Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ideas for an Epic Holiday Family Get-Together

Ideas for an Epic Holiday Family Get-Together
By Christine Hill

Nothing is better than getting the whole family together to spend some quality time during the holidays.

However, it can also be a monumental undertaking. Planning food, entertainment, and accommodation for everyone takes time and stress. You want to be able to enjoy the holiday and actually spend time with your family, but if you’re the host, you probably spend most of your time running around like a chicken with your head cut off instead.

Well, there’s only so much you can do to keep your stress reined in during this time of year. But here are a few tips and ideas that I’ve seen be wildly successful in the past. So, if you’re planning a huge family get-together, read on for some inspiration. And then, share your favorite tips and ideas below!

Have a Kids’ Zone

One of the hardest things about a family get-together is making sure that the entertainment and activities will appeal to all ages. However, your job will get a whole lot easier when you realize that not everything needs to appeal to everyone at the same time. There will be times when the old folks want to just relax with a book or talk about old times, and the kids are bound to get restless and whiny over it.

Curtail the family tensions by providing a fun playzone and outlet for the kids. You can have an area set up that’s entirely dedicated to kid’s activities. Here are some ideas:

  • Paint and accessories to make pet rocks
  • Holiday handicrafts like paper snowflakes and popsicle stick reindeer
  • Costumes
  • Holiday stories and activity books

You might also designate a few older kids or adults to take special time to direct activities for the younger kids. Think about setting up a nativity play for them, or ask a senior member of the family to read to the kids out of your favorite Christmas treasury. You might also have a few adults in charge of snow activities like sledding and building snowmen.

Record as Much as Possible

Amazing memories are made when family gets together. Come prepared to record and document what goes on. You’ll probably want to have a camcorder for talent shows or special moments from the kids. But what I’ve found really handy in the past is handheld audio recording equipment for the late-night talks. That’s when the old stories and memories come out of grandma and grandpa, and you’ll want to record those reminiscences for the future. Handheld recorders don’t have the same pressure that a video recording does, and you can be inconspicuous and record long measures of time. You can get an audio recording with your phone, but sometimes it’s worthwhile to invest in a quality recorder that will pick up the subtleties of sound and cut atmospheric noise.

Do a Secret Santa Gift Exchange

Getting gifts for everyone during a holiday family get-together is just way too much. And the thing is, no one else wants to deal with that many gifts either. They’re difficult to transport and they drain the bank. Instead, pick names out of a hat ahead of time so that everyone is getting a gift from someone at the get-together, but you yourself aren’t in charge of putting together something thoughtful for every blood relation you have.

Bond with Some Awesome Branded Apparel

It might seem like going to extremes for just a family get-together, but if your family is like mine, it’s a monumental event when we get everyone in the same place. And nothing makes a memory quite like customized apparel. T-shirts or hats are the old favorites, but don’t feel too limited. You could also get bags, water bottles, flashlights, or other cool items. Challenge someone in your family (or a couple people) with design chops to put together something more than bare text.

Custom apparel has a few great functions. First, it’s a keepsake that your whole family can cherish and flaunt. Secondly, it creates unity in the family right from the get-go. Thirdly, it can help if you go out somewhere to always spot the members of your family (this is especially handy if you’ve got a lot of little ones running around). Last of all, it can make a great Christmas present.

Ask Everyone to Help

The best way to keep the task of planning a family get-together from becoming too stressful is to balance out the responsibility. Ask smaller groups to take charge of portions. For example, one brother can handle Friday’s dinner plans and another can take care of Saturday morning breakfast. Ask family members ahead of time to prepare something for a talent show that you’ll have one night. Ask someone to take charge of a venture to drive and see the Christmas lights in the area. Although it might feel like a cop out at first to spread the responsibility around, it makes for a better experience for everyone! When people participate and are all involved in making something great, they’re more likely to have a good time.

How about you? What kind of great ideas have you seen done for family get-togethers? 

Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

Happy Holidays everyone! We hope you have a fun, safe and loving holiday with your family. Today's post is a guest post from our good friend Christine Hill. 

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas
By Christine Hill

Christmas season is in full swing, and I am loving it. I hate winter with a vicious passion, and watch the shortening days with dismay, but Christmas actually makes the month of December worth it. (January is a completely different story, but we won’t talk about that right now.)

Here’s the thing about Christmas: while we’re putting up decorations and organizing parties and gifts, sometimes the holiday starts to feel a little fabricated or hollow. Going through phases of really good Christmases, and others where I felt adrift and alone, I’ve gradually noticed that there are a handful of things that are undeniably “Christmas” to me. Things that make it feel genuine and familiar. Things I just can’t do without during the month of December. Everyone’s list is different, but these are the things that make it feel like Christmas to me, instead of just looking like it.

The Smell

When I was a kid, my mom watched way too many episodes of Rescue 911. I fully blame this show for robbing us of real Christmas trees each year. I mean, how many episodes about Christmas trees going up in flames do you have to show, Rescue 911? In any case, we switched to a fake tree when I was about 8, and I missed the smell of evergreen in the house after that. To me, that smell is one of the signatures of Christmas. Just for the record, it’s pretty simple to prevent Christmas tree fires. This article here is a great guide. But, if you’re someone who prefers fake trees, that’s fine. I found my peace with fake trees when I started having to vacuum up fallen needles. Here are some natural ways that you can still make your home smell amazing:

  • Simmer some cinnamon and orange peels in water on your burner
  • Bake something delicious
  • Collect cedar and pine cones filled with resin from outside, then put them by the door so the smell wafts in with each exit and entrance
  • Get a natural wreath
  • Make an easy, natural air freshener out of cloves piercing an orange

The Coziness

Another thing about Christmas is the coziness factor. Even in southern California where I grew up, the December chill would sink into your skin, and it was my favorite thing to bundle up in response. Seriously, is there any feeling more delicious than thawing your feet by a heating vent after coming in from the cold? That’s why every December heralds a tribute to coziness in my house. That means:

  • Those amazingly soft blankets from Costco
  • Super warm double-layered socks
  • Special Christmas pajamas

I like to drape pretty blankets and cushions all around my house so that every seat is a perfect place to cuddle, and change into my pajamas absurdly early.

The Lights

Twinkle lights! Oh man, another favorite thing about the season. I love seeing stores and businesses deck out their shop windows with lights, and I love when towns decorate main street with light-wrapped trees. Going out with a car full of kids to enjoy the Christmas lights in the neighborhood is a favorite December tradition. This year I’m wrapping white twinkle lights and garlands around the columns on the front porch of my new house. In order to keep the decorating smooth and joyful, instead of stressful and hazardous, remember to follow safety guidelines. Here are some other ideas to keep your Christmas front yard decorations festive and safe.

The Giving

If you’re not feeling the Christmas spirit, it might be time to change your focus. Make it your goal to enter into the spirit of giving, of generosity, patience, and friendliness. Here are some ideas:

  • Sub for Santa
  • Organize a food drive for families in your community
  • Find a way to serve seniors in an assisted living community near you
  • Strike up a friendly conversation with whoever’s next to you in line at the store
  • Bring hot chocolate to homeless people in your city
  • Send a personalized thank-you note to someone who’s helped you in life
  • Call up an old friend

One of my very favorite Christmas moments was among total strangers, at the Post Office. It was crowded, and everyone was obviously trying to meet some Christmas deadlines. It would be so easy for tensions to run high. Instead, there was an unmistakable spirit of generosity. One mother seemed harried, trying to keep two rowdy children in line. Instead of getting annoyed at the noise, another woman distracted the children with a toy she’d found in her purse while the mother went to the front desk. When an elderly man started getting frustrated by the self-service kiosk, a college student in line behind him stepped in to help. When my credit card simply wouldn’t work and I was about to break down in tears, someone else stepped in and paid for me to send my parcel. Every potentially stressful situation during the holidays can be turned into an opportunity to show others generosity and genuine kindness.

How about you? What are the characteristic things that make it feel like Christmas to you? 

Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.

#nextgenerationsahmblog, #guestpost, #christmas

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Transform Your Kitchen with Youcopia

Transform Your Kitchen with Youcopia
Written By Renee Arbia

Sponsored By: Youcopia
I wrote this post while participating in a campaign and received a gift to thank me for my time. All views and opinions with regard to the products or company itself are my own and were not influenced or reviewed by the company prior to posting. I am disclosing this according to the FTC guidelines.

It is the end of the year and we are cleaning out the old to make way for the new. I like to organize the kitchen in time for the holidays. It makes it much easier to cook and clean quickly, so we have more time with friends and family.

I really wanted to organize our kitchen cupboards. Now that I have a crawling and scooting four month old daughter and a happy to help four year old son I was able to get the cupboards organized and cleaned safely and quickly with the help of Youcopia.

Youcopia helps you simplify and enjoy your life with their line of home organizers that you can buy from Target. I decided to try out Youcopia’s new Store More Adjustable Lid Holder, Stora Stack for Drawers, and Spice Steps. They are great for organizing pot and pan lids, Tupperware and your herbs and spices.

I started organizing our spice cupboard.

The spice cupboard BEFORE Youcopia Spice Steps

I love how the YoucopiaSpice Steps are easy to use with no mounting or installation. The Youcopia Spice Steps lets you maximize space with four tiers instead of the standard three tiers. 

I also like that it comes with 48 pre-printed labels and 48 blank labels that allow you to label the bottle caps with the included stickers to quickly find your spices. 

The Spice Steps holds 24 standard size spice bottles. It also works great in your pantry for cans, jars and baby food.

The spice cupboard AFTER the Youcopia Spice Steps

The Tupperware cupboard BEFORE Youcopia Stora Stack.

The second cupboard I decided to organize was the Tupperware cupboard. It is always so hard to store containers and lids. I can never store them and still make them easy to find quickly when you need them. 

I was impressed with the Youcopia Stora Stack for Drawers. This also required no permanent mounting or installation. It even expands to lock into standard kitchen drawers. I do not have my Tupperware in drawers we keep it in the cupboard, but I was still able to organize with the Youcopia Stora Stack forDrawers by using it in the bottom of the cupboard. I stored the matching sets on the Stora Stack and the rest behind it. 

The Stora Stack comes with two clip dispensers that can be positioned as needed to hold two container stacks in place. The individual slots keep the matching lids upright so everything stays tidy and easy to find. You can organize twelve plastic food containers from top grocery brands on the YouCopia StoraStack

The Tupperware cupboard AFTER Youcopia Stora Stack.

The pot and pan cupboard BEFORE Youcopia Lid Holder.

The last cupboard I organized was the hardest and turned out the best in my opinion. I never can find a good way to store pot and pan lids. They take up so much room and finding the lid you need in a hurry was always hard to do. I love the Youcopia Store More Adjustable Lid Holder. It was so simple to use with no mounting or installation. It saves a lot of cupboard space by storing your lids vertically. It comes with seven coated steel secure wire dividers with a U shape to accommodate different types of lid handles. 

They are easy to use and divide up according to how your pan lids fit. I found it so easy to use and I can even store the extra large lids behind it! 

The pot and pan lid cupboard AFTER Youcopia Lid Holder!

I really love how all of the kitchen cupboards turned out. It is easy to find things quickly, and it has made things go much more smoothly in the kitchen. I really enjoy organizing and home improvement projects. I was very satisfied with the sophistication, durability and how easy the Youcopia products are to use.

Youcopia definitely helped me simplify my life by helping me keep my kitchen organized so this holiday season I can spend more time with our friends and family, and focus on what really matters.

You can purchase the Youcopia products at your local TargetStore to find out more visit or

Enter to win our Youcopia Product Giveaway!
Please note that the giveaway will end on the 21st of December. Full terms and conditions can be read, it is open to USA residents only. The prize is a product of choice from the Youcopia range for a value of $40.00

Win a YouCopia product of your choice #9

#Youcopia, #review, #sponsored, #NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #homeorganization, #kitchenorganization, #ad, #Target, #TargetHome

Monday, November 28, 2016

#givingTuesday Hits Home TSGA

#givingTuesday Hits Home TSGA
Written By Renee Arbia
 Next Generation Stay At Home Mom Blog

We are not big black Friday shoppers, nor Cyber Monday people. However, we always participate in Giving Tuesday. It is one of my favorite days. We always save at least $10 or more to give to a charity of our choice that day. It may not be much, but every little bit counts, and we try to spread it around for #givingTuesday. It is a great day to remind people to give back. Many charities are in need of extra resources during the cold holiday months.

We rotate every year who we give to, places like local charities, environmental charities and children charities we have given to in the past. This year when thinking about which charity to give to we did not have to look far. We simply had to look in our home. In my home, sleeping like an angel, in her swing, is our sweet miracle girl, Imogen.  This holiday season remember that this sweet miracle girl has touched your heart and life. If you are reading this post then you somehow know me, or have read my works, or are familiar with our situation. If you are reading this for the first time, perhaps you read it for a reason. Imogen has touched your life; Turner Syndrome touches your life.

Read Imogen's Birth Story
Turner Syndrome is a rare chromosomal condition that happens naturally and has no cure. It is the lacking of an x chromosome resulting in a host of different medical symptoms for girls with this condition. (Only females get Turner Syndrome) Many girls with Turner Syndrome suffer from heart conditions, kidney conditions, small stature, infertility, digestive issues and learning and social disabilities. Only 80,000 girls in the United States of America have Turner Syndrome. One of them has now touched your life. These girls are all strong and amazing. They endure multiple surgeries and medical procedures. They receive extra tutors and guidance, and excel at everything they put their minds to. Almost all girls with Turner Syndrome get a shot at least once a day and some more than others. That alone deserves a donation for the strength these girls have.

 There are many worthy charities to give to this holiday season, yet I ask you to please consider donating to the Turner Syndrome Global Alliance for our Imogen. She has a long life a head of her and so do many other girls with Turner Syndrome. Please help us advance the treatments for them. Imogen has touched your life in some way please help us to not only help her, but other girls like her.

“By making a #GivingTuesday donation to TSGA, you support our efforts to have a direct impact on the lives of girls, women, and families living with Turner Syndrome by working to include Turner Syndrome in the national conversation on genetic research. We are the voice for a patient and parent perspective as we seek collaboration with scientists, researchers, and doctors to ensure that Turner Syndrome research and resources have meaningful outcomes. On #GivingTuesday, millions of individuals across the United States will choose to support the causes that are important to them.  When you choose to support TSGA your donation will have an impact on the thousands of families who struggle daily to support the medical and social needs of their loved one with Turner Syndrome.  With more information and better interventions, girls and women with Turner Syndrome can live healthier, more successful lives.” – Turner Syndrome Global Alliance

You can donate by following the link here

Please share this on your social media platforms to encourage others to donate and share! Happy #givingTuesday!

#givingTuesday, #NextGenerationSAHMBlog

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Room for Imogen

A Room for Imogen
Written By Renee Arbia

Story Book Ad Campaign Sponsors:
I wrote this post while participating in a campaign and received a gift to thank me for my time. All views and opinions with regard to the products or company itself are my own and were not influenced or reviewed by the company prior to posting. I am disclosing this according to the FTC guidelines.

Our sweet girl is now four months old. She is growing up so fast already. She rolls from side to side and can even scoot herself on her back. She loves being around her family and she adores her big brother. At four months Imogen still sleeps in a number of different places and positions. We decided it was time to get her room finished so that we can start to get her to nap in her crib during the day.

We only cleaned out her room when I was pregnant with her. We were too afraid to get her room ready for her when her arrival was so unclear. (Read Imogen’s Birth Story) Now that she is here and very strong and healthy we decided it was time to give Imogen a place of her own. Rather than doing a set theme with matching curtains, crib and d├ęcor I instead decided to just have an overall idea and make her room more of a vintage nursery. I had a lot of items from when I was little, like pictures and blankets so it made it very personal and much more unique.

We ended up with a sort of vintage butterfly garden theme. I pretty much tried to keep a color palette for everything as well as anything you would see in a garden. (Ok maybe not the ballet slipper painting, but that is a special picture that used to be mine so it was more sentimental).

I really like the decorative wall hooks we got for her. They come in blue, yellow and pink and are screws. You stick them to the wall and screw them in. It was so easy Xavier was able to screw them in and they are super strong hooks that do not damage the wall.

I also had to have blackout curtains for Imogen’s room. I love the soft, silky texture of these Luxury Home Blackout Curtains.

All the baby toys were easy to store in the adorable and durable Jute Storage Bins by Ziggy Baby. I like these bins because they look like burlap, but are not, and are easier to clean. They also say “Toys” on one side and “Storage” on the other. We used them for Imogen’s toys. They are really big and hold a lot of toys. 

Imogen is extremely sensitive to smells and for a while we were debating about painting her room. We decided against it as it is winter time and it would be too hard to air the room out. Instead we decided to get flower and butterfly decals to spread around the walls of her room. We used 3D decals of butterflies and flat decals. Of course, this was Xavier’s favorite part of decorating Imogen’s room.

We think it turned out beautiful and Imogen loves it. It is nice for her to have her own space and we enjoy showing her all the love we put into her room. We hope she enjoys it for years to come!

#Storybookadcampaign, #sponsored, #NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #Imogen, #butterflygardennursery, #vintagenursery, #vintagebutterflygardennursery, #turnersyndrome, #specialneeds, #review, #adcampaign, #decorativewallhooks, #ziggybaby, #jutestoragebins, #LuxuryHomesBlackout, #blackoutcurtains


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