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We are excitedly preparing for Christmas in our home, and part of that is doing tons of Christmas themed activities. As was the case last year, I put together a busy book and other printables for my little one to use, and he is thoroughly enjoying them.
The latest 27 page release is available only for newsletter subscribers, and currently uploaded to the resource library. You can subscribe here.
What is available in this release? Alphabet and writing activities, craft templates, fine motor/cutting practice, puzzles, color awareness activity, and more! Plus, last year's number and matching activities are also still available for download on the resource library.
This educational busy book has great options for toddlers and preschoolers, and is FREE!
Tips for Creating Your Winter Busy Book
Gather your supplies:
Create your book:
Find more great Christmas activities and content!
Grab a Letter to Santa template (available for free and as an instant download), get ideas for winter and Christmas sensory activities and crafts, and more. Find that all in my Christmas Guide!
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The Best Christmas Books for Kids
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Commissions earned help support my small business, and my participation in this program comes at no added cost to you. You can learn more here.
One of my family's favorite ways to welcome any season is with books. My child is an avid "reader" (I write it that way because he is working on preliteracy skills and loves to read with anyone willing to share a book with him), and with all the excitement of the Christmas season, it is no surprise he has some favorite holiday books this year.
If you are looking to share the spirit of the season with a child in your life, check out these highly rated and family favorite book options!!!
Favorites from Our Home
My child is going through a serious Santa phase right now, but also is beginning to appreciate the story of Jesus' birth. With that in mind, here are his favorite reads this year!!
You can also find location specific versions, including for US cities, states, and even Canada and specific providences!! Here are a few of the ones available:
A few of the other MANY available versions include:
This classic is an obvious candidate for inclusion on any kids Christmas book list, and for good reason! The poem has been a staple in homes during this season for generations now, and the illustrations in this specific book are stunning. If you haven't added it to your Christmas list, I definitely recommend doing so!
My preschooler absolutely loves this board book. It offers an account of Jesus' birth in a simple, easy to understand format, and is short enough to easily keep a toddler's attention. It also has great sensory elements for babies and younger toddlers. If you aren't a Christian family but like to learn about other religious beliefs (maybe you are Unitarian Universalist, an interfaith family, or appreciate world religions and sharing that with your child), this book is great because it isn't too religious. However, it is religious enough to be great for Christian homes, too!
This fresh take on the classic Gingerbread Man story is paired with Jan Brett's typical gorgeous illustrations. A definite favorite for pairing with baking our Christmas cookies and making our gingerbread house each year!!
We love Jan Brett in our home, so it is no surprise that her work is appearing twice on this list. The Wild Christmas Reindeer is about one elf's journey to prepare some rowdy reindeer for their big Christmas flight.... and how she grows as a result!!!
Recommended by Other Families
Because I can't read every book, I've scoured the internet to grab a short list of recommended kids reads. Each of these books is very highly rated from other families (and some I've read myself, too!). Whether you are looking for a classic Christmas book, a secular option, or a religious option, you are sure to find a new book your child will love on this list!
Classic Christmas Books
This book is on our gift list, and we look forward to recommending it next Christmas. This perennial family favorite is a must include on any Christmas book list for its popularity!! It is actually rated #1 for kids books about trains on Amazon!!
PS: While not yet one of my child's favorite books, I do love The Polar Express and can genuinely recommend it to other families!
Like The Polar Express, this best seller isn't just a movie! Dr. Seuss' seasonal classic is a must have in any kids Christmas library.
PS: While not yet one of my child's favorite books, I do love Dr. Seuss books (including this one) and can genuinely recommend it to other families!
Popular Secular Children's Books
My child has a book from this series, and absolutely loves it. If you have a truck obsessed child, Construction Site on Christmas Night is a great inclusion for your library.
Religious Christmas Books
If you are a Christian home looking for scripture based children's books, here are a few highly rated options to consider this year.
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Find the best gifts for everyone on your list with The Mindfully Scientific Mama Holiday Gift Guide 2021!
Be sure to check out my holiday shopping tips for 2021 before you get started!
Find the best products at great prices here!
Hot toys? Check!
Early Black Friday Deals? Check!
Unique, Handmade, or American Made gifts? Check!
Check out lists by topic below:
Gift Lists For Kids
Gift Lists for Adults
Gift Lists for the Entire Family
Find reviews on and recommendations for great gift products here:
Also be sure to check out my Christmas Guide for printables, activities, inspiration, and more.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support my small business. You can learn more here.
Electronics frequently top wishlists, but gadgets get PRICEY. Thankfully, deals abound, and have started early. For a limited time, you can score up to 50% off on tech the entire family will love.
Grab these amazing deals on TVs, headphones, digital camera, smart home devises, and more, before they are gone!
Disclaimer: These deals are current as of Monday 11/15. This post will be updated periodically to reflect changes in sales.
31% Off - iRobot Roomba i6+ (6550) Robot Vacuum
10% Off - GoPro HERO10 Black
Share or Save These Deals!!
Traditions and Ideas to Make Santa Even More Magical!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support my small business. If you would like to learn more, click here.
Santa is a fun part of many families' Christmas celebrations. A prime example of the magic of childhood, Santa is a great way to build excitement for the season. Many of us have Santa traditions from when we were young, but as I've learned from being a parent, there are always ways to make things even more amazing for our children.
Here is some inspiration for how to make the Santa tradition even more magical and exciting this year!
1. Use dedicated wrapping paper for gifts from Santa. Print labels or disguise handwriting on tags.
I remember wondering why Santa used the same wrapping paper as my parents when I was a child. Today, I make sure that Santa sends all gifts with special wrapping paper, and when relevant, tags. You can also use plain brown paper and decorative twine to wrap gifts, which gives a classic look. While younger children won't know the difference, the small details matter a lot in making Christmas all the more magical!
2. Bake cookies for Santa, and leave one or more by the fireplace overnight with milk (or a milk alternative). Make sure to take a bite, or eat it and leave crumbs for Christmas morning! (Bonus: leave carrots for the reindeer)
We started baking cookies for Santa with our child last year, and can't wait to do it again in 2021! Last year we made and decorated fresh gingerbread men on Christmas Eve, and made sure to leave one for Santa. This is a tradition I didn't have as a child, and it is one I've loved bringing into my home. We didn't leave milk out overnight, of course, but we did put some out while our son was awake!!
To make things even more special (remember those details that matter so much?) we have a special Santa cookie plate, and a dedicated mug to leave his milk in.
3. Never give big gifts from Santa; leave small, meaningful gifts that kids will still appreciate.
If you are getting your child the hottest toy or a big/special gift, don't let Santa take the credit. You worked hard to afford that gift!!! Your child will find magic in, and appreciation for, Santa... whatever Santa brings. That said, Santa always sends our children something they will love, not just practical gifts. We just make sure the present is something smaller. Stocking stuffers also come from Santa, which means fun trinkets, tasty (and allergy safe) treats, meaningful mementos like ornaments, and sometimes practical items, too. These gifts only arrive Christmas morning, making the surprise extra special.
4. Write letters or send cards to Santa
My little one was too young to send a letter to Santa last year, but this year he is excited to send a picture! There are tons of ways to make this tradition special, and have it be developmentally appropriate. If your children are very young, letter templates or coloring are nice ways to write to Santa. Older children may want to handwrite a note or create a card. Get creative, and have fun!
Looking for a great letter template? You can also grab your free letter to Santa template here.
5. Start reading Santa books and doing seasonal craft/activities early in the season to build excitement
We usual start with Santa and Christmas everything on Thanksgiving, with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (though this year an early arrival of a Santa book from a family member and missing out on so much last year has lead us to doing a bit of Christmas even earlier). Santa books, Santa and Christmas activities, Christmas movies, decorations..... it is all Christmas, as much as possible!!
Highly Rated Options
6. Focus on your child's heart, not good or bad behavior.
And, Santa watching us when we are sleeping? Well, that is just plain creepy. Okay, we sing the song, but in explaining it? We make sure our kids know that it is just a song. Santa won't be spying through any windows at our home!
7. Visit Santa (in person or virtually), but don't force it.
Visiting Santa can be an exciting tradition, but for some children, it feels more scary than fun. If your child doesn't respond well to strangers in character, or is very shy, consider whether visiting Santa would be less magical and more upsetting. With recent events, virtual Santa visits have become a great alternative to in person!! And, in Westchester, we also have a chance to see Santa at a distance at our local drive through light show. Many other communities offer similar events, so be sure to look and see what is available near you. These distance events are an excellent way to see Santa while not upsetting young, stranger adverse children (and while being safe if there are high case rates in your area).
8. Track Santa on Christmas Eve.
If you aren't already doing so, make sure to track Santa on Christmas Eve! NORAD has an awesome feature allowing families to see where Santa is on his epic journey, so if you haven't used it yet, definitely check it out.
Love these ideas? Be sure to check out my entire Christmas Guide!
And don't forget to make sure you are prepared for holiday shopping with my 2021 holiday shopping tips!
Be sure to save and share these ideas with other families!!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support my small business. You can learn more here.
Sometimes getting our loved ones gifts is easy; they may want the hottest toy or the latest gadget. But what do you get the person who has everything? What do you get someone who is hard to shop for? And, what if you want the convenience of secure purchases and shipping while supporting small businesses? These highly rated products are sure to delight people on your list, while having a convenient purchase process and letting you shop small.
Jewelry and Accessories
Jewelry and accessories are a classic gift sure to make your loved ones smile this holiday. Here are some highly rated ideas to inspire you!
For Her: Stud earrings, American Made and Handmade (these come in a variety of metals and shapes, including sterling silver)
This particularly small business has tons of cute holiday designs, stylish everyday options, and more. You can find the entire storefront here.
AND EVEN MORE!!
For the Spiritualist in Your Life: Palo Santo Bracelet Negative Energy Protection
For the Gardener or Bee Fanatic: Little Gold Bee Necklace • 24k Vermeil Honeybee/Bumblebee Charm
There is no more unique of a gift than a personalized one! Here are some highly rated idea your family and friends are sure to love!
For the Home Chef: Custom Engraved Monogrammed Cutting Board
For the Home Chef or Beloved Baker: Wooden Blank Recipe Book Binder (Personalized)
For the Loved One Far from Home (or, far from you, who lives far from home): Custom Quote Long Distance State Mug
For the person who never has enough space in their bag: Personalized Tote
For the Writer: Personalized Leather Journal
For the Traveler: Personalized Leather Luggage Tags
Home and Kitchen
Fun gifts for the home cooks and home bodies in your life.
Bath and Body
Give the gift of relaxation this holiday season with these highly rated, US crafted products.
Looking for other great gift ideas? Check out my Christmas Guide for links to even more inspiration to help with your holiday shopping, as well as other amazing season content.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Commissions earned support my small business, and my participation in this program comes at no added cost to you. Learn more here.
Keep your family busy this holiday season with fun and easy crafts and activities.
Most of these are geared towards younger children (up to age 8), given I am a parent to one and my teaching background is as a preschool and Grades 1-2 educator, but the Farmhouse Style Decorations are great for teenagers.
Shaving Cream Santa
This sensory activity is super simple to put together and, more importantly, fun! You just need shaving cream and a laminated Santa (you can get your instant download here). Add plastic cutlery, cookie cutters, and more to make things even more fun. You can also practice sensory vocabulary during the activity to make things more educational.
Paper plate and Cotton Ball Santa
This is another simple and fun activity for little ones, and you likely already have everything you need at your house: paper plates, glue, cotton balls, markers, and construction paper (though you could also use colored markers instead). Check out the entire activity here.
Homemade salt dough ornaments are a great holiday gift, as well as a fun sensory and craft activity. You can find my salt dough recipe and tips for creating ornaments and other keepsakes here.
Gingerbread houses and baking cookies are two great activities to do with kids that are tasty as well! Want more ideas? Try marshmallow snowmen (simply use pretzel sticks and frosting to connect them, then decorate with candy and/or cookies! You can also try making winter versions of my sand cups (do snow cups instead; use whipped cream and/or white frosting instead of blue frosting, and find fun Christmas candy as toppings)
Paper Plate Christmas Trees
I'll be sharing an entire blog post on this one, but here are the basics to get you started:
1. Color paper plates using crayons, markers, or colored pencils
2. Fold in quarters. Cut out 1 quarter of the plate.
3. Roll plate into a cone and glue 2 of the 3 quarters together (one on top of the other)
4. Glue pompoms, ribbon, sequences, or other decorations on.
Christmas and Winter Busy Book
Looking for ways to keep your toddler or preschooler occupied, having fun, and learning? Be sure to check out my busy book pages, worksheets, and more!
Great Santa Traditions and Activities
Make this Christmas extra magical with my tips, tricks, and recommendations for making Santa even more special. Find everything from activities, to ideas for the little details, and new traditions to try. You can find the entire post here.
Pretend snow is a great sensory activity for young kids, and easy to make with baking soda and hair conditioner. There are tons of ways to dress the activity up to be more educational, too. Get the recipes and tips for how to use the snow to promote learning here.
Target Chanukah Banner Hack/Create Holiday Banners
Not every activity has to be put together from scratch. Store bought activity kits are great options, and there are tons of ways to hack them to make them even better. One example is this hack we did with a Chanukah banner kit purchased at Target. You can view all the details via my Pinterest Idea Pin here.
For the Adults: Winter Farmhouse Style Decorations
Create beautiful farmhouse style decor for your home with these easy tips. These projects are great for teenagers and adults, and look great year after year. Read the entire post here.
Even More Great Crafts and Activities Coming Soon!!!
In the meantime, be sure to check out my Pinterest for even more great ideas from around the web!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and commissions help support my small business. You can learn more here.
Looking for great toys and games at a great price? Here are some deals I think you will love, on products I think your kids will! The deals found here could change at any time, so grab them while you can (a secondary benefit for shopping early is ensuring holiday gifts arrive by the time you need them)
These products are all from brands my family loves, and each has tons of high ratings.
Note: Prices are current as of publication date, and may vary. Efforts will be made to periodically update deals to reflect the latest pricing and deals.
Save 63% on this Melissa and Doug Fresh Mart Grocery Store Companion Kit. It is normally $56.28, but buy soon and you can get it for $20.51!
SAVE 17% List Price - $10.79 Sale Price - $8.99
My little one loves Melissa and Doug puzzles, and this safari one is on sale! Educational and fun, you can't go wrong!
We love Kid Kraft products in our home, and I found this great set available for a good price (at the moment they are listed at $15.51, but that price may change).
Nearly 42,000 reviews, 4.5 stars, and 10% off the list price? You can't go wrong with this toddler slide!
Another great toy for toddlers, this garage set is 9% off.
This arts and crafts kit has a bit of everything for your budding creator, and has 4.8 Stars with nearly 3500 reviews. While my family hasn't tested the brand, it looks like an amazing option... and deal!
I was obsessed with all things Polly Pocket as a kid, so I *wish* my kid was both old enough and interested in Polly Pocket. To sweeten the deal, you can get this set for 25% off!!
Perfect for your little star, this karaoke kit is adorable and has 4.4. stars!!
If the number of commercials for her new movie while my child watches Paw Patrol and her appearance on Dancing with the Stars is any indication, this is the season of Jojo. And, this Jojo Siwa doll with 4.7 stars is 42% off right now!
My husband has a more advanced version of this drone, and loves it. We've now had it for years, and it is still in great shape. If your child loves electronics and drones, I highly recommend this brand!
The dinosaur version of this coding toy was one of the items we got for my son..... unfortunately it was before it went on sale! My loss is your gain; you can grab this doggy coding toy from Learning Resources for 44% off! You can also get the dinosaur version for 43% off.
My son has had these blocks for 2 years now, and still loves them. You can get them 40% off for a limited time!
Let me start with this; if your child is as obsessed with Paw Patrol as my son is..... I'm sorry. That said, my son's Marshall light up toy has really helped ease bedtime stress. You can grab this Pillow Pet Chase for 22% off right now!
Barbie is forever popular, and there are tons of great deals of Barbie products this holiday season. Be sure to check them out!
2021 has been the year of renewed space travel. Bring that excitement home with this LEGO kit! Or, find other great deals on LEGO toys this year (there are TONS of them). This set is currently 20% off.
Didn't find inspiration here? Check out some of my other kids gift guides here:
And find even more toy gifting inspiration here!
Be sure to share these ideas with other parents, and help them save money on the hottest toys this season!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost for you, and commissions earned help support my small business. You can learn more here.
While Halloween has yet to arrive, Christmas is already on many parents' minds. With supply chain issues prominent, and experts recommending starting your shopping early, many of us have already started preparing for the holidays. But staying organized this far in advance is TOUGH. What are the best holiday shopping tips for 2021? How can you get the best deals on Christmas toys? When should you ideally be shopping to ensure you get that hot toy? Here are some tips for how to keep yourself on track and get everything on your family's wish list this holiday season!
Many experts are recommending to start your shopping now. It may seem early, but high demand and supply shortages may mean that hot toy won't be around later. While it may feel more advisable to wait for Black Friday deals, there are plenty available now (and no guarantee those deals will be around later, since high demand often means higher cost). ABC News offers some great tips for getting you the best deals, now, and recommends not waiting until Black Friday.
START A HOLIDAY WISHLIST ONLINE
Online wishlists, like this one on Amazon, function a lot like gift registries. They are sharable, track gifting so there are no redundant gifts (and kids get exactly what they want from everyone), and even offer the option to send thank you cards. We have been using Amazon to put together gifting lists since I was pregnant with my first, and continue to use them for essentials, Christmas, and birthdays.
SHOP UNIQUE GIFTS
Hot gifts fly off the shelf fast because everyone is searching for them. But handmade and unique gifts are an excellent option because they are special and you may be able to find great deals on beautiful products without the competition. You are also supporting small businesses, and who doesn't love doing that!
DON'T JUST FOCUS ON SHOPPING FOR GIFTS
Supply chain issues aren't just impacting gift supply. They are impacting everything, and that includes decorations, cooking supplies, holiday fashion, and more. Be sure to stock up on these items early to make sure that you have everything you need for your holiday celebrations.
GIVE EXPERIENCES, NOT JUST THINGS
Experiences are a great way to bypass supply chain issues while also giving a meaningful and desirable gift! Some great ideas your children, partners, family, and friends are listed below:
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR DEALS ALL THE TIME!
Deals come and go quickly in today's market. Many companies have been offering early Black Friday deals for some time, so you don't have to wait to grab great products at a great price. To help all you busy parents, I'll be sharing lists of deals periodically, so keep an eye on my blog and social feeds!! (I've been sharing early Black Friday Deals that stick out to me pretty regularly).
Below are a few deals I've found; I'll keep this section updated as much as possible with highly rated products! Sales may vary, and deals may not last, so I can't make guarantees about pricing, but I'll be rotating products based on what is currently hot and on sale!
Save and Share!!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Association, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support this blog (a small business!!). You can learn more about my participation in this program here.
Food allergies are tough to manage on your average day, let alone on holidays or during social events. And while this year holidays look a bit safer for those not having guests coming to celebrate (see the incident with my mother's lip gloss for all you need to know on this subject), even those who are celebrating with immediate family should still be concerned about things like season treats(which may be manufactured differently than the usual products), and potential for allergens in nonfood gifts (like lotions or cosmetics).
Whatever your holidays look like this year, here are some tips to help keep your family safe!
Read the labels, every time!
Even if you have used a product for years, manufacturing practices can change at any time. This is especially true for seasonal specialty products (think those Christmas versions of favorite candies). If you are concerned about cross contact or an allergen not in the top 8, be sure to contact the company directly! There is no legal obligation to list for these in ingredients. Furthermore, cosmetics and lotions may be held to a different standard than food.
If you are getting together with guests outside your household, volunteer to do the cooking, or host.
Even with clear communication, mistakes can happen. Ensure foods are safe by doing the cooking, bringing your own food to a celebration, or (best yet, if you are insistent on getting together with others), hosting. Hosting ensures that you are in control of procedures to limit cross contact (CC) in prep areas. You can also bring your own plates, utensils, or plan to use disposable products to further limit issues with CC.
Clearly communicate your comfort level with anyone you are gathering with; never assume others understand cross contact concerns!
Not comfortable with shared lines or facilities? Communicate this in clear language. Make sure to express concerns with cosmetics or body products that could transfer and cause a reaction as well.
Make sure anyone involved with caretaking has a clear understanding of the patient's allergy action plan.
Better yet, bring a copy as a reference as well as having clear discussions with all appropriate parties! Never leave your child in the care of anyone who does not fully understand the steps to follow in the event of a reaction.
Make sure cosmetics/body products are safe, not just food!
Food isn't the only thing that contains allergens. Many cosmetics and lotions contain nut and seed oils. Never assume a product is safe because you can't eat it!
Finally, always carry 2 epipens, and when in doubt, it is always better to epi than leave the reaction to chance*!
Always follow your individual action plan and listen to your doctor's recommendations first and foremost! Guides like this are great, but your practitioner will know the best steps to keep you or your child safe.
Looking for tips on Top 9 free holiday candy? We love YumEarth!!! Their products (other than candy corn, which is only available around Halloween) are free from Top 9, and their manufacturing facilities are free of Top 9 as well. Best yet? They are delicious!
Be sure to share this to help keep other food allergy patients safe this holiday season!
And be sure to check out Food Allergy Research and Education's webpage to learn more about food allergies. Or check out my food allergy portal for even more about managing food allergies, including recipes, other blog posts, great lists, product recommendations, and more!
May 2020 (Prior to 5/31)
Find more recipes, product recommendations, activities, and more!
View my author page for Westchester County Mom here.
Disclaimer: Content on this website is meant for informational and educational purposes. Nothing found on The Mindfully Scientific Mama constitutes medical or psychological advice. Always consult a profession in the respect field for advice specific to your situation. Read more about this site's terms and conditions here.