Gifts that Give Back: World Vision

world vision christmas gifts

Gifts that Give Back

Sometimes buying holiday gifts can feel like an obligation. Another sweater Grandma won’t wear, another tie to add to Dad’s collection – what if the gifts bought out of social necessity went to supply real necessities around the world? This upcoming holiday season, shoppers can reinvent gift lists with items from the World Vision Gift Catalog. These alternative gift ideas, from goats and chickens to life-saving medicine, honor the recipient and create a lasting impact for people in need. The catalog offers nearly 250 gifts online and in the print version ranging in price from $16 to $39,000. These gifts can be purchased in the name of a family member, teacher, co-worker or child and a few examples include:


>>A Coffee Set ($50): With a contribution of $50 a recipient receives a Fair-Trade Coffee Set which includes a blend of coffee from Ethiopia, Sumatra, and Costa Rica and is delivered with hand-carved olivewood scoop in a gift bag of African fabric hand-sewn by local women.

Fair-Trade Coffee Set

This is the set we receive it includes:
>>Whole Bean Coffee Blend
>>World Vision Travel Mug
>>Wooden Scoop
>>Fabric Bag

Coffee Gift set

Other gift options available include:

>>Artisan Multi-Colored Necklace ($100): For $100 the donor receives an artisan multi-colored, glass beaded necklace. This unique, colorful, lariat strand helps fight human trafficking and can be worn as a long or short necklace, bracelet or even as a belt.

>>Goat ($75): One of the most popular gifts because its milk provides protein for children and the surplus can be sold for additional income to purchase medicines and other necessities. Plus, fertilizer from goats can increase the amount of vegetables grown in a family garden.

>>Family Food Kit ($16): Includes nutritious meals like oatmeal, lentil soup or pasta, and a bean and rice casserole to feed a family in the U.S. who has been struck by disaster, homelessness or job loss.

To connect with and learn more about World Vision visit them online
Website | Facebook | Twitter 


Kids Gift Set: Uncommon Goods


Hey readers, we are back with more great gift ideas for kids. This gift set comes from Uncommon Goods and includes a table tennis game, tube toys truck and a stencil set. Each of these items can be purchased separately on their website.

table tennis

Portable Ping Pong

I love that this game is portable and can be set up virtually anywhere. The set up and take down of this game is simple and take little to no time at all. It’s easy to transport and store, so if you want to take it to the office, a friends house or a family get together it’s no trouble at all. This is something that kids, teens and adults alike can all have fun with. This would make a great family gift.
Age Recommendation: 6+
Price: $39.95

tube toys trucksIMG_1072

Tube Toys

Not only are these fun trucks, trains and tractors, they’re also puzzles that put your little ones minds to work. For more gift ideas for boys visit this link.
Age Recommendation: 3+
Price: $15 -Sale-$9.99

stencil set

Stencil and Pens Set

For the budding artist in your life the creative Facebox and Zoobox sets are something fun that the whole family can enjoy. For more gift ideas for girls click here.
Age Recommendation 3 and up.
Price: $10

Uncommon Goods has a variety of unique and creative gifts for everyone on your holiday list.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Green Gift Ideas from Raising Green Kids

When I received the Owie Bag from Raising Green Kids I had every intention on it being needed for my kids. The hubs actually used it twice before either one of the kids needed it, lol. So, what is this Owie Bag? It is a handmade, eco-friendly, non-toxic, reusable, pain relief pack filled with flax seed. It can be used for many ailments as a hot pack or a cold pack. Organic flaxseeds are used in these packs for longer heat retention.

Price: $8.00 for a 2 pack

Here is my daughter feeling a bit under the weather…sipping her herbal tea with her cold Owie pack on her head:

natural remedies

Raising Green Kids carries these nifty little reusable and washable sandwich bags, which are extremely handy. With my daughter and hubby taking their lunches almost daily I cringe at all the plastic bags that were being used. The Lunchskins bag solves that problem! And the materials these bags are made from are non-toxic and food safe.
Price: $16.75 for a 2 pack


Raising Green Kids also has a variety of other “green” items ranging from toys and art supplies to household items and cleaners.

Connect with Raising Green Kids
Facebook | Twitter


Chuao Chocolate for the Holidays

What are the holidays without a little bit of chocolate… not just any chocolate though, Chuao Chocolates have some of the most amazing chocolate I’ve ever had. Their chocolates are made with natural, non dairy products. Their items range from chocolate bars, to bonbons, truffles and hot chocolate. I, personally, love good chocolate and would be happy to receive any of their chocolates as a gift or in my stocking {hint, hint, just kidding :) }.

“Chuao Chocolatier is pioneering “fusion chocolate” through a commitment to creating unusual, unexpected and delicious flavors using their secret blend of premium chocolate and fresh natural ingredients.”

I tried the following 3 chocolate bars from Chuao:


Dark Chocolate Nut Nirvana

Luscious dark chocolate that is studded with crunchy whole roasted almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios. Dark Nut Nirvana is pure bliss for those enlightened beings who are nuts about nuts. Formerly known as Caracas Dark. Non dairy, vegan friendly. 100 g/ 3.52 oz per bar

This one was my favorite,

Price: $6.00



spicy chocolate

Spicy Maya Chocolate

Seductive cinnamon, pasilla chile and warming cayenne bedded in dark chocolate. Non dairy, vegan friendly.  80 g/ 2.8 oz per bar.

I love this one, too, it’s not too HOT, but it has just the right amount of spices… great combination.

Price: $6.00



bacon chocolate

Maple Bacon Bar

Crisp bites of bacon drizzled with delicate maple sweetness and a sprinkle of bonfire smoked sea salt, bathed in milk chocolate. 80 g/ 2.8 oz  per bar

I wasn’t too wild about this combo, it actually wan’t too bad, but it’s not something I would get regularly for myself. My husband and the guys at his work were crazy about this one though.

Price: $6.00




Close ups of the Nut Nirvana bar (yum!):


There is a variety of Chuao Chocolates available, so you will be sure to find a flavor for everyone on your holiday list this year. Find Chuao Chocolates online and on Facebook.


Gifts for Teens: Ripleys Believe It or Not! Download the Weird

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Download the Weird

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Download the Weird is the latest book of the wildly popular series that chronicles the weirdest, wildest stories from around the world.

But wait… there’s more! A brand new app allows readers of Download the Weird to actually download the weird.  and watch the stories come alive with bonus videos and images.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Download the Weird

Here’s how it works: simply point a smart phone or advanced iPod at the special oddSCAN™ logos in the book and see that story come to life with exclusive bonus content, including videos and images. It’s a one-stop portal that will transport readers deep into the hidden world of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! like never before.

>>Meet the world’s oddest couple: he swallows swords, hedge trimmers and umbrella handles while she hangs upside down and lifts lead weights by her hair!

>>Learn why a California man has experienced more than 950 violent car crashes.

>>See tourists risk life and limb to get their picture taken with an 18-foot-long crocodile!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Download the Weird

I actually think this is a gift that can be enjoyed by almost anyone, my daughter loves it, she is 7. The stories range from intriguing, hilarious and disgusting. This book has entertained our entire family, even grandma, for weeks.

Enter to win Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Download the Weird book in our 12 Days of Gifts Galore Giveaway beginning Nov 25 until Dec 6! Click >>HERE<< to be taken to the giveaway entry form! Good luck!

Find Ripley’s Believe It or Not! online and on Facebook


Gifts for Kids: Sparkle Box Children's Christmas Book Giveaway

My kids love books. Even though my 7 year old brings home at least 3 books a week from her school’s library she still gets excited when she gets a new book all her own. I love that she is so into books and gets excited to receive new ones. Books are great gifts for kids and there are several books that will be under the tree for my kids this year, including The Sparkle Box.


Sam can’t wait for Christmas! He’s excited about the parties and the food and, of course, the gifts. One present in particular has Sam curious—a sparkling silver box on the mantel. Sam’s parents will only tell him that they will open the gift together, but that they need to fill it first. Throughout the holiday season, Sam and his family participate in various charitable acts together. On Christmas morning, Sam finally gets to open the Sparkle Box, where he finds slips of paper recording the family’s good deeds during the holiday season. Sam’s parents explain that the things that they’ve been doing for others are, in fact, a gift for Jesus. Sam realizes how fortunate he is and how important it is to help others.

sparkle box book

The Sparkle Box Features:

>>10 x 10 picture book
>>32 pages
>>hardcover with jacket
>>includes fold-out glitter box
>>Available in bookstores everywhere and on Amazon.

This book is written by, Jill Hardie, I was given the opportunity to ask her a few questions about herself and her book:

Can you tell us about your family tradition with the Sparkle Box, how did it begin and how did it change your Christmas?

To help counter commercialism at Christmas, my husband and I began giving gifts to those in need, in honor of loved ones. While people seemed to like these gifts, one family member good-naturedly confessed, “I loved the gifts you used to buy me for Christmas!” My husband and I had a heart-to-heart talk and asked ourselves, “Whom are we really honoring with these gifts?” The answer was clear. We were honoring Jesus by giving gifts to those in need. That Christmas Eve, a gift was placed under our tree for Jesus. On Christmas morning, we opened Jesus’ gift before we opened our own. A simple, small gold foil jewelry box with a few pieces of paper in it was perched on top of a pile of presents. A tag on the outside said, “Jesus, we give these gifts to you to honor you on your birthday.” I opened the box and read the pieces of paper that represented the gifts we had purchased. A gift of a goat that will provide milk to a poor family. Mittens for the mitten tree at school for people that don’t have money to buy them. A shoe-box full of toys and candy that will bring joy to a poor child somewhere in the world. A feeling of peace and love came over me as I read those pieces of paper. My husband and I were moved to tears and our children were also touched. It was a profound experience. We had honored Jesus on his birthday and that centered everything. Every gift that morning was twice as wonderful!

Since then, we have continued The Sparkle Box tradition every Christmas. We love choosing gifts for Jesus and talk about what we’re getting Him for weeks in advance. It centers the season on Jesus and remembering those who are less fortunate, and that puts everything in perspective. It makes the simple joys of the season even more enjoyable and melts away the pressures of the season. Our children have learned that they truly are blessed to be a blessing–and they’ve learned the joy of giving.

    – What are some practical and low cost ideas for how families can fill this box with gifts for others this holiday season?

You want to give something that is truly from the heart to Jesus. Something that shows Him you were thinking of Him when you chose The Sparkle Box gift. So while it doesn’t have to cost money, it should be something extra special. So for adults or families, they may want to do a service project. They could work at a soup kitchen, or volunteer to shovel a neighbor’s driveway every time in snows this winter. There are many lonely people at nursing homes. Adopting a person at a nursing home would be a beautiful gift. For children, the gift could be something small. Like Sam, they could purchase a pair of mittens. Or they could do chores to earn money and actually go grocery shopping to purchase 2-3 non perishable food items. Children love to earn the money themselves, so it’s not the cost of the item, it’s how it impact their hearts. There are more ideas on as well as a free printable chore chart, free Sparkle Jar craft instructions for children to make a jar to save money for Jesus’ gift and more. 

    –What do you hope readers will come away with after reading this book?

For adults, I hope they realize that there is a simple and beautiful way to center Christmas—honor Jesus on Christmas day with a gift just for Him. For children and adults alike, I hope they come away with the feeling that they can make a difference in the world by letting the light of Jesus shine through them, bringing light and hope into the lives of others.


Win it: Win your own copy of The Sparkle Box simply by leaving a comment telling us your best “Sparkle Box idea”, what gift or good deed could your family do together to help someone in need? The giveaway will end on November 28 and is open to US residents.

The giveaway portion has ended, our winner was selected via, comment number 11 (the 1st/top comment being #1 and last comment being #11) is our winner, congrats!


Unique Gift Ideas: Boxing Glove Oven Mitts

The man of the house does a lot of the cooking that goes on in our home. He enjoys it and is really good at it (how lucky am I). His current oven mitt has seen better days, so for the upcoming holidays I thought these boxing glove oven mitts would make a great unique gift for him.

Unique Gift Ideas: Boxing Glove Oven Mitts

These oven mitts are high quality, I can tell they are well made and will likely last for years to come. They are very well insulated in order to protect the hands from any type of heat.

Unique Gift Ideas: Boxing Glove Oven Mitts

These well made boxing glove oven mitts comes from Living Royal has clothes, accessories, things for the home and just a lot of unique items that would make great gifts. Check out this toilet coffee mug (hehe)



Connect with LivingRoyal

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram: livingroyal

Win It: Living Royal is offering you, my readers, a chance to win a $75 gift certificate to their online store, this giveaway will begin tonight, stay tuned!


Step2 Corvette Toddler to Twin Bed with Lights

My son is now 2 (as of today!). You might recall about 2 months ago he started climbing out of his crib. We knew it was time to get him a “big boy bed”. I searched online for options and decided that a toddler to twin convertible bed would be ideal.  We wanted a bed that is not too big for him now but also one that can grow with him. Since he has really taken to cars lately and loves all things cars, we thought the Step2 Corvette® toddler to twin bed with lights was the perfect choice for my son.

step 2 toddler bed

Delivery and Assembly

We received the bed via home delivery and when my son saw the box he smiled so big and exclaimed “car!”. He was extremely excited, the joy on his face was priceless. I have to admit I did wonder what assembling this bed would require, but it was fairly easy. The instructions were thorough and easy to follow.

step 2 toddler bed

Here are some photos of our Step2 Corvette Toddler to Twin Bed set up process:

car bed

car bed for kids

car bed for kids

car bed for kids

The assembly of the bed was not difficult. It was a little time consuming as we were just using a regular screw driver. I recommend using a screw gun or automatic screw driver for a faster set up process, just be careful not to strip the plastic out.

car bed for kids

Toddler to Twin Conversion

As I mentioned above this bed is a toddler to twin convertible bed and can be changed simply by swapping out the mattress. For now we are using it as a toddler bed with his crib mattress. Once he gets bigger we can put a twin size mattress on there for him and he will be able to use this bed for years to come. There is actually a race track in front and up the sides of the bed and when using a crib/toddler mattress it can be accessed and the child play on this with his little cars (very cool, my son has a blast with his cars and this bed)…

step 2 corvette bed for kids

He even falls asleep on the race track ;).

sleeping toddler


The lights on the bed are another feature that I love (my son loves them too, of course). The center light is a tap light that automatically turns off after 15 minutes to conserve the battery.


The bed is low to the ground, he can easily climb in and out of it without getting hurt. The “windows” and sides of the car serve as railing and prevent him from rolling off the bed while he sleeps.

Buy it: This bed can be purchased on the Step2 website for $329.99 plus $29.99 shipping. For more information visit the Step2 Corvette® Toddler to Twin Bed with Lights page. Check out the video below to see this bed in action:

 If you are looking for an entire themed bedroom suite they also have the matching Corvette® Storage ChestCorvette® Dresser, and Corvette® Room Organizer available that are sold separately on the Step2 website or you can purchase the bed, dresser and storage chest on Amazon for $545.95.


Disclaimer: This blog is not affiliated with the Step2 Test Drive Mom program or This blog is independent of the Step2 Test Drive Mom program.

Unique Gift Ideas for the Hard to Buy For: Hog Wash and Toe Juice

Every year my dad insists that we NOT get him anything for Christmas, yet he always gets us something and we end up feeling bad if we don’t get him at least a little something. Of course he will never give me any hints or ideas and I don’t want to get him something he won’t use or doesn’t need just for the sake of getting him something. I’m sure we all feel this way and would love to find a useful unique gift for the hard to buy for people is our lives. Enter the Hog Wash and Toe Juice Combo Pack:

Unique Gift Ideasplant based skin care

Is this some sort of gag gift idea? Not exactly! These are skin care products made from DermaVine®, which is a blend of plant-based extracts that enhance the skin’s natural repairing ability. It contains willow bark, lemon peel, and Cinnamon extracts.

Toe Juice

The Toe Juice is a liquid that can be used for refreshing and soothing skin irritations caused by dryness, like psoriasis, eczema, athlete’s foot.

Hog Wash

Hog Wash is a gel hand sanitizer. It dries quickly, doesn’t leave a stick or greasy feeling and is a must have for anyone, really, to protect against germs. The plant based ingredients make this one hand sanitizer that is actually good for the skin and won’t cause dryness.

Both products are:
Fast Drying
>>Non greasy
>>All natural
Plant based

Hog Wash and Toe Juice

Unique Gift Ideas

My dad is a goofy guy and appreciates a good gag gift, but the Hog Wash and Toe Juice are something he can benefit from as well. While they are useful products, you have to admit with names like Hog Wash and Toe Juice, they will likely create a chuckle.

The Hog Wash / Toe Juice Combo Pack contains the following:
>> (1) 8 fl oz hog wash
(1) 2 fl oz hog wash
(1) 4.6 fl oz Toe Juice
(1) 1 fl oz Toe Juice

Price: $25.00

Buy it: This combo pack and items in it can be purchased online at

Win in: We are giving away a Toe Juice/Hog Wash Combo Pack for the Happy Holidays Giveaway Hop, November 15- 29.


Gifts for Kids: Morphology JR Game

I love the idea of kids getting board games for Christmas. When I was a kid I loved board games and card games. I have so many memories of playing these types of games with my sister, cousins and friends. We had a Nintendo, which of course we enjoyed, but board games are more personal and interactive, they allow kids to connect with the the other players face to face rather than on a tv or computer screen.

morpholgy board games

Morphology and Morphology Junior are games that give a creative spin on Pictionary. Players “build” words (like “airplane” for instance) using the included items of string, wooden sticks and beads, other payers must guess what they have built. To make it even more fun rules like “eyes closed” and “string only” are thrown in and have everyone laughing out loud!

morpholgy board games

Morphology is designed for those 13 years of age and up and was TIME Magazine’s Number 2 Toy of the Year in 2009. Morphology Junior, made for kids 8 and up, was the Creative Child Magazine’s 2012 Game of the Year. Both games can be purchased online and are also sold at the following stores: Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million, Marbles, Scholar’s Choice, Indigo! and Timberdoodle Co.

Morphology Price: $24.99

Morphology Junior: $29.99

games for kids

November 16-30 you will have a chance to win your choice of one of the 2 Morphology games, as a part of the Jingle Jubilee Giveaway Event. Be sure you are connected with us on Facebook and Twitter so you can see our announcements.