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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

10 Ways To Pack More Gratitude Into Your Life

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Inspired ways for families to embrace and celebrate the spirit of the season — and beyond.

By Angela Zimmerman

It happens every holiday: You’re so caught up in shopping, traveling, cooking and planning that you forget to focus on the stuff that really counts. From honoring family traditions and treasuring togetherness to practicing compassion and counting your blessings, the real magic far exceeds the chaos that has come to saturate the season.

This year, why not put gratitude on your to-do list? You’ll feel better, your kids will be happier, and it’ll bring you closer together than any toy or trinket.

Gratitude is a unique character strength in that you can actually teach it to your kids — rather than, say, crossing your fingers and hoping they’ll figure it out. It’s a quality that transcends religion, philosophy, culture and ceremony. It has been scientifically proven to boost happiness.

It doesn’t always come naturally, though. Kids can be self-centered — and with the rampant consumerism at every turn of the holiday season, it can be hard for them to look beyond the shiny storefronts and their own wish lists. But by teaching, modeling, reinforcing and nurturing gratitude, you’re giving your kids a gift that will last well beyond the holidays — and hopefully a lifetime.

Try these tips to really drive the messages home.

Create A Grateful Home Environment

Have a discussion with your kids about what gratitude is and what it means to feel grateful. Find natural ways to weave it into your family life, whether it’s pausing before a meal or ending each day with a moment of reflection. Encourage your kids to think about what they’re grateful for every single day, whether it’s the sun in the sky, the fluffy family dog, or participating in the school play.

Ditch The Gadgets

Put the devices down and spend time together as a family around the dinner table. You don’t have to keep the convo positive 100 percent of the time. But even as you discuss current events or something that happened during your kid’s school day, make an effort to find something to be grateful for. You can always just say, “Thank you for sharing.”

Watch TV  And Movies That Inspire Gratitude

Television shows and movies— especially those with relatable characters and easy-to-follow storylines — make a big impact on kids. Use the time together to teach kids the value of being aware of and thankful for the good things in their lives — and the rewards of taking the time to return kindness.

Play, Read And Watch Together 

Co-viewing and co-playing have proven benefits for kids, beyond just being fun and a bonding experience. Kids of all ages can reap the benefits of being read aloud to, and watching TV or movies as a family offers an opportunity to cuddle and share the experience of seeing and hearing the same thing. And, of course, playing video games as a family promotes teamwork, problem-solving and perseverance — all attributes that make for a well-rounded kid. Take advantage of these times to share your values.

Express Yourself 

Say what you’re grateful for — out loud. You can make it a family ritual or privately capture thoughts in a gratitude journal. Daily, weekly, monthly — any amount of time spent acknowledging all the good stuff in life is a super-beneficial habit.  

Give Back 

Serving others instills in kids a sense of pride and appreciation for their blessings. That can be done financially, through volunteer work or social activism and outreach. Check out this list of charitable apps and sites and this list of online resources that help kids do good

Send Thank-you Notes 

Sending cards through snail mail can really make someone’s day, but sending online thank-you cards or an email is also a valuable way of voicing appreciation.

Read Inspiring Stories 

Reflecting on the hardships that people endure can really put things in perspective. Read the acknowledgements section in a book and discuss whom the author thanked and why. Need ideas? Try books about the Holocaust, memoirs, stories about social justice and grief and books that simply inspire kids to be grateful.

Take A Walk Down Memory Lane 

Flipping through scrapbooks (hard-copy or online) or scrolling through social media memories is a fun way to look back at good times with friends and family. A birthday cake by candlelight, pics of last year’s snowstorm, two friends arm in arm … these memories are precious, and sometimes are just the spark of recollection can brighten a dark day.

Focus On The Positive 

Even in the midst of scary news, endless wonderful things are going on every second around the world. Counterbalance some of the sad stuff. Sites like Good News Network and Today’s Good News vertical are good ones to check out.

 

This article was written by Common Sense Media from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

6 Winter Holiday Traditions from Around the World

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Help your kids get a sense of life in other countries by introducing them to a variety of holiday rituals celebrated around the globe during this time of year.

Here are a few examples to get your crew exploring different cultures—maybe you’ll even create a new family tradition!

Ethiopia: Here, many families celebrate Christmas on January 7—though most people actually refer to the holiday as either Genna or Ganna, after a hockey-like game that is traditionally played on that afternoon.

The Netherlands: Children set out pairs of shoes on the eve of St. Nicholas Day, December 6. In the middle of the night, St. Nick pays a visit, filling the shoes with small treats such as chocolates, candies, and toys.

Italy: Kids write letters to their parents promising good behavior (and apologizing for recent misdeeds), as well as telling them how much they love them. The letters are then placed under Dad’s plate on Christmas Eve; he reads them all aloud once the meal is through.

Mexico: December 28, Day of the Holy Innocents, is celebrated much in the same way as April Fool’s Day. Children—and adults—play innocent pranks. If successful, the trickster gives his victim a candy treat.

Sweden: St. Lucia Day, December 13, is the beginning of the holiday season; one girl in each home dresses as Lucia, patron saint of light, in a white gown and a crown of leaves—and then wakes everyone by bringing a tray of breakfast treats.

Korea: Families celebrate January 1 by making Duk Gook—also spelled Ddeokguk—or rice-cake soup. According to tradition, enjoying a bowlful on New Year’s Day allows everyone to advance a year in age.

Conversation Starters

Use these talking points—provided by the experts at patheos.com, a site dedicated to world religions—to help your kids understand the meaning behind certain traditions.  

Why do people light candles each night of Hanukkah?

“We light them to remind ourselves of an ancient miracle that occurred after invaders of Israel tried to force the Jewish people to practice a different religion. When they refused, the invaders ransacked their temple, destroying almost everything. The Jews pushed them out, then hurried to restore the holy site. The first time they lit the oil lamp, there was only enough oil for one day. Yet to their surprise, it burned for eight days and nights.”

—Rabbi Keith Stern, leader of Temple Beth Avodah, in Newton, Massachusetts

Why does Kwanzaa last for seven days?

“Inspired by many African nations that hold weeklong harvest celebrations, Kwanzaa was created in the U.S. as an African-American holiday. It draws on these traditions in order to connect African Americans to their African heritage. Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to a different principle (including unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith) to help us honor our family, community, and culture.”

—Anthea Butler, Ph.D., associate professor of religion at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia

Why do people exchange Christmas gifts?

“Each year, Christians honor the birth of Jesus more than 2,000 years ago. Shortly after Jesus was born, Magi, often called the wise men, came from the East to Bethlehem and offered the infant gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. As part of the Christmas celebration, we give gifts too—to our friends, family, and the poor and hungry—as a way of remembering the gifts given to Jesus.”

—Rev. Emile R. “Mike” Boutin Jr., co-pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Walpole, Massachusetts

Start Your Own Family Traditions

1. Capture memories

You’ll probably make videos of the gift-giving frenzy anyway, so why not use your phone or camera to record interviews with your kids too? It’s a great way to document their changes from year to year. Try these questions for your annual “exclusive.”

  • What’s your favorite thing we did together as a family this year?
  • Who are your best friends? What do you like about them?
  • How is school this year? Which subject do you enjoy most and why?
  • What do you daydream about?
  • What’s the nicest thing a friend or someone in the family has done for you this year?

2. Lend a hand all year ’round

Volunteering during the holidays gets kids in the habit of helping those in need, but so many families do it that most charities see a huge surge in donations and participation each December—it’s every other time of the year that they need attention. Get your family to keep up the bighearted action in the off-season by…

  • volunteering one afternoon a month at a food bank. For locations, visit feedingamerica.org.
  • sponsoring an underprivileged child abroad. Check out savethechildren.org to make an ongoing impact on someone’s future.
  • asking a local nursing home’s volunteer coordinator about activities your family can help out with regularly, like craft sessions or reading hour.

 

 

Pause and Reflect

3. Pause and reflect

Give your family a chance to think during the holiday rush: During December, share a half-minute of silence each night at dinner. Tell the kids to focus on whatever they like—something good that happened that they’re grateful for, positive thoughts for a sick friend, a wish for the coming year. These moments together each day will help you feel more calm, connected, and appreciative of what you have the rest of the year too.

4. Steal these reader rituals

A unique tradition teaches kids that they’re part of something special—your family—and binds this holiday to future ones.

“One year, the day before Christmas, I was about to snap. So I threw food in a pack and told my family we were having a picnic. Though confused, they went along with it. We live in a mountain valley, so getting to a secluded spot was easy. The downside: It was so cold that the food froze! Our ‘Doomsday Picnic’ has become a tradition (we go better prepared now!). It’s a time to relax—we love it.” —Lynnette F. Harris; Millville, Utah

“Every year during the holidays our entire family sits down to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It makes us realize that we are not as dysfunctional as we might think!” —Betsy Gravalec; Marietta, Georgia

“To help our kids really understand the holiday, on Christmas morning we throw a birthday party—complete with cake—to celebrate Jesus’s birth. Sometimes the kids seem as excited about the balloons as they are about the gifts!” —Kelly Wilson Mason; Ohio

“Rather than giving gifts to all 17 family members, we each draw a name and then give the money we would have spent on Hanukkah gifts for everyone else as a donation to charity. Before opening presents, we all share what we did with the money to benefit someone less privileged than we are.” —Carol Hochman Dierksen; Orlando, Florida

“Every year, when the first snow falls I make ‘First Day of Snow’ fudge, just like my mom did. You could make it any time, but it just wouldn’t taste the same.” —Kris Wittenberg; Eagle, Colorado

 

This article was written by Jane Nussbaum from Parents and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

25 thoughtful gifts for teachers to thank them around the holidays

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The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.


driftaway coffee gifts mother's day
Teachers form the backbone of our educational system. They teach us everything we need to know in and beyond the classroom, and with endless enthusiasm, patience, and compassion along the way.

As the year winds down, it’s only proper to show them some love and appreciation. Teaching any age group — kids, teens, adults — is a difficult job that most of us can only attempt to understand. So, as you say goodbye before winter break, make sure to give your teacher the thanks they deserve. 

They have more than enough mugs in their cabinet by now that you probably shouldn’t default to giving them one, no matter how witty the slogan on it is. Instead, give them one of these 25 thoughtful and useful gifts. If you’re not already one of their favorite students, you surely will be after they receive something from this list.

A fragrant candle

 

Otherland

Gift an Otherland Candle, $36

These sophisticated coconut and soy wax candles come in scents ranging from refreshing Canopy (fig, ivy greens, mint) to rich Chandelier (champagne, saffron, leather). The beautiful look, delightful scents, and personalized matchbox make this candle gifting experience special

A detailed poster of the opening lines from famous novels

 

Pop Chart Lab

Gift the Pop Chart Lab ‘Diagrammatical Dissertation on Opening Lines of Notable Novels’, $30

English and grammar teachers will appreciate this chart diagramming the opening lines from 25 famous works of fiction. After admiring the partitioned, color-coded picto-grammatical representations, they’ll want to read the books all over again. 

A portable tea set

 

Nordstrom

Gift the Zens Mobile Moon Portable Tea Set, $49.99

Don’t just give them the tea infuser. Give them the cups and a handy carrying case, too, so they can enjoy a hot cup at work or at home. The glass teapot has an integrated infuser plus two indentations for easy holding, and the tea cups are double-walled and resistant to high temperatures. All the pieces fit snugly in the eye-catching hardshell case so they can take their favorite tea from home to school and beyond. 

A cell phone stand

 

Amazon

Gift the Lamicall Cell Phone Stand, $9.99

The simple, sleek, and durable stand is the perfect way to keep their device upright at just the right angle as they work. While it’s a no-frills gift, it’s undoubtedly practical and useful. 

A fun tape dispenser

 

Amazon

Gift the Otto the Otter Tape Dispenser, $12.29

A cute twist to the traditional, ugly tape dispenser will instantly liven up their desk. 

Summer-themed leather luggage stickers

 

Away

Gift the Away Pool Stickers, $15

Teachers are just as happy as their students to start summer vacation. These carefree, colorful stickers for their luggage set the mood for the sunny summer ahead. 

A small potted plant for their desk

 

The Sill

Gift the Snake Plant Zeylanica, $11

Instead of gifting a flower bouquet, try an indoor plant. It lasts longer and requires less maintenance, but livens up their desk just as well. 

A unique bookend

 

UncommonGoods

Gift the Hero Bookend, $25

Whether they’re used in the classroom or for your teacher’s personal collection, or for lesson planbooks or comic books, these bookends make for a quirky gift. 

Rich chocolate-covered strawberries

 

Shari’s Berries

Gift Shari’s Berries Gourmet Dipped Fancy Strawberries, from $24.99

The top spot in our book for the best chocolate berries goes to Shari’s Berries, whose hand-dipped white, milk, and dark chocolate strawberries have our mouths watering just thinking about them. They’ll arrive chilled with an ice pack so you don’t need to worry about a mess arriving at your teacher’s door. 

A custom rubber stamp

 

Etsy

Gift a Custom Stamp, from $15

Gift the stamp they’ll always reach for first as they check and grade homework. You can get creative by submitting a picture of your teacher’s face or their favorite catchphrase. There are three different mount choices and many more size options. 

A coloring book full of phrases your teacher can relate all too well to

 

Amazon

Gift the Teacher Life: A Snarky Chalkboard Coloring Book, $8.99

There are some situations that only teachers can understand, and this adult coloring book perfectly captures them with humor and cheekiness. The illustrations are single-sided, so they can take the page out and frame it if they so wish. 

A coffee subscription

 

Driftaway Coffee Instagram

Gift a Driftaway Coffee subscription, from $39

Chances are the coffee in the teacher’s lounge isn’t exactly top-notch. Thankfully, Driftaway Coffee’s is, and keeps things interesting by sending new whole bean varieties every month and improving upon the next selection based on their feedback. By the end of the school year, your teacher will have a good idea of the type of coffee they really like. 

A personalized desk sign

 

Etsy

Gift the Personalized Desk Wedge Sign, $19.99-$29.99

The wedge is a solid natural hardwood while the sign is shatter-resistant fogged acrylic glass, allowing it to last through any teacher’s illustrious career. 

Mini hand sanitizers

 

Olika

Gift the Olika Minnie 3-Pack, $19.49

Sister to the original Birdie hand sanitizer that’s trying to disrupt an oft-overlooked industry, the Minnie is the perfect little desktop and handbag companion. Your teacher’s hands are bound to get dirty while interacting with a room full of kids, but this nourishing, non-irritating formula will fix that. 

A personalized notebook, planner, or address book

 

Minted

Gift the Teach From The Heart Notebook, from $16

Give this one to the best teacher you know. You’ll be able to customize the cover design, interior cover, and interior format of the notebook. 

A novelty USB flash drive

 

Amazon

Gift the Classic Volkswagen USB 2.0 Flash Drive, $19.99

The wheels actually move and the headlights flash when they plug the stick into their device. This is one flash drive they’re won’t easily lose. 

A thank you card

 

Etsy

Gift the Donut Teacher Card, $7.29

Sometimes all it takes is a simple note to show your appreciation. Include a thoughtful, hand-written note to thank your teacher for all their hard work this year, and it will go a long way in helping them remember you. 

A pillow massager for their neck and back

 

Amazon

Gift the Zyllion Shiatsu Pillow Massager, $44.95

If you’ve ever caught your teacher looking stressed or tense, you’re probably partially to blame — but you can fix that with this heated at-home massager that feels almost like a professional massage. It has four deep-kneading rotating nodes to relieve aches, knots and muscle tension. 

A tote bag

 

BAGGU

Gift the BAGGU Giant Pocket Tote, $20

BAGGU makes great bags and its machine-washable cotton totes are no exception. Help your teacher carry all those lesson plans, tests, and homework papers with this cute yet sturdy tote. 

Gift cards

 

Target

Buy a gift card from: Amazon, Target, Staples

At the end of the day, teachers will always appreciate a gift card, especially if it’s to a store where they can stock up on supplies. 

Comfortable waffle slippers

 

Parachute

Gift the Parachute Waffle Slippers, $29

These cushioned slippers are made with 100% long-staple Turkish cotton for extra absorbency and comfort. Ideal for lounging and relaxing, they’ll bring a feeling of everyday luxury, but without the luxury price tag.  

A smart home device

 

Amazon

Gift the Amazon Echo Dot, $19.99

In and outside the classroom, the small smart home device is endlessly useful. They can play Jeopardy, ask for recipes, listen to the news, turn lights on, play music, reorder products, and more. 

An organizer that looks like a common office supply

 

Urban Outfitters

Gift the Oversized Paper Clip Note Organizer, $12

This oversized paper clip is even more useful than its original form because it can hold and organize multiple pieces of paper, postcards, and photos.

A personalized key ring

 

Leatherology/Instagram

Gift the Leatherology Hotel Keychain, $15

The full grain leather keychain is a perfectly composed accessory that they’ll love to carry, especially if you personalize it (for only $5) with a monogram. 

Beautiful note cubes inspired by an American artist

 

The Met Store

Gift the Louis C. Tiffany Favrile Note Cube Set, $35

Known for his stained glass work, Louis C. Tiffany lends his colorful and delicate designs to these trays, which hold 500 loose paper sheets and 50 color paper clips. 

This article was written by Connie Chen from Business Insider and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

4 Shortcuts to the Most Impressive Holiday Cookies I’ve Ever Made—And They’re No-Bake

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How does she do it? Cheating of course. My secrets for deceptively fancy holiday cookies.

My Nutella Cones with Hazelnut Praline are the type of easy-to-make, destined-to-impress shortcut cookie recipe this (and every) holiday season needs. They’re inspired by the Nutty Buddy, an ice cream filled, chocolate dipped, peanut sprinkled number. But seeing as it’s December, an ice cream filling isn’t appropriate. So, I swapped the frozen stuff for Nutella, threw in a few other pre-made shortcuts, and came up with the fanciest, easiest cookies I’ve ever made. And they’re no-bake to boot.

Instead of making every part from scratch, I put together a cookie shortcut dream team. The result? A stunning and stunningly simple cookie guaranteed to make you the countess of the cookie swap.

Don’t tell anybody, but these are my secret shortcuts:

The Cone

A simple sugar cone offers the same slightly sweet, cracker-like experience of my first favorite snack, Barnum’s Animal Crackers. They’re just the right texture and not-too-sweet base for what becomes a decadent finished product. I ordered these mini cones from amazon.com (actually, looks like I got the last box!) but you can use a serrated knife to trim the tops off of regular-sized sugar cones. Use the leftover cone bits in place of graham crackers for a delicious press-in crust. (Try it in this sweet potato pie.)

The Creamy Center

Nutella behaves a little like a homemade ganache—a spreadable mixture of chocolate and cream often used to fill truffles or no-bake pies. It holds its shape but stays pliable at room temperature making it the perfect shortcut filling for my (alternate name) Winter BuddiesTM. For extra texture, I folded in a handful of toasted hazelnuts but you could use toasted almonds or salted peanuts if you want. The nutty filberts help balance the sweetness of the Nutella but if you’re a No Nuts Person you can leave them out.

The Crispy Shell

To create the crispy outer shell, I made a homemade version of “Magic Shell”—an easy-to-make combo of chopped chocolate and coconut oil—but you could definitely use the pre-made stuff.

The shell does two things: first, it lines the cones with a water-tight chocolate seal. Without this coating, the cones get soggy as they soak up moisture from the Nutella filling. You can skip it, but the cones will lose their crunch after about 8 hours. Once your cones are filled with the nutty Nutella mixture, you’ll dip the finished bites in more magic shell to contain the gooey interior.

The Sparkle

Crushed hazelnut praline adds a sparkly finish to these otherwise brown on brown treats. I made a homemade praline but you can use store-bought candied nuts (or those rectangular sesame candies) for a similar effect. Or, skip the molten sugar part and top the cones with more chopped nuts. Just be sure to add them while that outer coating of magic shell is slightly tacky so they stick.

And if all this still feels too fancy, tie a big ribbon around your favorite box and call it a (holi)day. For more homemade cookie inspiration, check out some of our favorite cookie recipes here.

 

This article was written by Dawn Perry from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

7 Ways to Show Gratitude This Holiday Season

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The holidays are here, and as per usual, they’re busy and hectic and make you want to swap swear words into “Little Drummer Boy.” To make sure you don’t let the season fly by without recognizing how fortunate you really are, try out one of these seven ways to show gratitude. 

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Send Holiday Cards 

No, it doesn’t have to be a whole production with a photo shoot and monogrammed envelopes. The point is to let the people you love know that you’re thinking about them and grateful for all they do. Find a pretty, festive design (we’re obsessed with all of Rifle Paper Co.’s holiday options) and spend a little time sending holiday greetings to your nearest and dearest. 

twenty20

Start a Daily Gratitude Journal 

We know what you’re thinking: I don’t have time for this. But before you rule it out, try it for a day or two. Keep a little notebook next to your bed, and when you wake up in the morning, jot down one to three things you’re thankful for. Say, your daily coffee, or your health. 

twenty20

Go Wild With Compliments 

You know when a total stranger compliments you and it makes your whole day? Pay it forward and let that gal at the Starbucks know when you love her scarf or lip color (just make sure you’re genuine). It’s a small way to make someone else—and in turn, yourself—feel good. 

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Volunteer 

Raise your hand if you frequently think to yourself, “I should really give back more,” only to let other things take priority. *Raises hand sheepishly* This season, make good on your promise and spend some time helping people who aren’t as fortunate as you are. Check out Volunteer Match, a volunteer engagement network that can help you find opportunities to give back in your area. (A quick scroll in NYC found listings for helping seniors care for their dogs and becoming a reading partner for a local child.)

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Hand-Write Thank You Notes 

Hand-Write Thank-You Notes 

Whether it’s a fancy sweater from your mom or homemade cookies from your desk-mate, take the time to hand-write a thank-you note. It’s so much more personal than a text or email, and takes little to no extra effort. (Especially if you stock up on greeting cards in advance.) 

Thank the People Who Make Your Life Run Smoothly

Think: Trash collectors, mail carriers, dog walkers and even your go-to manicurist. Give them a written or in-person thank you, along with a monetary token of your appreciation: This handy guide can tell you how much to tip.

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Teach Your Kids Gratitude

Now that you’ve got the whole gratitude thing down pat, teach the younger folks in your life that the holidays are about more than just gift-getting. Maybe it’s encouraging them to pick out a toy for a local charity drive. Maybe it’s spending a day with them at a soup kitchen. Either way, set the example that giving and thanking are just as important as receiving. They’re little sponges, after all.

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

25 Creative Elf on the Shelf Ideas That Take 5 Minutes or Less

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These quick and easy ideas will make moving your Elf so much easier every night.

It’s Elf on the Shelf season again, otherwise known as the time of year when parents everywhere scramble to move the doll before their kids wake up. We don’t blame you if you opt out, or just hide him in the fridge for the 14th time. But if you want to step up your game this year and surprise your kids with the Elf’s impish shenanigans, it’s actually easier than you think. We’ve rounded up some of the funniest and most creative Elf on the Shelf ideas on the Internet. The best part: Creating these funny scenes takes less than five minutes, and if you’ve got string, marshmallows and toilet paper at home, that’s pretty much all you need. Check out everything Elf can do this holiday season:

Trap your kid

Hang out with the Minions

 

Elf on the Shelf Banana

 

All you need is a Sharpie and a bunch of bananas. Via Fancy Shanty

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Get tied to the tracks

 

Elf on the Railroad

 

If your kid’s a train fanatic, just wrap Elf up in tape or twine and toss him on the track. Via Fancy Shanty

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Get all rolled up

 

Elf on the Shelf Toilet Paper

 

Uh-oh, looks like Elf got wrapped up in toilet paper and tossed down the stairs. Via Fancy Shanty

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Hit the gym

 

Elf on the Shelf Gym

 

All you need is a straw and two marshmallows to make it look like Elf is pumping serious iron. Via Dirty Diaper Laundry

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Scarf down popcorn.

 

Elf on the Shelf Popcorn

 

Stash Elf in the microwave and it will entertain your kids for at least 20 minutes trying to find him. Via Just a Little Creativity

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Get tucked in a bun.

 

Elf on the Shelf Hot Dog

 

Elf tastes better with ketchup and mustard. Via Just a Little Creativity

justalittlecreativity.com

Make snow angels.

 

Elf on the Shelf Snow Angel

 

All you need is rice, flour, sprinkles, sugar or pretty much anything for Elf to make snow angels. Via Lil Blue Boo

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TP the Christmas tree.

 

Elf on the Shelf TP Christmas Tree

 

But not too much. You still have to clean it up, after all. Via Lil Blue Boo

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Email Santa.

 

Elf on the Shelf Email Santa

 

Just think of all the behavior reports Elf could make to the North Pole! Via Lil Blue Boo

lilblueboo.com

Do yoga with friends.

 

Elf on the Shelf Yoga

 

He IS pretty flexible after all. Via Picklehead Soup

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Make mischief.

 

elf on the shelf family photo idea

 

All you need is a dry erase marker, your favorite family photo and a sense of humor. Via Mandy with Multiples

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Be the Sexiest Elf Alive.

 

Elf on the Shelf People Magazine

 

Or, he can be on the cover of any other magazine you have lying around. Via Picklehead Soup

pickleheadsoup.blogspot.com

Bust out of a box of Cereal.

 

Elf on the Shelf Cereal Box

 

That’ll give the kids a laugh when they go to make a bowl. Via Picklehead Soup

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Get stuck in the snack jar.

 

Elf on the Shelf in a Snack Jar

 

Any clear jar or container (or even a glass flipped upside down) works for this one. Via Picklehead Soup

pickleheadsoup.blogspot.com

Take a bubble bath.

 

Elf on the Shelf Bubble Bath

 

In marshmallows, that is. Mmmm, relaxing and delicious. Via Bombshell Bling

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Go fishing

 

Elf on the Shelf Fishing

 

Just round up a pencil, string and some goldfish, and you’re done. Via Rocking My 365 Project

Courtesy of rockingmy365project.wordpress.com

Go sledding

 

Elf on the Shelf Sledding

 

All you need is an empty toilet paper roll, cardboard and string, and Elf can have a snow day adventure. Via My Mommy Style

mymommystyle.com

Lead story time

 

Elf on the Shelf Story Time

 

“See, kids, Elf loves reading!” Via My Mommy Style

mymommystyle.com

Go on a date with Barbie

 

Elf on the Shelf on a Date

 

Can you feel the love tonight? Via Elf on the Shelf Ideas

elfontheshelfideas.com

Nurse a milk and cookies hangover

 

Elf on the Shelf Too Many Cookies

 

He partied a little too hard on Christmas Eve. Via Just a Little Creativity

justalittlecreativity.com

Toast marshmallows

 

Elf on the Shelf Toasting Marshmallows

 

The best part? You can eat the marshmallows when he’s done. Via Just a Little Creativity

justalittlecreativity.com

Climb the Christmas tree

 

Elf on the Shelf Climbs the Tree

 

He’s a pretty rugged little elf. Via Just a Little Creativity

justalittlecreativity.com

Sip orange juice

 

Elf on the Shelf Drinks Orange Juice

 

Elf needs his vitamin C too. Via Frugal Coupon Living

frugalcouponliving.com

Work as a mechanic

 

Elf on the Shelf Mechanic

 

I hear he charges a very reasonable rate. Via Frugal Coupon Living

frugalcouponliving.com

 

This article was written by Audrey Goodson Kingo from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

This Easy Elf-on-the-Shelf Hack is a Dream If You Need to Declutter

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It also teaches your kids an important lesson.

Elf on the Shelf has become a polarizing holiday tradition for many working moms. Yes, it’s cute and gets kids excited for Christmas, but it’s also a pain to change the elf’s position every day. That’s why we love this popular elf idea that keeps things simple for parents and even helps cut down on clutter around the house.

A photo of the genius hack went viral after it was shared on Facebook last week. The picture shows the famous elf perched on a Christmas tree holding a sign with the message, “You got to give to get.”

The sign continues to explain to the kids that their elf “Trixie” is going to be collecting toys to take to the North Pole this year, and they will be given to other kids in need. The parents also put a basket under the tree for the kids to fill up with old toys they don’t use or want anymore.

The hack is perfect for parents who are desperate to get rid of rarely-used toys that take up space—especially since the holidays are sure to add more to the collection. While some kids may normally be reluctant to part with them, they are unlikely to say no to the elf who is delivering a message from North Pole. You can encourage your kids to get rid of clutter without dogging their footsteps up or doing the work yourself.

In addition to clearing up some room in your home, it also helps teach your kids a lesson about giving and helping others. It may even inspire them to volunteer toys to be donated to needy children all year round.

Since it was posted on Facebook last week, the photo has been shared over 158,000 times and has received thousands of comments from parents who are in love with the idea. Unfortunately, the person who first shared the photo doesn’t know where it originated, so we can’t extend our thanks to the savvy mom who came up with this novel hack.

It’s also worth mentioning you can use this trick to avoid coming up with creative ideas for rearranging the elf every evening. Just set a deadline for donations and keep him posted all season long. Now that’s what we call a win for everyone involved.

 

This article was written by Joseph Barberio from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

16 Last-Minute Halloween Costumes for Busy Moms and Kids

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Easy outfits you can create with stuff you probably already have in your home.

Whether your child or you had a change of heart about your initial Halloween attire, or you just haven’t thought about costume ideas until now, no worries—it’s going to be all right. With limited time and supplies, you just need to get creative with what you’ve got. And you know what? Sometimes DIY costumes look better than their in-store equivalents (even if they did only take 10 minutes and a few dollars to make). We’ve gathered 16 adorbs Halloween costume ideas for both your kids and yourself to make last-minute, using clothes and materials you already have at home (well, maybe just a few supplies from your local crafts store).

The Aerobics Instructor

Even your baby can get in on dressing up for Halloween by going as a rad, retro aerobics instructor. So cute! The recipe for this costume is super simple: put your baby’s pants on before putting on the bodysuit, and then add DIY legwarmers and a headband. Make sure, of course, to keep the color scheme fun, neon or bright. To get even more festive, create a felt boombox—it’ll make your already adorable Halloween pics of your baby even better.

You’ll Need:
Neon-colored baby suit or Primary The Baby Suit ($8, or $7 for 3+, primary.com)
Neon-colored babypants or Primary The Babypants ($10, or $9 each for 3+, primary.com)
Headband
Old socks to be cut into leg warmers
Scissors

Directions:
For the headband: Any soft headband will work here. Fun colors and patterns are the best!

For the legwarmers: Cut the feet off of old socks for instant baby leg warmers.

Pro tip: Make sure the baby pants are UNDER the babysuit for the full effect!

To dress up your kid or yourself, wear a tank or t-shirt in a neon color and shorts layered over funky patterned leggings. Complete the look with legwarmers created from old socks, a headband and sneakers.

The Scarecrow

 

Scarecrow Halloween Costume

 

Dressing up as a scarecrow never fails.

Photo: iStock

Scarecrows are supposed to be frightening, but on Halloween, they’re totally cute! For this unisex costume that works for adults or kids, pair jeans with a flannel plaid button down, boots and a floppy hat. Tie a bandana around the neck, draw on some scarecrow makeup, and, if you can, have cornhusks stick out from your hat, sleeves and jeans.

You’ll Need:
Plaid shirt
Jeans
Boots
Floppy hat
Corn husks
Black eyeliner

Rosie the Riveter

 

Rosie the Riveter Halloween Costume

 

Girl power!

Photo: iStock

To represent this cultural icon on Halloween, it’s all about the blue button down (chambray, preferred, and with sleeves rolled up) paired with black or denim pants and work boots. Then tie a small red bandana or red and white polka dot scarf around your head like a headband. The finishing touch: a swipe of bright red lipstick. And don’t forget to flex those muscles for every photo op!

You’ll Need:
Chambray or denim button down
Black pants
Work boots
Red scarf
Red lipstick

The Crayons

 

Primary Crayons Halloween Costume

 

For a group costume, have every person in your family dress up as a different colored crayon.

Courtesy of Primary

Here’s another costume idea requiring clothes you can easily use for another purpose outside of Halloween, or clothes your kid already has in his closet. All you have to do is create a hat and anklet.

You’ll Need:
Regular long sleeve solid-colored pajama top or Primary The Long Sleeve PJ Top ($12, or $11 each for 3+, primary.com)
Regular solid-colored pajama bottom or Primary The PJ Pant ($12 or $11 each for 3+, primary.com)
Sturdy paper to match the PJs
Scissors
Ribbon in color matching the PJs (about 40 inches)
Glue Black felt (long enough to wrap around both ankles)
Double-sided fabric tape

Directions:
For the hat: Find sturdy paper the same color as your PJs and form a cone. Trim the top of the cone to create a blunt, flat top. Cut out a circle for the brim of the crayon and place it over the cone and trace cone in the center. Cut out the center circle, leaving a ring that will become the brim. In the opening of the cone, make a series of 1-inch cuts around the open edge of the cone and fold them outward to create tabs. Fit the brim ring over the top of the cone and attach the tabs to the brim using glue or tape. Cut a series of 1-inch strips of paper and join them to make one long strip. Wrap the strip around the brim of the hat and use a few pieces of masking tape to fit it snugly. Then glue the seam together and allow to dry completely before removing the tape. Finally, glue two ribbons (about 20 inches on each side of the brim) to tie under the neck.

For the anklets: Cut a zig-zag pattern out of a strip of black felt and attach to ankles using double-sided fabric tape.

The Skeleton

 

Fiskars Halloween Skeleton Costume

 

If there’s time, draw skeleton makeup on your child’s face, or buy a skeleton mask.

Courtesy of Fiskars

Does your kid have an old black shirt your kid he never wears anymore? Flip it inside out, and use it to create this creepy skeleton costume. Be aware though: you’re going to have to cut it up!

You’ll Need:
Fiskars RazorEdge™ Easy Action™ Fabric Shears for Tabletop Cutting or other scissors
Black t-shirt
White t-shirt
Marker
Freezer paper

Directions:
Trim a piece of freezer paper to approximately the size of the front of the black t-shirt. Use a marker to draw a rib cage design on the freezer paper and iron it to the front of the black t-shirt. Use the shears to carefully cut out the rib cage design. Cut through the fabric of the t-shirt and the freezer paper together. Remove the freezer paper. Wear the cut black t-shirt with a white t-shirt underneath for a quick spooky homemade costume idea. Add any skeleton mask for added eeriness.

Audrey Hepburn

 

Audrey Hepburn Halloween Costume

 

To make yourself look even more like Audrey, fill in and define your brows with brow powder or pencil.

Photo: iStock

For this elegant retro look, now is the time to bust out your favorite little black dress and pearl necklaces so you resemble Audrey Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Put your hair in a bun, wear heels, add some long black gloves, and you’re done.

You’ll Need:
Little black dress
Black heels
Long black gloves
Pearl necklace
Optional: Tiara

The Clown

 

Primary Halloween Clown Costume

 

Bright red wig not required.

Courtesy of Primary

Dress up PJs in with pom-poms and a paper collar for a fun and cute kid’s clown costume.

You’ll Need:
Solid-colored long sleeve pajama top or Primary The Long Sleeve PJ Top ($12, or $11 each for 3+, primary.com)
Solid-colored pajama pant or Primary the PJ Pant ($12, or $11 each for 3+, primary.com)
Sturdy cardstock
Pom-poms
Scissors
Glue
Double-sided fabric tape
Optional: clown nose and clown makeup

Directions:
For the hat: Glue a pom-pom on top of a simple paper party hat. Easy peasy.

For the collar: Use sturdy cardstock to fold into a fan and attach it to a paper collar, measured for the child’s neck. Secure the collar with sturdy tape or a paper clip.

For the clown suit: Use double-sided fabric tape to attach two or three big pom-poms down the torso.

The Ballerina

 

Halloween the Leotard Boutique Ballerina Costume

 

Adding glitter is totally optional.

Courtesy of the Leotard Boutique

For this kid costume, you can use an actual leotard and tutu, or substitute in a short-sleeve top and flutter skirt. Add in tights and ballet flats, put your kid’s hair in a bun, and you’re good to go.

You’ll Need
Pastel-colored short sleeve top or The Leotard Boutique Short Sleeve Leotard ($15, theleotardboutique.com) Tutu skirt or The Leotard Boutique Flutter Ballet Dance Skirt ($13, theleotardboutique.com)
Tights
Ballet flats

The Unicorn

 

Primary Halloween Unicorn Costume

 

Again, glittery is totally optional, but very preferred.

Courtesy of Primary

What child doesn’t own a hoodie and pj pants? The key here is choosing a pastel color for these pieces that’s reminiscent of the shades you’d find in My Little Pony—and of course, DIYing a horn, ears, mane and tail.

You’ll Need:
Plain, pastel-colored hoodie or Primary The New Hoodie ($20, or $18 each for 3+, primary.com)
Plain, pastel-colored pants or Primary The PJ Pant ($12, or $11 each for 3+, primary.com)
White felt
Pink felt
Gold metallic cord
Headband
Glue gun
Scissors

Directions:
For the horn and ears: With white felt, create a tall cone, then wrap it in gold metallic cord and hot glue it to the cone. Cut a small circle of white felt and glue to the bottom of the cone to close the hole. Tape or glue the horn to a headband. Next, cut 2 large tear-drop shapes from the white felt and 2 smaller tear-drop shapes from the pink felt. Glue the pink felt on top of the white felt, then use a drop of hot glue and pinch the bottoms together creating an ear shape. Add the ears to the headband on either side.

For the mane: Cut 1×4 inch strips of white felt and adhere in a straight line down the center, from tip of the hood down to the hem.

For the tail: Cut a handful of 1×10 inch strips of white felt for the tail. Knot them together and adhere to the seat with a safety pin.

The Witch

 

Witch Costume for Halloween

 

The Halloween costume that never goes out of style.

Photo: iStock

Ahh—one of the most classic costumes of all: the witch. For this extremely simple costume, all you have to do is buy a witch hat, wear all black, put on some very dark red lipstick, and call it a day.

You’ll Need:
Witch hat
Head-to-toe black clothing
Optional: dark lipstick, broom

Bubbles

 

DIY bubble costume

 

Just make sure your kid is careful wearing this costume!

primary.com

Your child will get all the fun of a bubble bath, minus the soapy suds with this quick-to-make Halloween costume. Add some toys from your bathtub at home and you’re done!

You’ll Need:
Plain white long sleeve shirt or Primary The Long Sleeve Pajama Top ($12, primary.com)
Plain white leggings or Primary The Legging ($14, $13 each for 3+, primary.com)
Plain white shower cap
White balloons
Clear balloons
Bath toys or a rubber duck
Tape or safety pins

Directions:
Blow up enough white and clear balloons to cover the shirt. Tie the balloons closed securely, and use safety pins or tape to attach the balloons to the shirt. Attach the mix of white and clear balloons randomly to the shirt to look like suds.

The Cat

 

Cat face paint

 

Another Halloween outfit idea that’s classic.

iStock

Meow! No one can resist an adorable cat on Halloween. This look requires stuff you already have at home, allowing you to put this costume together in record time.

You’ll Need:
An all-black outfit
Black face paint or black eyeliner
Optional: cat-ear headband

Directions
Using the face paint or eyeliner, draw a nose and whiskers on your child’s face. Add the optional cat-ear headband and you’re set!

The Mummy

 

Mummy costume

 

For a secure fit, strategically add safety pins.

iStock

Halloween is the perfect time to dress up as the living dead—especially if the costume is as easy to make as this one!

You’ll need:
A plain white bed sheet or a yard of plain white fabric
An all-white outfit
Scissors
Optional: Coffee or tea water and large pot or container

Directions:
Cut the white sheet or fabric into long strips. If you and your child want an older-looking mummy costume, use coffee or tea water. Make the colored water by either brewing coffee and watering it down to the desired shade of brown or by using tea to do the same. Then put the liquid in a large pot or container and soak the strips for about two hours. Rinse the strips and let them air dry. Once the strips are done, simply tie them one-by-one around your child, attaching the end of one strip to the beginning of another.

The Nerd

 

Nerd.

 

You can also apply gel to flatten your child’s hairstyle for geek-chic effect.

iStock

Hey, who said being smart wasn’t cool? This DIY nerd costume will bring out the brainiac in any kid, and the best part is, you probably have all the materials already.

You’ll Need:
Glasses with or without lenses
Sweater Vest
Dress pants
Bow tie
Optional: math or science textbook; pencil

Pro Tip: The 3D glasses you took home from the movies make for awesome nerd glasses! Tuck a pencil behind your child’s ear for an added smarty-pants effect.

Emoji

 

Emoji Costume

 

Add another expression to the back of your emoji, so you can “change moods” throughout the day.

Photo: iStock

We all know and love emojis, so why not honor them on Halloween too? Cut out a large circle from poster board, paint it yellow, and paint on some expressions. To make carrying it around easier, glue a paint stirrer to the back to create a handle. You can wear it with yellow clothing to further emphasize your costume.

You’ll Need:
Poster board
Yellow, black, brown or blue paint (depending on the expression)
Scissors Paint brush Optional: paint stirrer

Mime Costume

 

Mime Costume

 

You can add a beret if you want to go more traditional.

Photo: iStock

Pair a black-and-white striped shirt with black pants, and then put white face paint all over your face. Apply black eyeliner to eyelids, and use the eyeliner to draw thin lines for brows. Finish with a coat of bright red lipstick.

You’ll Need:
Black-and-white striped shirt
Black pants
White face paint Bright red lipstick Optional: striped or red scarf, white gloves

Updated on

October 17th, 2018 at 10:30am

This article was written by Maricar Santos from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Pumpkin Lanterns! Skeleton Flamingos! Here Are the Top Decor Trends for Halloween 2018

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Time to scoop up some pumpkins and bust out ye olde witch garb, friends: All Hallows’ Eve is comin’ up fast. Looking for some spooky inspiration for this year’s decor? Below, the freshest, most-buzzed-about Halloween hooks—according to Pinterest’s 2018 Pinfrights report.

Courtesy of Polka Dot Chair

FLOATING WITCH HAT LIGHTS

We love this one: Use a fishing line and LED clip-on lights to turn witches hats into front porch phantoms.

Get the tutorial on Polka Dot Chair

Courtesy of Modern Parents, Messy Kids

Spider Eggs

This yarn, glue and water project couldn’t be simpler. (We love the idea of filling a cauldron with them—or suspending from a lighting fixture.)

Get the tutorial on Modern Parents Messy Kids

PHOTO: GIEVES ANDERSON/STYLING: REBEKAH MACKAY

Drip candlestick holders

Psst: These chic vessels will get eerier and eerier as the wax melts down.

Get the tutorial on PureWow

Courtesy of Melo-Drama

Skeleton flamingos

Skeletons are spooky—but we think these little flamingo versions are pretty darn cute. 

Get the tutorial on Melo-Drama

Courtesy of Design Love Fest

Pumpkin lanterns

The prettiest and most festive of DIYs: Drill bit, pumpkins, done.

Get the tutorial on Design Love Fest

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

13 Healthy Halloween Snacks That Won’t Scare Kids Away

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If you’re anything like us, then you know what it’s like to spend Halloween trying your hardest not to consume the entire candy stash before the first kid knocks on your door.

But if you can’t trust yourself sitting beside that Costco-size box of chocolate bars all night (who can?!), consider stocking up on these 13 healthier Halloween snacks. They offer kiddos more balanced options but also won’t make you feel like crap if you can’t stop at just one.

This list is 100-percent dietitian-approved: Some are allergen-friendly, vegan, or gluten-free; others are organic, non-GMO, and void of artificial colors or flavors. And a bunch of them pack a wide range of lower-sugar, antioxidant-rich ingredients. So whatever your Halloween vice, whether it’s sweet, salty, or something in-between, we’ve got a healthier Halloween treat for you. Oh, and the kids.

 

1. YumEarth Organic Pomegranate Licorice

A common source of food sensitivities, red food coloring isn’t usually a fan favorite among parents of candy-loving kids. Thankfully, these little licorice nibs are flavored with organic pomegranate and cherry juice and colored naturally with organic fruit concentrates, yielding a gluten-free, vegan, and nut-free treat.

($19 for 6 bags; amazon.com)

 

2. MadeGood Halloween Chocolate Granola Minis

Halloween can be a nightmare for a kid with severe food allergies, so we love these limited-edition chocolate chip granola minis from MadeGood. Free of the top eight allergens, organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO project verified, these bars are a breath of fresh air for concerned parents. They’re also a charitable choice this Halloween since 2 percent of all proceeds from the bars goes directly to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

($19 for 36 minis; amazon.com)

 

3. Veggie Go’s Organic Fruit and Veggie Strips

Packed with a half-cup of organic fruit and veggies per strip, plus fiber-rich flaxseeds and a touch of cinnamon, these no-sugar-added snacks are a smart way to get your sweet fix on October 31. They’re also gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, and have less than 20 calories per bar (not that we are counting, but that’s pretty good).

($23 for 20 strips; amazon.com)

 

4. Free2b Dark Chocolate Mint Cups

Ready to trade that classic (massive) Peppermint Patty for something a little lighter? We love these vegan dark chocolate mint cups because they’re free of the top 12 allergens (nuts, dairy, gluten, oh my!) and are made with fair-trade unsweetened dark chocolate so we can feel good about where they came from.

($32 for 24; amazon.com)

 

5. Annie’s Organic Orchard Cherry Apple Fruit Bites

With organic fruit pureé as the first ingredient and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, moms and dads won’t mind popping these fruity bites into kiddo’s lunch for a healthier post-Halloween snack.

($5 for 5 packs; walmart.com)

 

6. KIND Minis

With just 2 grams of added sugars per 100-calorie bar, along with 3 grams each of fiber and protein, you can feel good about these KIND minis making an appearance in your kids’ stash. Sweet, salty, chocolaty, and crunchy, they check all the boxes for a healthier Halloween treat.

($22 for 20 bars; amazon.com)

 

7. The Good Bean Sea Salt Crunchy Chickpeas

Need a savory option for the chip fans in your life? We got you. These single-serve bags of addictive crispy chickpeas pack 4 grams of protein and fiber into every 90-calorie pack, making them an awesome choice for your kids (and you, of course).

($30 for 50 packs; amazon.com)

 

8. Unreal Dark Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Gems

Getting your chocolate fix doesn’t have to mean tossing junk food into your grocery cart just before checkout. These tasty chocolate rounds are made with organic, non-GMO, fair-trade dark chocolate and are vegan and gluten-free. They’re also colored naturally with fruit and veggie extract instead of the standard food dyes and offer a delicate crunch from protein-rich quinoa.

($26 for 6 bags; shop.getunreal.com)

 

9. Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Neighborhood mamas and dads are going to be pumped when they find these in their kids’ candy bag. The better-for-you cups are made with organic dark chocolate and organic peanuts and offer 4 grams of protein per two-cup package. Sorry, kids, we might have to confiscate your bag for these.

($25 for 12 packs; amazon.com)

 

12. Skinny Dipped Almonds

Finally, a Halloween option that could make its way into the holiday season too (seriously, these are great stocking stuffers). The dark chocolate-dipped almonds have just 60 calories per pack and only 2 grams of sugar. The almonds are coated in an antioxidant-rich dark chocolate for a healthy treat that will give Almond Joys a run for their money.

($35 for 24 packs; skinnydipped.com)

 

13. Fruits in Chocolate Dark Chocolate Covered Coconut

Each individually wrapped truffle features a whole dried fruit coated in rich dark chocolate with just 50 to 70 calories per piece. They’re available as a mixed box with prunes, cranberries, and apricots, so you can give ’em to the kids who could use a more natural chocolate fix this fall (so, all of them).

($23 for 46 pieces; fruitsinchocolate.com)

Every editorial product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through one of our links, we may earn a commission. But don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra, and we wouldn’t recommend a product if we didn’t love it as much as we love puppies.

 

This article was written by Abbey Sharp from Greatist and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.