#Ad: Check out GuruNanda’s Mother’s Day Aromatherapy Starter Kit

sampleDisclaimer: I received a sample of this product in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

gurunanda

As we all know, Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Skip the flowers and chocolates this year, and give Mom something she can use.

This Mother’s Day, Walmart is featuring a GuruNanda Aromatherapy Starter Kit. It includes a beautiful tower shaped diffuser and a bottle of GuruNanda‘s proprietary “Relaxation” blend. This unique blend is part of a specialty line of aromatherapy formulas that harness the benefits of several botanicals for optimum results. It contains a soothing blend of lavender, grapefruit, basil, and eucalyptus oils. You can purchase more of the “Relaxation” blend separately, as well as seven other “Essential Oil Blend” formulas that can also be used in the diffuser.

I received a sample of the Starter Kit, and I absolutely love it! The diffuser is plugged into the wall in my bedroom, and I start the diffuser about an hour or so before I go to bed. By the time I crawl into bed, the whole rooms smells amazing, and I’m ready for a peaceful night of sleep. My husband loves the scent of the blend as well, and I think he’s even sleeping better too. (Not that he’d ever admit that!) 😉

This Aromatherapy Starter Kit would make the perfect gift for Mom this year. And I say that as a mom with 19 years of Mother’s Day experience under my belt.

Want to know the best part about this special kit? The price! So many times, I can’t afford items like Essential Oils and/or Diffusers. Have you ever researched them or priced them? It can be expensive! I have another diffuser that I got on sale – for $50! I had to save up for several weeks just to get it!

So, I was anxious to see what the price of this kit would be, especially since it comes with a special oil blend AND a diffuser. Want to know the price?

It’s available on the Walmart website for less than $20! Did you catch that? For under 20 bucks, you can give Mom a gift she will absolutely love – not just say she loves!

Hurry into your local Walmart now, or click to order from their site. This diffuser kit will only be here for a limited time, so don’t miss your chance to grab one for Mom! (Grab yourself one, your wife one, and keep a few for birthday gifts to give throughout the year! At this price, you can afford to stock up and always be prepared!)

Who will you share this amazing gift with this Mother’s Day?

#IC #Ad: #FamilyTravel? #FamilyAdventure? The @GBChildUsa #gbPockit Stroller Makes it Better! #gbFuturePerfect

sponsored Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by @GBChildUsa as part of a Blog Blast Activation for Influence Central.
GB-Pockit-Stroller

The weather is finally getting nice, and that means it’s time to start thinking about your next Family Adventure! When you have a little one, you have to take time to decide what is going to be the easiest way to get them around. You want them to be comfortable, but you also need to be comfortable too! You need something light, portable, but sturdy. That’s why I want to introduce you to the gb Pockit stroller available at Babies ‘R’ Us. It’s perfect for little ones from 6 months up to 55 pounds, and comes in 6 gorgeous colors. It’s the world’s smallest folding stroller at 12″ x 7″ x 14″, making it lightweight, but still easy to use!

One easy way to learn more about this amazing little stroller is to check out the #gbPockit Twitter Party. Here’s everything you need to know:

  • Date: Thursday, April 28, 2016
  • Time: 1 – 2 PM ET
  • Moderators: @MomCentral
  • Brand Participants: @GBChildUSA
  • Party hashtags: #gbPockit
  • Prizes: 2 pre-party winners and 6 party winners will receive $50 Amex gift cards and 1 grand prize winner will receive the gb Pockit Stroller
  • Party Focus: We’ll be chatting about family adventures, whether a jet-setting vacation or a weekend getaway, the gb Pockit gives on-the-go Moms a portable stroller, ideal for all of our family travels.

Check out the link above to get all the details, and I hope to see you at the #gbPockkit twitter party next week!

 

 

#Spon: #FlyBy Presents the #UndertheSea Bible for Kids

sampleDisclaimer: This post is sponsored by FlyBy Promotions and Zonderkidz. I received a copy of the Under the Sea Bible in order to facilitate my review. Any opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

under the sea

In our house, we are always trying to find ways to encourage our children to read their Bible. Typically, this isn’t a problem, but when it comes to our younger children, it can be more difficult.

Thankfully, we received a copy of the Under the Sea Bible. The timing could not have been more perfect! Our 7 year old son, Parker, is constantly asking questions and wanting to know more about accepting Christ as his Savior. His little heart is so open and so willing. Not only that, but his class recently took a trip to a local Aquarium. His class has been studying things “Under the Sea” for weeks now, in order to prepare for their trip. So, when a Bible, whose cover was decorated with beautiful, sparkly, creatures from under the sea – well, let’s just say – Parker called dibs!

reading the Bible

While I wish the Under the Sea Bible was available in other versions, (namely the KJV with the words of Jesus in red), I still believe this is an excellent resource for Parker. The inserts inside the Bible are full of color, and more importantly, full of information to help him understand what the Bible tells us. It’s opened the door to lots of questions. Even more than all of that, though, I love that I will just randomly find Parker sitting and reading this Bible all over the house.

The Under the Sea Holy Bible, NIrV would make a fantastic gift for any child aged 6 – 10. The beautiful underwater creatures sparkle on the outside cover and bring the interior of this Bible to life. The inserts inside the Bible cover themes of God’s love and care for all of us, and also give a clear representation of the gospel.

You can learn more about the Bible by clicking either of the links above. The Bible is now available for purchase at these major retailers:

You can also learn more about Zonderkidz products by following them on social media:

Thank you, Zonderkidz for producing a Bible that has my child wanting to read, wanting to learn more, and asking the questions he needs to learn in order to give his heart to Christ. We love this Bible, and we are sure you will too!

Easy Steps For Organizing A Family

For most modern families, organization is key. With so many friends, hobbies, jobs and commitments, it can be easy to lose track. Staying organized is crucial for a smooth and harmonious daily life but it is not always easy to achieve. We may feel like we often don’t know what each family member is up to during the week or that appointments and commitments can sneak up on us. There are many advantages to being an organized family that go beyond simply making things run more smoothly. Being organized makes it easier to ensure that you spend quality time together. It makes holidays simpler to plan if everyone knows their commitments, and it keeps morale high. Disorganization can lead to a lot of anxiety and stress. They commonly cause tension in relationships and so a disorganized family is often a stressed one. But with a bit of forward planning and communication, you can revolutionize the ways that you and your family get things done.

family photo
Image source

Communicate
Communication is a common buzzword in relationship terms. Whether friends, family or partners, we are often encouraged to express ourselves. Communication shows respect and interest. If it is sincere and not accusatory, we should regularly ask our family members what their plans are and share our own. By knowing what is going on in each others lives, there is instantly more to talk about. You won’t feel shut out and neither will they. Communication facilitates more communication. The more openly you share the more likely you are to get the same back. Try to keep everyone involved and updated with your plans and they will soon learn to return the favor. Emails and even an online calendar can be a great way to keep teenagers involved. If they can add an activity to a calendar that is then visible to you they can feel independent whilst still keeping you updated.

Emphasize Quality Time
Organization makes quality time more of a possibility, because you can better organize your time to suit it. But interestingly, family time can also lead to better organization. If we regularly spend time together, we are more likely to share plans and activities for the coming week. We can then chop and change what is inconvenient. We can fit activities around others, and we can schedule in our family time. Quality time is important for family relationships but it also makes it easier to stay organized. It can act like a mini-meeting or weekly debrief each time to catch up on the week and plan the next.

Prep Work
Getting things done in the early mornings or evenings in preparation for the day can be a great way to stay ahead. Many parents swear by the routine of packing bags or lunches in the evening so that they can sleep in a little later and not compete with the morning rush. Prep work doesn’t have to feel like a chore either. If you take something on when the rest of the family are still asleep or preparing for bed it can be valuable time for yourself.

Moms, Let’s Get REAL.

I used the following post as a devotional for my monthly MOPs group this month. (Mothers of Preschoolers) It went over so well, and so many moms approached me afterward, I felt it needed to be shared here. I hope this post touches you and helps you realize you are loved, no matter who you really are.

Let's Get Real

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend the Casting Crowns concert with one of my very best friends. After we left the concert, and had some ice cream, we got into some pretty deep discussion. Since then, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this topic. I think this is something all moms need to hear, I’m just praying I can bring it across in a way that points to Jesus.

Tonight, I want us to get real. I mean really really real. Like, spill-our-guts-and-show-the-world-who-we-really-are real.

I start thinking about what Mark Hall said at the concert that night when he said, “As Christians, we feel this overwhelming need to always look good so that we can make Jesus look good.”

Whoa. That hit me like a ton of bricks. I am SO guilty. I feel this need, and it is absolutely overwhelming, to make sure *I* always look good, and therefore Jesus will always look good.

Why do we do that? Why can’t we just be real? As a mom of 8, I often feel like everyone is looking at me. Scrutinizing every move I make, and just waiting for me to fail. And so, I try, with all my might, to NOT fail. To give this perfect appearance of a perfect life all the time.

Oh, what a fake I am. I am not perfect. Nor, should I ever pretend to be, because I am so far from perfect, it’s ridiculous. I have done things that would make you gasp in disbelief and cause you to think little of me. It’s true. I have a past so tattered, that I would do anything to hide it from all of you.

Let me tell you a little secret, and please don’t think less of me because I say this, I just want to be real – to be honest, and to tell it like it is.

The first time I attended my local MOPs group, about 8 years ago, I felt oddly out of place. It was like everyone in the room was so much better than me. Everyone was gorgeous, put together, and so outgoing. There I was, like a bump on a log — a frumpy, overweight, stressed out, exhausted mom of 4, pregnant with her 5th. I had to be better. I had to do better. I had to fit in with everyone around me. (Let me just interject here, if this is how you feel about coming to MOPs, please know that is the exact opposite of what we want you to feel! We want you to walk into MOPs, just as you are, even if it means you show up in your pajamas, and know that you are loved regardless of how much money you have, how stressed out you are, or how long it’s been since you got to take a shower that lasted longer than 3 minutes.)

Back to what I was saying. I felt so out of place, like I could never fit in with these gorgeous ladies. So, I put on a mask. Every time I walked into MOPs, I made sure my makeup was perfect, every hair in place, even made sure my legs were shaved and my eye brows were plucked. I’ve done this for years. Why? Because that’s what I thought I needed to do to give off the appearance of being a good Christian mom that would always make Jesus look good. I had to give off that “perfect life” vibe.

But, you know what? Here’s the thing. It’s not my job to make Jesus look good. He IS good. He radiates good. And if I’m trying to show HIS good by lying? Well, that ain’t doin’ nobody no good! (My high school English teacher is wagging her finger at me right now!) But, it’s true. How can I radiate the love of Christ, if I’m not willing to be REAL and let Him use me in whatever way he chooses?

I have been told that I give off a vibe that I am very difficult to approach, a holier-than-thou vibe, if you will. You have no idea how much hearing this hurts my heart, but it is very much my own fault. It’s all due to the fact that I feel the need to give off that “perfect” appearance. Instead of perfect, though, I am making myself appear stand-offish, and completely unapproachable. Oh, how I hate it! (I have also been told – by the same friend that was willing to give me the brutal truth – that once you get to know me, you see how far off the initial appearance is, but I fear that many people won’t take the time to get to know me simply because of that initial vibe. It hurts my heart so badly to think of all the friendships I may have missed out on because of my overwhelming desire to be look perfect.)

So, my sweet friends, let me confess to you how real I am, and how perfect I am not:

– I yell. A lot. And loud. There are times when my kids make me so angry, I will literally turn into She-Hulk and can only grunt commands. “GO!” “EAT!” “CLEAN!” “QUIIIIEEEETTTT!!!!” Seriously, it’s not pretty.

– I am not Super Mom. I cannot do it all, even if my Facebook posts show otherwise. I am simply a stressed out mama who needs a super God to get me though my day. Every day.

– I am not patient. Sometimes, I’m certain God gave me children to teach me patience. And He gave me so many kids because I need a LOT MORE practice in patience than most women.

– Laundry is my nemesis. I have 15 (yes, 15) tubs of clothes stacked on my back porch. They are not clean and sorted by season. Oh no. They are dirty clothes from before our move. IN NOVEMBER. I still haven’t touched them. And at this point, I’m thinking I should just burn them so that I can have the 15 storage tubs for other junk.

– Every day is not perfect. Facebook is only one part of my life. There is so much more that goes on behind the scenes that no one even knows about. I fight with my husband, who is wonderful, but still a man. I can barely make ends meet with one income and 10 people in our household. Some days, I don’t know where dinner that night is coming from. Sometimes, I don’t want to be a mom. I want a day off to myself, and I want to SLEEP.

After I had written out this devotional before my meeting, I started to get ready for church. Standing in front of the mirror, I had had enough with my bangs. They were too long and too straggly, and they needed a change. So, I grabbed the scissors and…. oh, shoot! Too short. Oh my gosh. Way too short. So much for the perfect representation of my non-existent perfect life. I sure took care of that, didn’t I? I guess I really needed to keep it real. As I’m standing in the bathroom, tears streaming down my face, my 11 year old puts an arm around my shoulders and says, “It’s not so bad! Look! Now we have the same hairdo!” Just what I always wanted… the same hairdo as my 11 year old… SON. Sigh. I’m just keepin’ it real here, ladies. Really real.
getreal

I could go on for hours, there is just so much more I could share. But, I think you get the point. I’m a frazzled, crazy mom, who hates laundry, her hair, and can turn into She-Hulk on a whim. And I am definitely not holier than you!

Before I close, though, I want to leave you with this verse:  Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Do you get that? We are his workmanship – created in Christ Jesus. God made me this way. God made you that way. He knew I was going to be a mess, and yet He loves me anyway. Even when I yell. Even when I have a bad day. He’s still there, still loving me, still wanting me to serve Him in whatever capacity I can. He wants us to walk in good works, but it doesn’t mean we have to do it perfectly every moment of every day. In fact, we don’t have to do it perfectly at all!

So, ladies, can we make a pact with each other? Can we promise to just be real from here on out? Really real?

Let’s just do our best, and if we have a bad day, don’t hide it. Embrace it, and discover what the Lord is trying to teach you through it. Your bad day might be a blessing to another mom who is trying to hold it together when it seems like her whole world is falling apart.

Always remember, YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made!

fearfully and wonderfully made

#Spon: Let Them Be #JustAKid with @POWERADE & @Walmart

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post for POWERADE through SheSpeaks. Any opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

#justakid

Earlier this year, I signed my 11 year old son up for baseball. Now that the weather is nicer, it’s time for practice, and soon, we’ll be at all of his games. My life is now consumed with baseball – and that’s OK, because I love watching my little athlete play his heart out for a game he loves.

As mom, it’s my job to make sure all of my athletes reach their full potential. One of the ways I can help most is making sure Jace has everything he needs to play his best: the right equipment, a well-balanced pregame meal, on-time arrival to practice and games, and, most importantly, making sure he is properly hydrated.

athletes

Jace has never played baseball before, and while he is off to a great start, he is very tough on himself. I find myself constantly reminding him that as long as he’s doing his best and having fun, that’s all that matters. Yes, they are all athletes, but they aren’t professionals, and no one expects them to be!

That’s why I love the POWERADE “Just a Kid” Campaign! No matter what you achieve in your life, there’s one thing you have to remember: you start in the same place as everyone else, a kid full of big dreams and oodles of potential. At the end of the day, we’re all “Just a Kid” from somewhere. Isn’t that fantastic?

POWERADE believe that our everyday athletes can realize their full potential and maybe one day go on to be one of the athletes they look up to. Whether playing t-ball or the pros, every athlete in every league has a story waiting to be told.

WereAllJustAKid

Now through April 4, 2016 (or until supplies last), you can get a free custom POWERADE sports bottle! Just head to Walmart, stock up on POWERADE for your athletes, and when you purchase two (2) 20 ounce 8-packs of POWERADE products, you can click this link and get your free personalized bottle.

You can also represent your “somewhere” with custom “Just a Kid” apparel that features where you’re from here. All net proceeds from the sale of “Just a Kid” apparel goes to the Boys & Girls Club of America.

8pack

I am excited about this season of baseball, and watching Jace grow and improve as the season goes on. I will cheer him on, encourage him when he gets down, and always, always, always remind him that he is #JustAKid and we all have to start somewhere!

Thanks, POWERADE for your attitude toward our young athletes, for helping them stay hydrated, and for encouraging them the reach their full potential!

A Christian Mom’s Opinion of Fuller House

a christian mom's opinion of fuller house

I have to admit, I was a little giddy when I found out “Fuller House” was going to be a reality.

I grew up with Full House, and because I was the same age as “DJ” on the show, I always had a special connection with the issues she faced.

My family watches Full House on television every evening. My kids can name every character on the show, and they can still relate to the issues brought up in each episode. Sure, some episodes are goofy, and my kids cannot get past some of the clothes they wore, but for the most part, they love Full House and we all look forward to watching it together.

I’ve also followed Candace Cameron Bure through the years. As a professing Christian, I was proud of many of the stands she took on moral issues. It was nice to see that someone in the spotlight could still shine a little light for Jesus.

And then she did Dancing with the Stars. I was crushed. The racy outfits, dancing seductively with a man she wasn’t married too… just so much I disagreed with. So, I “unliked” her page on Facebook, and let it go. (Thank you, Elsa.)

Then, talk of Fuller House started. The middle school girl in me got all giddy. Maybe a little too giddy, because I didn’t bother to do ANY research on the show. (Where’s the hand to the forehead emoticon?) Not having Netflix, I hurried up and subscribed, just so I could tune into the show.

I assumed it would be just like Full House. I assumed I could watch it with my kids. I assumed it would be the next family show we would all love watching.

I assumed wrong. VERY WRONG.

Without any research on the show, my family sat down the night of the big premier, and set in to binge on the entire season that night. Minutes into the show, I had a feeling our plans were going to change.

We sat and watched the entire first episode as a family. I am still so ashamed of that. (Please note: this is proof that Christians are not perfect. I let MY desire to watch the show stand in the way of what I KNEW was right. And even worse, I subjected my children to it, because I wanted SO BADLY for us to love it.)

I. AM. AN. IDIOT.

Really. Sometimes, I do dumb things. Really dumb things. Like subject my husband and my pre-teen boys to “Stephanie Tanner’s” breasts hanging out of her dress through most of the episode. Sigh.

As we were watching the show, and they revealed the red dress Stephanie was going to wear to the party, I kept thinking, “There’s no way she’s really going to wear that. DJ will make her change!”

I was convinced that Candace Cameron Bure – NOT DJ Tanner – would step up and say, “No way. Not on my show. This isn’t going to happen.” Like she had a little bit of that Jesus in her, and she would make it all ok. But she never did. Stephanie wore the dress, and I sat there and let it be shown on my television.

We finished the first episode, and then we sat there in dumbfounded silence. Had I researched the show, I would have known that the show was NOT going to be kid friendly.

(Note: I read an article that the creators made the show for the adults who had grown up with Full House. Like, when we grew up, we all left our morals on the cutting room floor? Is that really what they think of today’s world? But, with the amount of “Conservative Christians” that thought Fuller House was great, I’m guessing those creators are correct.)

We turned the TV off and found other things to do that night. No mention of the show was made again…

Until the next day. All night, I had tossed and turned, begging God to forgive me for allowing that show into my home. Thanking Him that my stupidity only lasted one episode (and that was with not even knowing what any other episodes held!).  When we got up the next morning, the very first thing I did was apologize to my husband. Over and over, I apologized for subjecting him to that. He kissed my forehead and told me he was just as wrong for not turning it off either. I’m thankful that he admits his faults and loves me through mine.

I spoke with a friend of mine who made it through the whole season. The things she told me made me SO glad we had shut it off and not gone on to another episode. Sex, drinking, vulgarity… I just don’t understand it. Then, I read this article that made me even more glad we didn’t continue watching. (Warning: If you are a follower of Jesus, that link will make you sad, sick, and angry. And if it does not, there’s something wrong.)

I expected so much more from the show. I expected it to be loved by my kids as much as Full House is. I never expected to be shocked and horrified by what I saw.

I think my biggest disappointment lies in Candace Cameron Bure, though. Secretly, I wonder what her brother thinks about her new show. With her “high moral standards” and her “love for Jesus,” I never, ever expected her to take part in something like this. Yes, we are all human. And, yes, we all do dumb things. (See above – and I’m certain I have many more stories I could share…) BUT, as a professing Christian in the media and all over social network outlets, I think she should be held to an even higher standard. Her role on Fuller House has set Christian women back a thousand paces. It is NOT OK to live a double standard. (Read James 3 if you need further explanation.)

The good news is, my hope is NOT in Candace Cameron Bure. My hope is in JESUS. He is the only one Who ever lived a perfect life. So, while people let us down, and while family shows are now becoming a thing of the past, I am thankful I can still trust in Jesus. And I am so thankful that He loves me… even when I do dumb things.

What are your thoughts on Fuller House? Were you as disappointed as I was?

Health Checks to Consider Before Traveling

vacation
So, you’ve got a holiday planned and you can’t wait to get away for a week or two, but there’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Doing a few health checks before you go will ensure you’re traveling safe, so make sure you don’t risk your general well-being, with these important must haves.

Travel Vaccinations
Make sure to read up on your destination and the advice and regulations they have about health. Sometimes vaccinations are required, for example in tropical climes and regions known to have Malaria. You’ll need to prepare in advance for this and remember to pack some painkillers, antiseptics and insect repellents just in case.

aloe_vera

Flickr

Aloe Vera

The Aloe Vera plant has many beneficial health properties that makes it perfect for travel. It contains soothing ingredients great for calming down insect bites and sunburn. It can also be used to help spots vanish. Carry a gel form around in your travel bag in case of emergencies.

Contact Lenses
If you wear glasses, you might want to think about swapping to daily disposable contacts for the duration of your holiday. It makes it easier and more practical, especially if you’re someone who loves to swim. Try shopping online for a good deal, and you can even get travel size contact lens solution to fit easily in with your luggage. If not, you are going to want to find prescription sunglasses.

Motion Sickness Tablets
Getting on a rocky ferry and realizing you don’t have any sea sickness tablets is a sure way to ruin your day. Pack some motion sickness tablets just in case, making sure to take two tablets, two hours before you travel. Set this on your phone alarm, so you don’t have to worry about reminding yourself.

Medication
Finally, your medication is the most important thing and should be kept in your hand luggage just in case your suitcase goes missing. By purchasing a tablet organizer, you’ll be able to keep track of what you’ve taken during the week. That way you’ll know straight away if you’ve skipped any pills.

sunscreen

Wikimedia

UV Protection
If you’re traveling to a hot country, you’ll definitely need to pack some sun tan lotion, to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Skin cancer is a growing problem in the UK, affecting over 2,600 people, so it’s best to use a high factor and be safe. Some advice to consider is to stay away from full on sun exposure when it’s at it’s highest, especially if you have kids. The sun is most effective from between 11 and 3 pm, so cover up with a hat or t-shirt f you’re spending long stretches in the sun.

Travel Insurance
Make sure you don’t step on a plane without good travel insurance, especially if you’re planning to go from country to country. It’s important to get the right type of insurance and know what you’re paying for. Good travel insurance will cover the full length of your stay, as well as your holiday destination. And don’t forget you’ll need a European health insurance card (EHIC).

Check This Out: What’s In Your Rug: Spring Cleaning Edition #Infographic

With 8 kids and a dog in my house, you can only imagine the amount of dirt that gets tracked inside. All those little feet that have been jumping in mud puddles, splashing in the creek, and tromping through our 5 acres of land. Oh, heavens. It makes me crazy! My husband and I often talk about  rug cleaning and how we have to get it done! I had absolutely no idea how much dirt gets trapped in our rugs until I took some time to check out the infographic I have posted below.

Please take a minute and check out the infographic from Ahdoot Oriental Rugs:

Ahdoot-Spring-Cleaning-Infographic2

Oh, those numbers make me crazy! Multiply them by 10 people living in our house, plus a dog and a cat. Eeek! I think it’s time to get our rugs cleaned: STAT!

How about you? Have you ever even given your rugs a thought before now? I’d love to hear from you!

#Sponsored: “Captive” DVD #CaptiveMovie #FlyBy #Review & #Giveaway

sampleDisclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

captive

Captive is based on a true story about the power of faith over fear. It is the story of how two lost souls collided. Brain Nichols is on the run and desperate to make contact with his brand new baby boy. He takes Ashley Smith hostage in her own apartment. Fearing for her life, and wanting nothing more than to be able to see her daughter again, she finally tuns to Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” for guidance. Ashley and Brian come to a crossroads where they discover hope and light in the midst of despair.

I received a copy of Captive for my family, and we couldn’t wait until our next Family Movie Night. I made the choice to allow my older children to watch the movie, (ages 11 and up), but I’m thankful I didn’t allow the younger ones to stay up and watch it.

My husband and myself were able to have some really deep discussion after the movie with my older children, and I was quite surprised by how much they understood and had questions about. There was a lot of drug use in the movie. Lots of violence. Some was scary violence. Brian Nichols was a very scary man. And we all discussed how making one bad choice can lead you down a path of many bad choices. Before you know it, you’re going down a path it’s impossible to come back from. (Luckily, we know that through Christ, ALL things are possible, but that still doesn’t make it easy!)

The story was intense from beginning to end. I don’t think any of my kids moved from their seats. The only thing I wish is that faith had been more of a motivator in the movie, or that God had been featured a little bit more. But, there was enough faith shown that it helped open the door for great discussion with my kids. I was able to talk with them about the choices they make when they’re young, and how they will impact them when they get older. We talked a lot about staying away from drugs and alcohol, and not even trying them when “all” their friends are. We talked about having courage and strength to say NO, and if they don’t have the courage to say no on their own, they can trust Christ to give them the courage they need.

Overall, I did enjoy the movie, and I’m thankful for the discussion it was able to open up with my children. I cannot imagine all that Ashley Smith went through, but I’m certain her testimony has led – and will lead – many people to Christ.

To learn more about the movie, please check out the following links:

Want to win a copy of Captive for your family? Just leave a comment on this blog post and tell me a time when you needed faith to get through a scary situation. (If you don’t have an example, just leave your favorite Bible verse as a comment.)

Contest will end January 29th at 11:59pm ET. Please use the guidelines in the disclaimer to see if you qualify. Contest open to US & Canada.

Party Entertainment for All Ages

Some parties and party hosts unintentionally exclude many of the people who attend these special events. However, there are many ways you can get people of all ages involved in the activities at a party. This often makes these types of get-togethers more enjoyable for young and old people who attend and provides many happy memories in years to come. These are some of the most popular types of entertainment that can be enjoyed by a wide range of age groups who are attending a special occasion together.

Party Rentals
Party rentals are extremely popular at parties and most people can get involved in these activities. Bounce houses, carnival games, slides, water slides, moon walks, thrill rides and rock wall rental options are available and are just some of the forms of entertainment you can add to your party for most age groups.
Create a Party Theme
Creating a party theme is an effective way to get everyone involved in a party that includes kids, teens and adults. The only limitation with this type of entertainment is your imagination. The most popular types of party themes include film themes, beach themes, popular celebrities or other themes everyone is familiar with. To make things even more exciting and interesting you could hold a competition for the best dressed attendee or similar competitions.
Music
Music taste differ between younger and older audiences. To cater for this, have different areas where each age group can listen to music that’s more suited to their tastes. This is the perfect way for adults to relax and chat, especially if they have taken part in more energetic activities earlier in the day.

Karaoke
If you want music to play a bigger role in a party, Karaoke is normally a sure way to find out who the real entertainers are at your party. It’s the ideal way to get young and old party-goers involved and have a few laughs along the way too.

Computer Games
Many adults are just as interested in gaming as their younger counterparts. A party is the perfect place to hold competitions amongst older and younger gamers to see who’s best. Once again you could provide some prizes for those who fare best in these competitions between young and old gamers.

Unfortunately, not all parties are as good as they should be. Some parties alienate certain people who attend and the party doesn’t have the same feeling you get at a party that includes everyone. However, it doesn’t have to be like this. There are many different ways a host can encourage more interaction between people of different age groups at a party. It’s also a great way for people to get to know people they may not have known very well before the party took place. The two main aims of a party are for everyone to enjoy themselves and take away fond memories of the occasion. Involving everyone in the activities at a party is the most effective way to do this.

#AD: Keeping Our #GameDayTraditions FUN! @SheSpeaksUp @ProcterGamble @Walmart

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/P&G. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

gamedaytraditions

Game Day in our house means lots of preparation! I’ve got so much to do! There’s the food to prepare… the house to get clean… every little detail must be taken care of… Even down to what toilet paper I’m going to make sure is available for my guests! (I don’t want someone coming over, using my bathroom, and then going home to tell their spouse, “Ugh. That toilet paper was like sandpaper!” No thank you! Only best for my guests! They deserve the ultra strong, yet squeezably soft goodness that only Charmin can provide.) Luckily, I can head to Walmart and grab everything I need to make our traditions for Game Day perfect.

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Set up is crucial. Spray some Febreze to get the furniture smelling fresh and clean. Then, I need everything laid out just right so my guests can get to it easily. I need the right paper towels to handle clean ups, because with the crew we host on game day, there are sure to be a few spills! Bounty helps me get the counters clean after I’ve slaved in the kitchen all day, and then Bounty paper towels are perfect for clean up during and after the party!

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And then there’s the food. Oh my goodness, the food! Meatballs, sandwiches, chili cheese dip and chips, bread, pasta, desserts galore. I don’t do anything small. I have to make sure there’s plenty of food for everyone, and that there’s no chance of anyone leaving my house hungry!

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And while I’m going out of my mind, trying so hard to make everything just right, I remember the most important tradition I have when it comes to game day: the people I share game day with.

Even though I have ten people living in my house – and we can make any occasion a party! – when we add family and friends to the mix, it’s always something to remember!

Once the game is over, and everyone has left, that’s when I’m thankful I stocked up at Walmart! It’s time for the real clean up! I find dip under the couch. Stains on *everyone’s* clothes. And the bathroom usually looks like a tornado ran through it. (Did you notice all those kids in the picture above?!) Luckily, I’ve got Bounty to help with the clean up of the house, and Tide to help make laundry easier.

After every game day happening, all I want to do is sleep for a week, but I’m always thankful that I’ve had the fun with family and friends. They make every moment of preparation, frustration, and clean up worth it. It doesn’t even matter who wins the game!

Companies like Walmart and P&G make Game Day even easier. I’m thankful for quality products that make everyone happy, at a price that makes my wallet happy!

Want to read about other bloggers and their #GameDayTraditions? Here are the links that will help you do just that:

Now, tell me about Game Day at your house. Do you have any traditions you follow? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Moving From the City to the Suburbs

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If you grew up in the heart of a big city or live in one now, you enjoy many benefits of city life — easy access to public transportation, extensive shopping and social activities, vibrant art and culture. But you might be like many who wonder if raising a family in a large city is a good idea. Many parents and parents to-be worry about the quality of schools, frequency of crime and lack of safe spaces for kids to play. You’ll drive more if you live outside the city, but there are some distinct advantages to ditching your city digs and taking up residence in the suburbs.

Affordability
In the city, an apartment or flat costs more. You pay a premium for sidewalks, cafes and theaters, as well as the shorter commute. But you money simply goes further in the suburbs. In Seattle for example, a one-bedroom apartment might cost $1,500 in a moderately priced city neighborhood, but in a suburb a mile away, the same apartment might be $900.

Less Noise & Less Pollution
Suburbs have the benefit of less crowding and more green space. When people aren’t packed in like sardines, crime is also less frequent. You can check out crime rates of an area before you move to see what your new neighborhood might be like. With less people and less industry comes better air quality too. See where your current city ranks in terms of pollution according to the American Lung Association. Less noise and pollution can lead to less stress and a higher quality of life.

Better Schools
City schools often don’t compare to their suburban counterparts. Part of the reason for this is the lack of tax base to support the school districts financially. Lower incomes correlate to school bonds and measures not being funded. So families choose the  suburbs to help ensure their children get a better education, even though doing so often means paying higher property taxes. Last, homes and apartments in good school districts hold their value which is important even if you don’t have kids. Look up schools ahead of time and compare. Global report card even allows you to compare any town or suburb to locales outside the U.S.

More Kids
While there are plenty of children who live in the city, parents usually find more convenient access to child care centers, parks and recreation facilities in the suburbs.

If you are considering a move to the suburbs, rent first, or rent permanently. The benefits of renting include flexibility to move should the commute turn out to be too long or the neighborhood doesn’t meet your needs. Renting may be a great permanent option for your family. It also might be a place to stay while you look for a larger place or house. Check out some of the hottest suburbs in the country for renters. Many of the suburbs on this list are among the safest places in their broader metro area. In some cases the rents might be higher too, but the benefits might be worth the premium.

#Sponsored: Another @PhotoPad_VG #Giveaway! ($25 OR $100 Amazon GC – Your Choice!)

sampleDisclaimer: This post is sponsored by PhotoPad. Any opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

photopad_logo

Last month, I ran a contest for a $100 Amazon Gift Card, and I have to say, I’m a little baffled. There wasn’t one entry on that giveaway post! That’s just crazy!

So, I approached the owner of photoPAD, and we talked. We want to give you another chance to win! I’ll get to the giveaway in a minute. :)

While I kind of kept a business focus on my last post, I want you to see how great this can be for sharing family photos with those you love most!

Take a look at my family PAD:

Isn’t it cute? And it only took a few minutes to make. Now, I can share my PAD with family and friends on Facebook, twitter, or through email at the click of a button!

It’s like digital scrapbooking without all the headache, expense, and frustration. It’s so easy to create a PAD!

Just in case you’ve forgotten, here are the steps to create your own PAD:

  • First, head to the PhotoPad website.
  • In the top right corner, click on “Start Exploring.”
  • Click on “Join Today.” (Takes 30 seconds to join. SO easy!!)
  • Click on the Plus (+) sign at the top left of the page to create a new pad.
  • Follow the steps to Describe your Pad and get to work using the tools on the right!
  • Now, add pictures and create pages to complete your Pad.

Be sure to save your work at the end, and then you can share your pad by finding the link and sharing through social media. To find the link to your Pad, go to the home page, then click the funnel icon. Just click on “My Pads” and there you have it! SO easy!

I really want to encourage you to try out the new photoPAD for yourself. I think you’re going to love it!

And, to reward you, we’re holding another giveaway. You can win a $25 Amazon Gift Card OR a $100 Amazon Gift Card – your choice. Here’s how it will work:

  • 1. To enter for a $25 Amazon Gift Card, visit the PhotoPad Business Facebook Page. (Because we can’t ask you to “like” the page, according to Facebook rules, we sure would appreciate a “like” if you “like” what you see!)
  • 2. Want to increase your prize to a $100 Amazon Gift Card? Simply create your own Pad, with at least 2 slides, using the PhotoPad creator. (Follow the steps above.)
  • 3. Leave a comment on this post and tell me you did the above. If you created a pad, please leave a link to your PAD in your comment.(You MUST leave a link to your pad in order to win the $100 prize.)

Contest will end Sunday, January 17th at 11:59pm, and winner will be announced and contacted on January 18th.

Winner has been selected…. thanks to all who entered!

photopad_winner

#Sponsored: LeapTV – Educational Fun to Get Your Kids Moving! #Giveaway #LeapFrogMomSquad

sampleDisclaimer: This review and giveaway is made possible through my relationship with LeapFrog and the LeapFrog Mom Squad. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

leaptv giveaway

Have you heard of LeapTV?

It’s this fantastic little gaming system that gets your little ones up and moving and *learning* all at the same time. My kids love it, and they just can’t get enough of it.

We’ve had our LeapTV for awhile now, and it definitely hasn’t gotten “old.” The kids still ask to play with it all the time, and I’m happy to comply when I know they’re going to be learning while they play. My favorite part is that ALL of my kids love it – from Carly (almost 3) all the way up to Zander and Jace (who are 12 and 11). The bigger ones help the little ones, and a fun time is had by all.

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There are so many games to choose from, and something to make everyone happy. From Blaze to Frozen, Paw Patrol to Sophia the First, all of our favorite characters are part of the kids favorite games. It’s a win-win for everyone!

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LeapFrog has been one of my favorite companies to work with, and product like the LeapTV are why! In their kindness, they sent me 2 LeapTV systems, so I’m sharing one with you! That’s right! You get the chance to win your very own LeapTV system and a Letter Factory Adventure game to go with it! How lucky are you?!

What if you don’t win? That’s OK! The LeapTV system is now retailing for just $59.99. That’s a fantastic price for a great product, and it’s worth every penny! No excuses. Now you can use up those gift cards you got for Christmas and make the kids happy. (Which, in turn, will make YOU happy!)

Use the Rafflecopter Gadget below to enter the giveaway. The contest will end January 19th at 11:59pm.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rejoice in His Blessings this Year. Join Me in #Blessings366

At my most recent MOPs meeting, I was talking to some of my fellow moms and telling them that I wanted a break from social media. Facebook becomes a time suck for me. I get so wrapped up in reading and liking posts that before I know it, I’ve spent an hour getting absolutely nothing accomplished.

So, I had decided that I wouldn’t be doing my “Blessing of the day” in 2016 so that I could keep myself off of Facebook.

One of the moms begged me to change my mind. She told me she had gone through some really hard times this past year, and my “Blessings of the day” posts were what helped encourage her to keep looking up. She told me I had no idea how much those daily pictures and posts had helped her, and she couldn’t imagine not having them to look forward to in 2016.

I told her I would pray about it, and the more I did, the more I knew I had to keep sharing. Not just for her, (though I do love knowing it was an encouragement to someone out there!), but because of the effect it had on me. I was able to look back through this past year and see all God brought us through… and there was a lot! God was so good, and even on the hard days, I was still able to find some kind of blessing during that day. It’s been a great way to remember to be grateful, even when times are tough.

#blessings_366

So, I will keep tradition alive, and I will share my blessings each day in 2016. Because it’s a leap year, I’ll have to change the hashtag, so this year, you can find the blessings at #blessings366 on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

I would love it if you would join me. Your photos don’t have to be anything fancy. Just find one blessing every day and share it using the hashtag #blessings366.

If you are committed to participating in #blessings366 this year, grab the button below and put it on your blog. It’ll help remind you to share your blessings with those around you.

#Blessings366
I am excited to see what the Lord does in 2016, and I’m hoping you’ll be a part of it. Let’s give all the glory to our Savior this year and watch the blessings roll in!

Kids in the Outdoors: The Benefits of Outdoor Playtime

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Confined within the house or classroom, your kids may become stir-crazy. Make sure they have an outlet for all their energy, and let them run free outside. Outdoor recreation has been scientifically linked to physical and mental health benefits. Nature can also serve as an outdoor classroom that teaches your children about wildlife and plant life. Regardless of where you live or how old your children are, there are many ways you can incorporate outdoor outings into your family’s routine.

Learn the Benefits of Nature
Time outdoors reaps many benefits that bolster mental and physical health. The mere act of frequent nature outings encourages exercise and an active lifestyle. The University of Essex studied the effects of colors in relation to exercise. The study found that the color green produces better results — less mood disturbances and lower feelings of exertion — than any other color. From this study, it was deduced that the greenery within nature provides an ideal setting for exercise.

Nature helps improve brain function and concentration within children. A study conducted by the National Center for Biology Information found that children with ADHD who spend time outdoors have lessened symptoms. Those who engage in the same activities indoors do not show the same increase of concentration.

The summer sun provides an ample amount of vitamin D, which increases your children’s bone and cell growth, increases their immune functions and provides them with energy. Make sure that your family wears sunscreen that is 30 SPF to be protected from skin damage or cancer.

Make It a Habit
Make outdoor recreation a habit for your family. Schedule time when you and your kids can take walks through your local parks, go on weekend hikes or try new outdoor activities. You can incorporate outdoor activity into your daily routine, even if you have smaller children with some simple solutions. For example, install a kid seat on your bicycle for regular rides around the neighborhood after dinner or to and from school.

The habit of outdoor recreation can be implemented in any environment or weather conditions. If you live in the city and nature isn’t as accessible, many cities have interurban trails or arboretums that are abundant in greenery. If you’re in a colder climate, there are a number of cold-weather activities you can take part in. Equip your kids with the right winter gear, and teach them about snow and ice safety so they can fully enjoy the outdoors in the winter.

Fun Activities
There are plenty of outdoor activities that the entire family can enjoy. Excite and engage your kids with a variety of outdoor games that will keep them outside for as long as possible. Take your family to a park or some fields with a soccer ball for a friendly afternoon scrimmage. Purchase some small, multi-colored cones to place around the field for a game of frisbee golf.

Bird watching is an activity that provides your kids with outdoor time as well as an increased knowledge of all the varieties of birds. Research the best spots for bird watching in your area and bring along a picture guide and a journal. You and your child can make a game of how many types of birds you spot.

You can also take nature walks with your children to identify plants, trees, insects and wildlife. A number of handy outdoor apps will assist in your identification of all the life that lies within nature.

The Lessons Every Good Parent Teaches Their Children

As a parent, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to teaching your children the lessons they need to learn. Here are some of the most important ones that you should focus on to begin with.

That Respect for Others is Vital
Your children are not born with the understanding that respecting the other people around them is important. Many parents seem to think that these things should just happen by themselves. But it’s actually up to parents to show their children that being kind and respectful is important. It’s only then that they will begin to understand and believe what you say. So, you need to show them in practical ways why respect is a good thing. You can do this by only giving them something they want when they show you some respect and talk to you in a polite and considerate way. The message will eventually get through.

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Photo Source

That Mistakes Can be Learned From
Everyone makes mistakes, and you don’t want your children to stress over these basic mistakes too much. That’s why it’s so important to show them that even when something bad happens, or they make a mistake, they can learn from it. It’s the perfect way of showing your children that there are positive things to be taken from every situation. This will then help them to develop a positive view of the world, and that can surely only be a good thing. So, when they or you make a mistake, talk to them about how they can learn from it and not make that mistake again in future.

That There is a Range of Different Beliefs in the World
One of the biggest problems that we have in the world come from a lack of understanding and openness. You don’t want you child to grow into the kind of adult that has no knowledge of other cultures and beliefs, do you? That’s why you need to introduce them to diversity and different beliefs as soon as possible. This doesn’t mean that they have to take up a particular religion or set of beliefs. It’s merely about showing them the diversity that there is in the world. You can do this by exposing them to different religious texts, so why not get them a Bible as a gift?

That Telling the Truth is Always Best
This is the one that every parent knows about, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not hard to get across to a child. Children are not stupid. In fact, they’re very clever and a little cunning. They know that they can sometimes escape trouble or get their way if they tell a little lie here and there. That’s what makes it so difficult to show them that lying isn’t a good thing and that telling the truth is always best. But it is a vitally important lesson and one that they need to learn sooner rather than later. So, when they lie, punish them for it and then show them what the negative consequences of lying are.

Here’s How I Help My Toddlers Walk Further

No two kids are the same. Some will pull themselves up to standing at seven months and then not let go of the furniture until eighteen months. Others will just choose to stand up and run off all in the same day! These things aren’t predictable, but there are plenty of things you can do to help them find their feet and use their legs.

Active kids are healthier kids. Usually, children need no encouragement to run around and play. But it doesn’t hurt to get them out and about and walking as much as possible anyway. Pram shoes aren’t any good for walking around outside. It’s best to wait until your little ones are fitted for their first pair of proper shoes, especially if they’re on their feet early.

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Rheuch is the provider of this picture

Start with walking about indoors. You can play Follow The Leader, or become a human choo choo train to get them up and moving. Turn up the music and do some dancing for a while. All these activities help your toddler to develop core strength and balance. Best of all, it gets them active so they will sleep better at nap time!

Once they’re ready for walking about outside, take their hands so you can stop them falling on the hard ground. You might prefer to take them out in the pushchair to the park. Then they will still have enough stamina to walk around the park a little. If it’s cold, be sure to use your pushchair footmuffs, so the legs and feet don’t get too chilly. Little bursts of walking are all a small toddler needs to make big progress with his walking.

Over time, your little one will be more confident and more skilled at walking. You might be ready to let him walk without holding hands. When you are out and about it is essential you still have hold of him, though. Why not try a backpack with a wrist strap? That way you can stop him running off, but his arms are free for balancing.

Head out for a walk every day. Choose a spot to stop that is a little further away from your starting point every day. This will help your child build up his strength and stamina. Some toddlers get bored, though. You might want to have points of interest and things to see and do on the way. And if your little one decides enough is enough, you may have no choice but to carry him all the way home. Heading out for a reason can help motivate him to see the journey through.

All my big kids were different as toddlers, but they all got through those first tentative steps eventually. If you’re worried your little one isn’t walking, you can speak to your child’s doctor. There is rarely anything to worry about before eighteen months. Try to make a game of it, and add a little extra padding to their trousers just in case! And just think, the next big milestones will be jumping and running!

Exciting Gift Ideas That Any Man Will Love

Whether you’re shopping for your husband, brother or father, choosing gifts for men is never easy. The main problem is that when it comes to buying for him, it can be a real struggle coming up with a fun and unique idea. Often, when we’re gift buying, we ask people what they want, to get a few ideas, but men tend to state that they ‘don’t need anything’. (This is seriously unhelpful and makes shopping for them even harder.)

While picking the perfect gift for the man in your life can be tricky, it doesn’t have to be. To make gift buying a little easier, I thought that I would share a few ideas with you here, that all men are sure to love.

Sports themed gifts

Almost every guy supports one sport or another, so a sports themed gift could be perfect. Think about what his favorite sport is, as well as what team or player he supports, and use this to come up with some gift ideas.

Tickets to watch a match are always a safe bet, as is memorabilia. If he likes to collect stuff, he might love a selection of vintage memorabilia of his favorite sports team or player. You can find some fantastic vintage pieces on selling sites like eBay, so make sure to have a look on there.

If he has always wanted to give a particular sport a try, why not book him in for lessons or an experience day? Men love trying new things, especially if it’s something that they’ve wanted to try for a while.

Gadgets

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Photo source

If the guy that you’re buying for loves messing around with gadgets, something technological could make the perfect gift. The good news is that there are so many options to choose from, that whatever his interests, there should be something that’s perfect.

Ask yourself what his hobbies include. If, for example, he loves taking photos, why not buy him a top of the range camera? It’s important to choose him a gift he’ll cherish and use, so something that relates to an interest he has is a good idea.

Or, for instance, if he’s crazy about remote control cars and helicopters, consider treating him to the ultimate boy’s toy – a drone. These might not come cheap, but if you pick him a good one – check out the Pro Photo UAV website, he’ll have hours of fun with it.

If he doesn’t have a tablet of his own, this could make the perfect gift. Today tablets are affordable to buy and have so many uses, and because of this make great gifts. While ipads are the most sought after device, there are plenty of tablet designs that are just as good and a lot cheaper. (To find out the best makes, have a look online.)

Edible treats

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Image credit: Flickr

If all else fails and you’re stuck for ideas, edible gifts can be a great success. When we think of edible treats, we often think of sweet things. However, savoury foods can also make great gifts. How about treating him to a hamper made up of all his fave treats? Instead of buying the hamper, get creative and make it yourself. Ready made hampers can be a little pricey, so going down the DIY route it best. Plus, that way, you can customize it just for him.

All you need is a basket, some tissue paper, ribbon, and a selection of his favorite food and drink. Pack the hamper with lots of bits and bobs that you know he’ll love, and you can make him the most incredible gift.

So there you have it, my guide to exciting gift ideas that all men will love.