Tips for first time visit Santa Claus

This blog post is sponsored by Macerich/HGTV Santa HQ but all text and opinions are my own.

This time of the year is the most wonderful time especially through kids eyes. Now that my daughter is three and starts to wonder more, we decided to bring her to HGTV’s Santa HQ to meet Santa Claus and of course to capture some photos. Because it was our first time bringing her to see Santa Claus, we did some searching and learned some tips online. I’m going to share what worked for us, but before jumping to the tips, I would love to shout out to HGTV’s Santa HQ.

You may already saw Santa HQ at the malls nearby if are in California, Arizona, Chicago, Metro New York, and the Washington, D.C. corridor. 

HGTV’s Santa HQ revolutionizes the traditional Santa Claus visit by guiding visitors through an immersive, interactive holiday experience with the use of state-of-the-art digital technology. They offer a new, family-friendly experience that features interactive technology to enhance the entire HGTV Santa HQ visit: Elf Academy.
My daughter was so excited when she could transform into one of Santa’s elves and virtually try on various elf outfits with the Magic Mirror.

There are other features I am sure bigger kids will love like creating their customized Elf-ID card using the new Elf-ID app and a “selfie”, exploring Santa’s Observatory through the use of tablets with Elf-Ray Vision, or standing next to an interactive board to find out which of Santa’s lists – Naughty or Nice – they made.

Don’t want to spend long time in line? Purchase the Fass Pass. This will give you the option to select the date, a 30-minute window of time to use Fast Pass, pre-pay online, upgrade their package by adding a family photo weeks/days in advance, and opt-in to receive text reminders about their Fast Pass window.

We’re in Arizona so we went to one in Chandler Fashion Center in Chandler, AZ. If you are in AZ too, visit ShopChandlerFashionCenter.com/SantaHQ to secure a Fast Pass and pre-purchase a photo package.

Not only that your family will have a fun holiday experience, you will help doing good. In past years, HGTV’s Help Through Holiday Giving has collected more than 66,000 toys benefiting local organizations such as Forgotten Angel Tree, Salvation Army Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, and Spark of Love Stuff a Bus.

Let’s watch a short clip I made for our first Santa Claus visit, and then get to the tips that worked for us.

  • Try to talk about it often WITHOUT telling your toddlers that they will get to go visit Santa Claus. Wait for your kids to show interest first. That’s the key and it works perfectly for us in many other situations.
  • Go online and purchase a Fast Pass and secure your spot. Make sure it’s the time you know your kids will be happiest during the day, not nap time (duh).
  • If you shop often at the mall that has HGTV’s Santa HQ, before the booked time, walk by, show your toddlers Santa Claus and how other kids do (talk to Santa Claus, sit with Santa Claus, etc.) to get them the ideas of it.
  • If you toddlers watch Youtube, find some cute holiday videos that have Santa for them to watch. Or you can show your little ones my video above.
  • The night before, I told my daughter that because she ate very well for the day, and was going to sleep early, she would get to meet Santa Claus in the morning. She was super excited and she actually woke up asking to go to the mall.
  • Last tip: Don’t expect your toddlers to do well the first time. They might cry and it’s okay. You can always try again. Mine looked down almost the entire time there then started to feel more comfortable when the photoshoot started. Now that my daughter asks to visit Santa Claus again and wave him every time we walk by.

The magic of Christmas through a child’s eyes is priceless. I want it to last forever. I’m glad there was no tears at all for our first time visiting Santa Claus and we were able to capture the moment. Have you ever brought your kids to Santa HQ? If yes, how did they do?

Ultimate Bed Bath & Beyond Holiday Gift Guide

This blog post is sponsored by Bed Bath & Beyond but all opinions are my own

First off, I hope everyone had a fun Thanksgiving with family. Today is Black Friday and it’s the best time to shop for gifts in my opinion. I’m sharing some gift ideas for everyone in your family. The best part of this gift guide is that you can get them all in one place: Bed Bath & Beyond.

Before jumping into the gift guide, I personally think giving someone you love the Beyond+, a Bed Bath & Beyond membership is the best idea. It’s the perfect present not only for holidays but also for all of life’s biggest moments like graduation, wedding, moving, etc. This membership gives member a 20% off discount site wide.

Whether you are buying gifts for everyone in your own family (including yourself), or for relatives and friends, these items below are very practical that I know whoever receives them could use them everyday.

Now let’s get to the first gift list: Gifts For the Home. I put together a public gift board on Bed Bath & Beyond website that include all the items below where you can shop directly. Click the image below to see.

I have been using Nespresso VertuoPlus coffee machine and been loving it. It’s a gift coffee lovers will be excited to get

This 9pc set of King size bedding is super cute for Springs. It’s on sale now for about $40

This OXO POP Container set I’m sure anyone would appreciate so much because they are a little pricey but so worth the price. The lids of these containers each has a push button with an airtight seal, perfect for dry foods.

You can click directly on the “Gifts for the home” image to see details on all the other items.

The next group of receivers is the one that is hard to buy gift for: new moms. If you don’t know if they already have the item or not, or don’t know if the items below would work for their parenting style, then a Bed Bath & Beyond gift card would be the best option.

Otherwise, these gift ideas below would be very helpful for a new mom (or dad).

DockATot is one of the popular items moms put on their list. It’s the gift that helps making mom life a little easier. I recommend getting the Grand Dock (bigger size) so it would last through toddler stage.

The DockATot helps making transition and travel with babies/toddlers much easier. It’s that pricey item many moms put on their list but still hesitant to splurge. I’m sure a mom would very appreciate to receive this as a gift because it sure worth the price.

If you know they already have it, then click the “Gifts for new moms” image above to see details and shop other items.

Now let’s take a look at the next idea board. This one is so fun to buy gifts for: Pet parents. There are so many pet care items that a pet parent would need compares to the items they might already have.

A cat towel is never a a failed gift for cat parent. I got this Petmaker 4-Tier Cat Tree for my brother’s cat and he loves it.

Give the gift of clean to pet parents. A cordless vacuum would be amazing. This Dyson V7 Motorhead Cord-free Stick Vacuum would make a pet parent so happy.

There are so many cool pet items on BedBathandBeyond.com, a gift card is also a safe choice.

Lastly, I put together a list of amazing Stocking Stuffer ideas. Click the image below to see the whole board with details on every item.

If you decide to give someone a Nespresso coffee machine (listed above), then don’t forget to include a couple pack of Nespresso coffee pods. There are also many other flavors on Bed Bath & Beyond website.

This Silicone Oven mitten from OXO would be a cute useful gift for someone who loves to bake.

The HubPlus Portable Charger from myCharge is a great gift idea for both men and women. It’s compact and provides up to extra 45 hours of battery life.

4 boards above are my entire Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide that you could get everything all at one place: Bed Bath & Beyond. You can also give someone a BEYOND+ Membership which they can get 20% off every single order. Also, a Bed Bath & Beyond gift card will always be the safest choice.

I have shared my ideas, tell me yours in a comment below. If you did a gift guide, send me a link so I could go see it.

Happy Holidays

xo,

Vannie

A must-have for the cold holiday season

This blog post is sponsored by HALLS but all opinions are my own.

It’s getting cold in Arizona

The holiday season is always my busiest time of the year (plus my daughter’s birthday and Traditional Vietnamese New Year). Even though it’s busy and can be a little overwhelming, it’s a joyful season after all, especially with the family holiday trips.

The cold weather gets me every time though. Getting a sore throat or coughing would make the season a little less joy-filled. I’m sure I’m not the only one who easily gets a cough or sore throat during cold months, so here I’m sharing my must-have get well traditions.

HALLS Cough Drops have been staple in our cabinets. They help relieve temporarily relieve irritating coughs and sore throats.

There are a variety of flavors to choose from including Cherry, Honey Lemon, and Metho-Lyptus. My husband likes the Metho-Lyptus flavor while the Cherry flavor is my most favorite.

A cough or sore throat can strike without warning, especially while running around (or traveling) this season. So I have a pack of HALLS Cough Drops in my bag as well.

Side story, I actually got a sore throat last month when the weather started to change. I had a horrible night’s sleep as I started to feel a sore throat coming on. The first thing I did after getting out of the bed was to take a HALLS cough drop. I could feel the temporary relief.

Be prepared for whatever life throws your way, especially during travel. No matter if you are traveling for business or leisure, you don’t want a cough and sore throat to interrupt your day. I highly recommend packing a bag of HALLS Cough Drops with you. They will provide relief and cooling if those symptoms happen.

HALLS brand has always been the brand I trust when it comes to cough/sore throat relief. Having HALLS on hand is very necessary. Let’s stock up your medicine cabinet with HALLS.

Besides, here are my favorite things to do to get well when I have a cold:

-Sipping a cup of hot tea

-Snuggling under a cozy blanket and watch movies

-Take a warm bath

-Shopping online for no reason (spending a little money magically helps haha)

-If you don’t feel too bad, get up, and get some cleaning chores done. The feeling when you overcome the tiredness and finally tackle your to-do list is the best!

Do you have a get well tradition(s) too? Share with me in the comment below.

Xo,

Vannie

5 Ways to Spice Up Your Next Party

Image Credit: Pexels

While attending parties is always a blast, throwing a party can be extremely stressful. After all, you want to make sure everyone is having a great time, and that’s a huge responsibility! If you’re throwing a big shindig and want your guests to have the time of their lives, think outside the box to make it the event of the year. Here are some of our favorite ideas for parties we’d R.S.V.P. for in a heartbeat.

Stick to a theme

Some of the most fun parties are those during the Halloween season. Playing dress-up for a night gives you the chance to play a role and be someone else for the evening. Keep that same feeling all year ‘round with throwing a costume party during any season. A masquerade, 80’s prom, Hawaiian luau, roarin’ 20’s, any reason to dress up (and buy a new outfit!) adds a little something extra to the event. Keep the theme going with the food you serve and in the decor to create the right atmosphere. You can even curate a special playlist for the party to really set the mood.

Hire live entertainment

One way to get a party rolling is to hire a band or DJ for your event. Music is an important piece of any real party, but often, that’s the only type of live entertainment we think of for a party. There are so many other options for talented performers that can make a party unforgettable. For a children’s party, we often think of hiring a clown or a magician, but the same idea works for adult events as well. Circus performers, comedians, or impersonators for hire can give your party a fun vibe and entertain guests during times when there might be a lull in conversation.

Play some games

When you think of party games, you might think of two particular types – one, a slow-moving night of Monopoly with a small group of friends, or two, a rowdy game of beer pong and chugging frat-boy-style. There are so many other options for group activities that you may not have considered that will put the family board game night to shame. There is a board game trend resurfacing in popular culture right now that has resulted in a lot of great games for small and big parties alike. The raunchy Cards Against Humanity is a crowd pleaser that everyone is familiar with. If you like something spooky, give Betrayal at House on the Hill a try, or keep it traditional and host a poker night. Games are a great ice breaker, especially if you’re worried about guests who aren’t acquainted mingling with each other.

Get outside

If you’re throwing a party in one of the warmer months and you have a yard, deck, or outdoor venue available, consider bringing the party outside. If you’re worried about rain, a combination indoor-outdoor party works best. Having some room outside to move around allows guests to move outside for more personal conversations or to get some fresh air. Get creative outside and include picnic blankets, string lights, or a bonfire to create a comfortable atmosphere for a relaxing night. You can even create s’mores bags for guests to enjoy around the campfire or set out cushions and blankets for late-night stargazing. Splurge on a projector and create a drive-in-style party in your yard with a movie projected on the side of the house or a large tarp, and let guests enjoy a movie night under the stars.

Spruce up the menu

It’s always great to have some easy items on hand at a party, like pigs in a blanket or chicken wing dip. Don’t be afraid to get creative with a few menu items, though. If you’re throwing a theme party, keep with the aesthetic and create some unforgettable dishes for your guests. You can even incorporate the menu into the theme and host an event like a sushi-making night. Pinterest is a great place for unique food recipes for parties. A popular party staple right now is a donut wall, dessert bar, or a brunch station for midday parties.

Kid Toys for Toddler

Gifting is fun this Holiday season especially buying gifts for toddlers/kids. As a mom to a toddler, I found it to be so fun and magical for them to open the gifts.

Below is my top 10 picks. Hopefully it is helpful for someone who is looking for kid gift ideas.

1-Mystery box with Kinder Surprise Eggs giftguide3I made this idea for my daughter’s 2nd birthday and it was so fun watching her digging the box to find toys. So I think I would do it again this Christmas. Instead of makeup toys, 15 pieces of Kinder surprise eggs would be perfect. This idea is fun while doesn’t hurt your wallet. I bet kids who receive this will totally love it.

2-Learning Recources Puppy Play setgiftguide2My daughter loves pets. This set is great for her. It is simple and cute. It would make the best first puppy set for toddlers 2+ years old. Learning Recources also has a wide range of toys for all ages.

3-SoulSlings Doll Carriergiftguide6For toddlers who love dolls!!!!! This is the cutest item. I love seeing my daughter wearing her doll using this carrier, just like a mini me. I also have a matching actual toddler carrier which is also from the brand SoulSlings. Adding a cute little lightweight doll is perfect.

4-Kidzlane Piano Matgiftguide4This is a super fun item for 3+ years old. My daughter is a little too young to enjoy all the fun but she loves making random music with her little steps. If you are gifting this to a big kid at 4+ years old, I believe he/she will love it a lot.

5-Playfoam® Pals™ Snowy Friends 12-Pack giftguide8This has been what my daughter watching on youtube. She LOVES seeing others playing with PlayFoam and I know she wanted it too. It is so fun and sastifying playing with these. Yes even I do get attracted. Each pack has a cute animal in it which is the extra fun. Great for family with 2 or more kids.

6-USA Toyz – Snap N’ Glow Trax Light Racer Setgiftguide5This would be the best for boys. Girls also love it, for example my daughter. She will needs to be a little older to play with it longer so I would say it’s great for 4+ years old.

7-USA Toyz – Unicorn Play Tentgiftguide7Now this unicorn little play tent is the girls favorite. It folds compactly just like the size of that box in this pic, and pops up beautifully and roomy. Adding a little unicorn plush toy is perfect.

8-Cubcoats 2-in-1 giftguide1This 2-in-1 stuffed toy transformss into a jacket. How cool is that? It would be the item that both kid and mommy will love. So convenient for on the go.

9-MiniDiva Reborn Baby Doll giftguide9This doll is in new born size and weight. It looks just like a real baby with soft silicone arms & legs. It is the perfect gift for 2+ toddlers who loves playing dolls. Use my code XMAS15% for 15% off.

10-WoomBike – Woom 1 for Toddlergiftguide10This is the very high quality bike for 2.5+ years old. It does say for 1.5 to 5 years old but I personally think my daughter will master it at 2.5 or 3. Love that the seat height is adjustable. This is the great gift for active toddlers.

Those 10 items above are listed in ascending price. Hope that helps too. Any of those items I mentioned is already on your list? Do you have any other item you think must be added in? Comment down below.

10 best gifts for new moms

Tis the season for gifting, everyone loves receiving gifts, especially those with a new baby at home , those who needs some cool gears to make mom life a little easier.

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As a mom myself with a 2 years old daughter. I have been using and experiencing so many of the coolest items made for mom and baby. Here I’m creating a gift guide especially for new moms, based on things I’ve been using or have used in the past.

I’m seperating 2 groups of gifts: Affordable Gifts (Under $100), and Fancy Gifts ($100 and Up). Gifting doesn’t have to be overwhelmed, anything below in my gift guide is very helpful and whoever receive these will totally love them and use them a lot. So no matter it’s pricey or not, let’s take a look closer to 10 gifts hand picked by me !!!

 

AFFORDABLE GIFTS under $100

 

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  1. Aucutee Fan White Noise Macchine

A white noise macchine is always a safe choice. This Aucutee one is my favorite since it’s a pure fan sound that is very comfortable. I did post a review about it on instagram. It is $30 on Amazon with Prime free shipping.

 

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2) Natural Spa Basket

A nourishing and complete spa experience awaits the body, mind and soul with this abundant and expertly curated basket of wholesome, all-natural, organic, dye-free bath and body essentials. This gift basket is perfect for self-care time. It’s $100 plus shipping. Use code AFFGT10off75 for $10 off.

 

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3) Mommy and Baby–Cute as Can Bee

A plush bee holds a collection of all-natural body care products from Burt’s Bees to soothe and nourish mommy and baby’s sensitive skin. Presented in a keepsake wicker basket, everyone will “bee” happy with this adorable gift. This basket includes my favorite brand Burt’s Bee products for both mommy and baby, plus a cute bee plush toy. This gift basket is $70 plus shipping.  Use code AFFGT10off75 for $10 off.

 

giftguide214) Trtl Travel Pillow

The genius travel pillow that everyone is talking about on youtube. They are super soft and hold your neck in a better position than a standard U-shaped travel pillow, while being half the size of a U-shaped travel pillow for easy carrying. Traveling especially traveling with baby is a challenge, giving this item to a mommy would make her holiday trip a little more relax. It’s $30, very affordable and reasonable.

 

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5) Mountain Buggy Bagrider

Speaking about traveling with baby/kid, this amazing luggage is a must. It expands to a 2-in-1 luggage/stroller so your baby/toddler can sit securely on top of it while you’re easily pushing it around. That is the smartest idea. This luggage is $100 on Amazon.

 

 

FANCY GIFTS ($100 and up)

giftguide136) VTech VM4261 – Video Baby Monitor

This $150 baby monitor has 170-degree wide-angle lens that captures the baby as they crawl, play and explore around the room. It comes with a high-resolution, 4.3-inch color LCD screen that can pan, tilt and zoom the camera from the parent unit. It also has soothing sounds and lullabies; two-way, talk-back intercom; and vibrating sound-alert on the parent unit. Overall, this one is a good one that mommy will love.

 

giftguide157) Tula Baby Toddler Carrier (in Blossom)

I’ve been using this carrier a lot. My daughter Misa actually loves being carried and lots of the times she asked me to wear her. So I totally amazed by babywearing. I have the toddler size since Misa is a big toddler. It is $169 each. For new moms with new born babies, I recommend getting the Tula Baby Standard Carrier . There are so many cute prints to choose from. The standard size is $139 each.

 

giftguide118) Dockatot Grand in Carrara Marble

Many moms swear by Dockatots. I doubted it. But then I got it when she turns 1 years old and I regret that I hadn’t bought it when she was born. It is amazing and surprising how much Misa loves it. I don’t have to say much about this since there are tons of great reviews and youtube videos about Dockatot. I have the Grand Dock and recommend it over the Deluxe size. It is pricey so I think go with the bigger size would be a lot better.

 

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9) Milo & Gabby Nap Mat

A set of sleeping bag/ nap mat is ideal for traveling with toddler. These adorable sleeping bags are designed to look like your child’s favorite Milo&Gabby animal characters, with useful details such as a removable duvet insert, detachable pillow and blanket, and a handy storage bag. These are also great to bring for preschool, daycare, and for overnight trips to grandma’s and grandpa’s. They are $168 each.

 

giftguide1910) JetKids BedBox

The one I show here in the photo is the classic one that is currently sold out. They have a new line with new colors and the same features which called BedBox® . The new colors are absolutely beautiful. They would make awesome gift for traveling moms with toddler. With this gear,  a standard economy seat is turned into a first class seat for children in 5 steps. You can click here to see how it works. This item is $200.

 

Those are the 10 items I believe a mom who receive them will be totally obsessed. Hope this gift guide is somewhat helpful during this gifting season. Also, this is my fist gift guide ever so hopefully you guys love it. Another gift guide for toddler will be up live Monday. Stay tune !!!