motion sickness, you probably want to avoid spinning your car!

Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

All these years of trying and still can’t get the barbell off the ground!

Gag Factory

Just as you exit the ride, you’ll be deposited in an alley with a few interactive scenes that preschoolers will enjoy. “Lock ‘em up” in the jail, see if they can lift the barbell out of the concrete, press and pull the handles on the boxes at the Fireworks Factory and check out the door at the Power House. It’s all good fun!

At the end of the alley, you’ll find the Gag Factory Toontown Five & Dime for shopping. In the courtyard just outside are quick service dining locations where you can grab a bite. Daisy’s Diner offers basic personal-sized pizzas and Pluto’s Dog House has hot dogs and turkey sandwiches. After a meal you can hit Clarabelle’s for soft serve. I’ve found that these locations aren’t always open during the off-season, however.

Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

Vroom-Vroom!

There is one set of restrooms in Toontown, located in the center of “town”. Be sure to have your preschoolers check out the gas station “fish” inside the tanks! There’s also a car to sit in for a photo op. There are several cartoonish vehicles around Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland including a firetruck that kids can climb on and sit in.

When Toontown first opened the Jolly Trolley actually transported guests from one end of the area to the other on the cute, bobbing trolley car. But Toontown isn’t particular big and there were always so many guests wandering in front of the trolley, they stopped operating it long ago. It now sits on the tracks for photos.

Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

Meet Minnie & Mickey

Minnie’s House is a preschooler’s delight! Sit at her kitchen table, see the cake baking in the oven and open her fridge to see what’s inside. Be sure to stop at the wishing well out back. Minnie often greets guests in front of her house.

Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

Cooking up fun inside Minnie’s kitchen

Step inside Mickey’s House and check out all the hands-on surprises. Preschoolers can hop in Pluto’s dog bed, watch a vintage cartoon on Mickey’s TV and giggle at the pest who’s invading his garden. Keep walking back into the barn and you’ll encounter movie props through the queue and you’ll get to meet Mickey himself in a private meet n’ greet room. So much better than standing in the hot sun for a regular character meeting, you’ll be able to wait in the air conditioned screening room while watching cartoons on a big screen.

Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

Snuggling in Pluto’s bed at Mickey’s hosue

Playtime in Toontown

I’ve actually never traveled up into Chip n’ Dale Treehouse because it’s never been open on any of my visits. According to the Disneyland website you can climb a staircase inside the tree for a great view of Toontown.

Mickey's Toontown for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

The next two playhouses are great for preschoolers to just run around and burn off extra energy. Donald’s Boat is called the “Miss Daisy” and is a double-decker playhouse where kids can spin the Captain’s wheel and pull the ship’s whistle.

Next door at Goofy’s Playhouse there’s a playground in the garden that includes a slide. Inside the house, kids love to play the “goofy” piano! There are waiting areas in both play areas for parents to sit and relax.

Mickey's Toontown for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

Gadget’s Go-Coaster

The other ride in Mickey’s Toontown is Gadget’s Go-Coaster, a preschooler’s perfect first roller coaster. This ride is based on the animated show Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers (which parents may be more familiar with than kids). I appreciate all the quirky details here to look at in the queue. There are lots of fun “found objects” that create the coaster like beach blankets, “Tinkertoys” and office supplies. It’s a great way to pass the time, spotting these items while you’re waiting in line.

Mickey's Toontown for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

Gadget’s Go Coaster

There is only one coaster so the line tends to move slowly. But kids will excite at having the coaster whizzing by overhead while they wait! The ride itself is only one-minute long so it’s really a great place to start if your preschooler is interested in faster rides.

Say Hello to a ‘Toon Friend!

Occasionally characters are out to meet n’ greet including Pluto and Goofy and we’ve found the lines are generally shorter than elsewhere in the park.

Mickey's Toontown for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

What’s your favorite thing in Mickey’s Toontown? Share with me in the comments!

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