A Family Guide to Visiting Orlando

You can’t think about a family vacation without thinking about Orlando, Florida. There are so many family friendly things to do in Orlando, you probably won’t be able to do them all in just one trip. We’ve compiled a list of the hot spots and must-see attractions that you won’t want to miss. We’ve also thrown in some of our favorite local attractions that we hope you consider adding to your next family vacation.

Theme Parks

Walt Disney World – It’s no surprise that Walt Disney World is first on the list. With four parks, two water parks, and endless opportunities for fun, Walt Disney World guarantees a magical experience for the whole family. Make your way through the four parks that include Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, then splash around in the two water parks, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach.

Universal Orlando – Enjoy two parks at Universal Orlando, including Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. At The Wizarding World of Harry Potter take a tour of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. You can also enjoy the nightlife Universal Orlando has to offer at Universal CityWalk.

SeaWorld – Ride the roller coasters, chill with the penguins, and encounter sharks at SeaWorld Orlando! While you’re there, don’t forget to check out SeaWorld’s water park Aquatica and take advantage of the opportunity to swim with the dolphins at Discovery Cove. Do you have little kiddos? Here’s a Step-by-Step SeaWorld guide (with 10 stops, perfect for little kids!).

LEGOLAND Florida – Just down the road from Orlando in Winter Haven is central Florida’s newest theme park and largest LEGOLAND park in the world. You can now stay at the park at the brand new LEGOLAND Hotel and cool down from the hot Florida heat in the LEGOLAND Water Park. LEGOLAND Florida is geared towards families with children ages 2 to 12.

Click HERE for even more info about the theme parks and cruises… SeaWorld, Gatorland, Universal… just to name a few!

Before heading out to one of these parks, be sure to check out our Theme Park Survival Guide with tips and tricks to make your visit epic!

Beyond Theme Parks… Things To Do

The Escape Game – Here, anything is possible. Travel to unexplored planets, alternate realities, and even through time. Inside our worlds you’ll find extraordinary adventures in need of explorers, risk-takers, and problem solvers. This is where hero and adventure meet. Located on International Drive.

The Escape Game

Orlando Science Center – Explore, discover, and learn at the Orlando Science Center. With four floors of exhibits, big screen movies, and live programming, your family will have a blast. This is the perfect rainy day activity as it is completely indoors.

International Drive – I-Drive provides visitors with endless opportunity for fun with family attractions, spectacular dining, shopping, dinner shows, options for recreation, and unforgettable nightlife.

The Orlando Eye – Discover the magic from 400 feet above the ground at Orlando’s attraction located on I-Drive 360.

orlando-eye

Orlando SEA LIFE Aquarium – Orlando’s newest aquarium located at I-Drive 360 next to Madame Tussauds Orlando and The Orlando Eye.

The Crayola Experience – Opening its doors for the first time in July 2015, The Crayola Experience is a family attraction designed for a full day of hands-on creative play and colorful fun.

Gatorland – You can’t visit Florida without seeing at least one alligator, so head over to Gatorland to get the full gator experience! Gatorland is also home to the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line voted Best Zip line in the USA by AOL Travel.

Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts – While you’re in town, catch a show at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts. This state of the art facility opened its doors in 2014 and will not disappoint.

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens – Located in Sanford, the Central Florida Zoo houses over 500 animals of nearly 200 species. While you’re there, fly through the ZOOm Air Adventure Park or splash around in the Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground.

Morse Museum – See the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany at The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art located in Winter Park. The collection of works include jewelry, pottery, paintings, and glass art, just to name a few.

Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour – This off-the-beaten-path vacation experience won’t leave you disappointed. On the 18 passenger boat, you may see cranes, alligators, or fish as you travel through the Winter Park chain of lakes.

Shopping

Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets and Orlando International Premium Outlets – With two locations to choose from and over 160 stores each, you won’t leave the outlets empty handed.

Mall of Millenia – With 150 of the world’s finest stores, the Mall of Millenia will not disappoint. From department stores to luxury brand names, you are sure to find whatever is on your list.

Florida Mall – The Florida Mall offers family-friendly shopping with over 250 stores, including American Girl, M&M’s World, Macy’s, Armani Exchange, and Crayola Experience, just to name a few.

Winter Park Village – Just north of Orlando, Winter Park Village includes upscale shopping with quaint boutiques and high-end retailers.

Nearby Springs

Blue Spring State Park – See manatees up close and personal in their natural habitat at Blue Spring State Park.

Wekiwa Springs State Park – Located north of Orlando, you can relax in a natural setting or take a swim in the Wekiva River.

De Leon Springs State Park – Get moving to De Leon Springs State Park for some swimming, boating, hiking, or fishing. While you’re there, you must stop at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill for pancakes.

Come join us in Orlando, there is plenty to do with the family!


updated by Orlando Moms Blog 8/21/18

 

 

 

Feeling so lonely even though I’m far from alone

They say people go through seasons in life. To me, there are three distinct seasons: the really good, the really bad and the somewhere in between. Last year teetered in between ‘the really bad’ and ‘the somewhere in between’. 

I have started and erased this blog post multiple times. I have gone over this in my head and each time I have told myself “No one wants to hear about your bad year. No one wants to know about your season in life.” But here we are; it’s the beginning of a new year and I’m telling you about my season.

Towards the end of 2016 I had a baby. I went on maternity leave for three months. Unfortunately our financial situation did not allow me to be a stay-at-home-mom, so back to work I went. I love my job. I love the people I work for and with. But just in case you didn’t know, having a baby changes everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

On top of having a new born baby, somewhere in between all that life kept going. Bills kept coming in, families wanted to visit, friends wanted to visit, I wanted my life to kind of be the same as before and I thought I could manage my time like I did before. Shortly after I went back to work I felt like my life was falling apart. How was that even possible?! I had a beautiful, healthy baby girl, I had a supportive and loving husband, but there I was crying myself to sleep many nights. I would hide in the bathroom for a small piece of alone time. I felt like I was suffocating in this new life and no one could help me.

Feeling so lonely even though I'm far from aloneNo one could help me because I didn’t want help. I felt so lonely even though I was far from alone. 

One particular day my husband noticed that I was extra “on edge”. He asked me “What can I do to help you?” My response was short and not so sweet. “Nothing. You can’t do anything to help me.” I was so wrong on so many levels for that. I was pushing him away for no reason at all. I refused his help because I wanted to do it all. Instead of being a partner in the marriage, I was creating unnecessary distance.

I look back now on 2017 and think “THANK GOODNESS I MADE IT THROUGH! That was a tough one.” I’d love to sit here and tell you that this season is over and that we’ve made it through to the other side, but that would be a lie. We are still in the “somewhere in between” phase and I’m okay with that. Money is tighter than before, work is busier than ever and life is not how it used to be, and I’m learning to love it and appreciate it.

Here is a list of a few things that helped me make it to this point, take it or leave it {or add to it!}

1. Find your person and hold onto them tight.

For me that person was my husband. Once I realized I was pushing him away, I had to make changes to let him know that he is important and that I needed him more than ever. We have a rule in our marriage: Only one person is allowed to freak out at a time and that person is usually me so…

2. Ask for help.

I can’t say this one enough. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Ask for an hour or two away from the baby. Ask for someone to help with the kids so that you can go grocery shopping in peace. Trust me…I get it and no one will judge you for it.

3. Cry it out.

Sometimes we are so busy we don’t have time for our own emotions. We aren’t just moms, wives, friends. We are people too. It’s okay to be happy, it’s okay to be sad and it’s okay to just ‘be’.

4. Turn up the music.

When all else fails and you’re just having a really bad day, turn on the music, crank it up and sing your little heart out. Worry about everything tomorrow because your season may not be over yet and that’s okay.

No one wants to tell people that they feel like their life is falling apart. No one wants to air their dirty laundry or make themselves out to be a basket case or make themselves look anything less than perfect. But if we don’t talk about it, that’s when the feeling of loneliness kicks in. You start to feel like no one will ever understand you.

For those going through seasons, I feel you, I see you, let’s be best friends.

 

 

Why you should visit Christmas Town at Busch Gardens!

We truly had a FANTASTIC time at Busch Gardens at Christmas Town! Together with Coca-Cola®, Burger King and Busch Gardens, this post has been sponsored to bring you this experience. All opinions are 100% our own, and we can’t wait to visit again!

Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to see the BEST group Santa pic ever! Santa didn’t know what he was in for when my family entered the room! 🙂


We are seriously lucky to have so many attractions right here in driving distance. Not only are we spoiled with theme parks in our backyard, but we can visit them for every season and holiday! Right now is the PERFECT time to purchase a FUN CARD to Busch Gardens, because you can pay for a day, then you get the rest of 2019 & all of 2020 FREE! (seriously!) With all that Busch Gardens offers year round, this is a perfect family gift!

Burger King restaurants and Coca-Cola® have partnered together with Busch Gardens to help make your Christmas bright with a Fun Card! Hurry now to get an exclusive 2020 Busch Gardens Fun Card by purchasing a Coca-Cola® beverage (or combo meal with a Coke). Using the code they give you, you’ll get free access to Busch Gardens Christmas Town in 2019 and free refillable souvenir cup!

Our family decided to hop on this offer! Y’all, we had the BEST time at Busch Gardens, and if you’re looking for a family Christmas to remember, then you should too! Here’s what you need to do!

1. Visit Burger King and purchase a Coca-Cola®  beverage.

Go to your local Burger King and purchase a Coca-Cola® beverage (or combo meal with a Coke). You’ll receive a code with your purchase, which gets you free access to Busch Gardens Christmas Town in 2019 and a free refillable souvenir cup! (click here to enter your code!)

2. Visit Busch Gardens!

Busch Gardens has SO much to take in, including Christmas Town, that you will definitely want to take advantage of the pay for a day, get the rest of 2019 & all of 2020 FREE offer!

3. Meet & Greets!

You can meet Rudolph and friends at Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland. Then, visit Santa’s House presented by Coca-Cola®, where you’ll meet Santa and take photos with him and his elves! I’m sure our crew was a little older than most he saw that day, but Santa didn’t miss a beat and brought a smile to everyone’s face! I definitely got caught up in the magic of Christmas during our visit.

4. Tasty Treats!

We could have stayed all day in Christmas Town Village. Their delicious seasonal treats like hot chocolate, warm cookies and specialty pastries and sandwiches warmed our hands and filled our tummies. If you like variety (like me!) you can purchase a punch card, so you can sample of a lot of the treats! Our FAVORITE was the caramel hot cocoa, the warm apple cider and the gooey warm cookies! Plus, the added bonus of our free refillable cup!!

5. Millions of Lights!

Magic is truly all throughout the park! From snow machines to tunnels of lights, and not to mention Christmas Town itself, the transformation of Busch Gardens during this season is a must see! Additionally there are shows for kids (and adults!) of all ages, including Elmo’s Christmas Wish, Three King’s Journey, Christmas on Ice, and more!

UPGRADE to a Silver Pass!

Before you go, there’s one more thing that you should consider! While the Fun Card is amazing, upgrading to a Silver Pass is a no-brainer! You receive:

  • Unlimited Admission for 12 Months (NO BLACKOUT DATES!)
  • FREE admission to the 2019 event line-up, including Food & Wine Festival, Kids Weekends, Bier Fest, and Christmas Town.
  • FREE General Parking
  • 1 FREE Guest Ticket
  • 50% off up to 3 Guest Tickets
  • and more!

That’s an amazing offer!

Thank you!

My family had the most memorable day ever – we even went on a safari and fed giraffes! We can’t wait to come back! It’s certain to be a frequent destination in 2020!

A Primer for Visiting Universal Orlando with Little Ones

Living in Orlando we are spoiled when it comes to looking for a weekend activity or staycation. Our backyard is filled with costumed characters, spectacular dining experiences, the beach, Broadway level shows, and rides for every taste level. Since moving to Orlando my family of five has taken full advantage. 

This year we decided to gift our kids Universal Orlando passes for Christmas. Let’s be honest…these were a gift for ourselves as well. We have learned a few tips and tricks since activating our passes, so I’ve compiled a list of our best advice when visiting Universal Orlando!

A Primer for Visiting Universal Orlando with Little OnesFood

I have a system when planning for a day at an amusement park. It has gotten us through long days at tons of different parks. 

Step 1 – Eat breakfast at home, or at least in the car on the way to the park. There are options at City Walk and in the parks to eat, but it is seriously a waste of valuable ride time to take advantage of them unless you arrive exceptionally early. 

Step 2 – Pack snacks and a water bottle. These are awesome for passing the time in long lines or if you are trying to eat meals during non-peak times {btw you should always do this}. My favorite snacks to throw in my backpack are packs of crackers, granola bars, mixed nuts, and if I’m feeling nice some cookies. With water fountains all over the place and kiosks that allow you to fill your bottle with water it is easy not to spend money on drinks.

Step 3 – Share meals. The portions in the park are good sized…especially when paired with your snack arsenal. we bought 2 hot dogs and 2 fries from Blondies and it fed my family of 5 because we had our snack crackers as a side!

Make a Plan

Very rarely does my family wander into a theme park without some sort of a plan…even if that plan is to only walk around and people watch! This is one of our FAVORITE plans during the busy holiday, spring break, and summer seasons. Sure, we usually duck into a show or hop in line for a short wait, but those are just icing on the cake!

We are getting ready to institute a new system on our next visit – each family member writes down 1-2 rides/attractions that they want to accomplish on our visit and we finish that list before moving on to other rides. This will help ensure that everyone gets to do something that they want and keeps them in a good mood. 

Know Your Kiddo’s Height

There is nothing sadder than a tiny person walking up to a ride only to find that they aren’t tall enough to ride {this happened to us on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey}. Thankfully Universal has the most amazing Child Swap system I have ever seen! 

Each ride that has a height requirement allows the whole family to go through line together and when you get to the front the child and waiting adult hang out in the child swap ROOM right by the loading area. When the first rider is done, the adults switch and the second rider basically walks right onto the ride! It is a simple and safe system that prevents families from having to find each other after the ride or even have to put their bags/phones/etc in a locker. 

Lockers

Speaking of lockers…

The FREE locker areas near each ride that requires them is very busy and cramped. If at all possible I advise only one person per party entering this area. I have seen groups of 5 adults stand in line to retrieve one bag from one locker and it is very frustrating.

Kids’ Areas

Universal Orlando Resort has a section that is focused on kids at each park, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

At Universal Studios, there are play and splash areas accompanied by some milder rides and characters familiar to the toddler and pre-school set {Barney, Fievel, and Curious George} – but beware they may be closing soon to make way for the new Nintendo Land expansion! Don’t be upset about it though, because Islands of Adventure actually has a few more areas focused on children. Seuss Landing is a personal favorite with the Cat in the Hat ride, reminding me a lot of a certain ride about a silly old bear at the park down the road and the most entertaining street performing Whos! IOA also has a fun Jurassic Park outdoor play area, Discovery Center complete with hatching dinos, and a Popeye and Olive Oil play ship! 

Harry Potter

Whether your kids know anything about Harry Potter or not I can promise you they are going to ask for wizard robes and a wand before your trip is over! Take time to explore the sights and shops in both Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) and Hogsmeade (IOA) and catch a few of the shows like the Frog Choir and Tales of Beetle the Bard. 

Bonus: Taking the Hogwarts Express between parks might NOT be the quickest way between parks, but it is the most fun. Be sure and take the train both ways because it is different. My family prefers the trip from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley. 

Bad Weather

It’s Orlando and storms happen. Universal seems to have planned for it better than other parks when it comes to ride queues. Most lines are either inside or at least covered so should a storm pop up, hop in a line and you will be just fine…or lean into it and hit a water ride!  

Florida Resident Perks

Again, living in Florida {especially Central Florida} has it’s perks with being so close to the parks…and most of the parks give you discounts!! Be sure when you are grabbing your tickets or annual passes to get the Florida Resident rates! A lot of the Annual Pass packages include food and merchandise discounts, free parking, and hotel discounts! 

Be sure and check out our Guide to Theme Parks for more useful info!
Guide to Theme Parks in Orlando

Simple Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas

It’s the last weekend before Christmas, and we want to know, are you headed to any Christmas parties or gatherings?  If so, we think we can all agree, those events take a lot of planning and preparation for the one(s) who are making them happen. That’s why it’s important to show your appreciation for the one who brings it all together. But maybe you’re not sure what to bring? So, today we are sharing some simple holiday hostess gift ideas that will help you express your gratitude for your favorite #hostesswiththemostest this season.

brunette woman holding hostess gift green christmas tree candle and black and white kitchen towel

CANDLE + KITCHEN TOWEL

balsam fir candle in amber jar sitting next to sugar cookie printed kitchen towel on wood cutting board

Keep it simple with a festive candle and kitchen towel your host can use right away. Wrap them together with a simple ribbon or piece of baker’s twine, and you’re good to go!

DRESSED UP BOTTLE OF WINE

Wine bottle wrapped with holiday dinner napkin in front of christmas tree

Go traditional with a bottle of wine (or two) and dress it up with a holiday dinner napkin and silk floral. It’s a party favorite that will help your hostess stock the bar.

HANDY HOSTESS GIFT SET

hostess gift set with dish soap dish scrubber brush holiday kitchen towels and candles

Step it up a notch with a hostess gift set that will make cleaning the mess a little more fun. Combine a holiday dish soap, scrubber brush and dish towel(s) and display them in an open gift box tied with ribbon. So fun to give, and so fun to receive!

Do you have any simple holiday hostess gift ideas you’d love to share? If so, please share in the comments below. Happy hostess gifting!

Need more gift ideas? Be sure to search Orlando Mom Collective.

Need more hosting tips and tricks? Be sure to check out The Busy Bee.

Last Minute Holiday Shopping!

It’s the final countdown to Christmas! The tree is up, the presents are (mostly!) bought… and my to-do list is getting shorter and shorter!!

All that’s left? Just a little bit of last minute holiday shopping! I need to shop for Christmas dinner, pick up fresh flowers to create a gorgeous tablescape, pick up some gift cards for my daughter’s teachers, and pick up a party tray for this weekend’s Christmas party…whew!!!

Every holiday season, Winn-Dixie partners together with us to share all their last-minute holiday essentials! Here’s how they are helping me cross off SO many items off of my to-do list!

Check out my shopping trip! Click 👇

View this post on Instagram

It's the final countdown to Christmas! The tree is up, the presents are (mostly!) bought… and my to-do list is getting shorter and shorter!! All that’s left? I need to shop for Christmas dinner, pick up fresh flowers to create a gorgeous tablescape, pick up some gift cards for my daughter’s teachers, and pick up a party tray for this weekend’s Christmas party… whew!!! Every holiday season, we partner together with @winndixie to share their last-minute holiday essentials! Here's how they are helping me cross off SO many items off of my to-do list! DIY tablescape! This year we will have my family in town, so I'm upping my table decor. I love a good DIY tablescape with fresh flowers and greenery. Gift cards are my hero for last minute gifts. And I always love that Winn-Dixie triples the SE Grocers Reward points when I buy gift cards at the holidays! I have ONE MORE holiday party this weekend, so I'll definitely pick up a party tray from the deli department. (Tip: take all of the meat and cheese out of the tray and arrange on board with fruit and nuts for a gourmet-looking charcuterie spread!) I also need to stock up on a few more stocking stuffers, so I can check that off of my list too! We ALWAYS have a Christmas ham, and this year is no exception! Our menu is fairly predictable… ham, scalloped potatoes, pistachio salad, broccoli salad, and of course, christmas cookies. Winn-Dixie always amazing prices on their holiday hams! And… if you have yet to get your flu shot, all Winn-Dixie pharmacy customers can receive a FREE Smithfield Butt or Shank Portion Ham when you get a no-cost* flu shot at any in-store pharmacy. (*With most insurance plans. See pharmacy for details.)I can't believe Christmas is just a few days away! . . I'm thankful that Winn-Dixie helped me cross off so many last minute items! For more info, (like store hours, etc.) be sure to check out our latest blog post! #bringthelove #winndixiegives #orlandomomcollective #orlandomomsblog #orlandomom #orlandomoms #winndixiepartner

A post shared by Orlando Mom Collective (@orlandomomcollective) on

Christmas dinner

We ALWAYS have a Christmas ham, and this year is no exception! Our menu is fairly predictable… ham, scalloped potatoes, pistachio salad, broccoli salad, and of course, christmas cookies. Winn-Dixie always amazing prices on their holiday hams! And… if you have yet to get your flu shot, all Winn-Dixie pharmacy customers can receive a FREE Smithfield Butt or Shank Portion Ham when you get a no-cost* flu shot at any in-store pharmacy. (*With most insurance plans. See pharmacy for details.)

All the floral I need for a gorgeous tablescape

This year we will have my family in town, so I’m upping my table decorations. I love a good DIY tablescape with fresh flowers and greenery.

Gift cards

Gift cards are my hero for last minute gifts. And I always love that Winn-Dixie triples the SE Grocers Reward points when I buy gift cards at the holidays! Exclusions:  All Winn-Dixie gift cards, Visa cards, Mastercards, American Express cards, reloadable cards and prepaid debit cards. 

Everything I need for the holiday party

I have ONE MORE holiday party this weekend, so I’ll definitely pick up a party tray from the deli department. (Tip: take all of the meat and cheese out of the tray and arrange on board with fruit and nuts for a gourmet-looking charcuterie spread!)

With one last White Elephant party of the season, I’m considering picking up the Garth Brooks Legacy Collection! Talk about a White Elephant gift that everyone will try to steal!

I also need to stock up on a few more stocking stuffers, and I love that I check that off of my list too!

I can’t believe Christmas is just a few days away! I’m thankful ​that Winn-Dixie helped me cross off so many last minute items!​

More important info!

 

5 Holiday Hunger Bags

 

  • Now through Dec. 24, customers can “Give A Little, Feed a lot” to fight hunger in our communities by purchasing a $5 prepared bag of non-perishable food items or by rounding up grocery totals at Winn-Dixie store registers. 
  • Each donation and $5 holiday bag purchased will be distributed directly to member food banks in the Feeding America® network.

Winn-Dixie Holiday Hours

 

  • Christmas Eve/Day: All Winn-Dixie stores and liquor stores will open at their normal hours until 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve and will remain closed on Christmas Day. In-store pharmacies will close at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve and remain closed during the Christmas holiday. 
  • New Year’s Eve/Day: To celebrate the New Year, all Winn-Dixie stores and liquor stores will be open on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day at their normal hours and will close at 10 p.m. (or regular close of business, if earlier). In-store pharmacies will close at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and will reopen from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on New Year’s Day.

 

 

Budget Friendly Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Men

If you opened this post, there’s a good chance you’re in the same boat we find ourselves in year after year. There are gift guides galore for the fellow women in our lives, but when it comes to the men, there seems to be a lack of inspiration. Maybe it’s because women tend to be the ones making the buying decisions this time of year, and marketing experts know how to appeal to us, but we’re here to say, there are meaningful, useful and appealing gifts for the men in your life, too. With that, we are sharing our favorite, budget-friendly stocking stuffer ideas for men, organized by personal interests today. Let’s just say, there’s a little something for everyone!

white fur stocking full of stocking stuffers for men on white mantle with greenery garland

Budget Friendly Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Men

The Traveler

  • Durable Bag Tag
  • Passport Holder
  • Dopp Kit
  • Travel Grooming Kit
  • Retractable Mobile Phone Charger Cable
  • Electronics Case
  • Sunglasses Case
  • Reading Glasses Case
  • Travel Cologne
  • Travel Mug/Thermos
  • Travel Wallet

The Self-Indulgent

  • Small Gift Card to Favorite
    • Coffee Shop
    • Lunch Spot
    • Sweets Shop
  • Coupon for Home Cooked Meal
  • Gift Card for Manicure/Pedicure
  • Foot/Hand Scrub
  • Foot/Hand Lotion

The Athlete

  • Box/Sleeve of Golf Balls
  • Golf Gloves
  • Tube of Tennis Balls
  • Fishing Lures
  • Surf Wax
  • Jump Rope
  • Resistance Bands
  • Thermos/Reusable Water Bottle
  • Anti-Blister Balm
  • Fit Bit Band
  • Rubber Wedding Bands
  • Protein Bars
  • Athletic Socks
  • Elastic Shoe Laces
  • Sweat Band

The Techie

  • Cord Clips/Organizer
  • Charger Organizer
  • Wireless Charging Station
  • External Battery Pack
  • Phone Case
  • Screen Protector
  • Touch Screen Cleaner
  • Air Pods Case
  • Watch Band
  • Personalized USB

close up of stocking stuffer ideas for men in white fur christmas stocking

The Intellectual or Businessman

  • Latest Book by Favorite Author
  • Hand Stamped Bookmark
  • Journal
  • Pens
  • Reading Glasses Case
  • Desk Calendar
  • Dress Socks

The Pet Lover

  • Personalized Pet Portrait Keychain
  • Personalized Pet Portrait Ornament
  • Custom Pet Portrait Socks

The Sentimental One

  • Mini Photo Album
  • Personalized Book (i.e. Daddy and baby)
  • Photo Calendar
  • Custom Wallet Insert w/ Personal Note
  • Personalized Ornament

The Stay at Home Dad

  • Audible Gift Card
  • iTunes Gift Card
  • Cooling Towel for Walks/Jogs with Kids
  • Pocket Cookbook
  • Sock Slippers
  • Personalized List Pad
  • Coffee Pods

white fur stocking full of stocking stuffers for men on white mantle with greenery garland

You may find that the man in your life you are shopping for fits into multiple categories, and that’s okay! Mix and match different gift ideas to appeal to his different interests, and he will love everything you chose for him.

So, tell us. What are some of your favorite budget friendly stocking stuffer ideas for men? We’d love to hear them in the comments below and add them to our list!

For more gift ideas, be sure to search the Orlando Mom Collective’s and The Busy Bee’s blog archives.

5 Fun Ways To Say Goodbye To Your Elf On The Shelf

He’s been a part of your life (sometimes in the same spot for more than a day) for several weeks now. He’s just like one of the family, and he’ll be missed on Christmas morning and every day until the day after Thanksgiving next year. Don’t you think your Elf on the Shelf deserves a proper send off? Here are a few ideas we love.

5 Fun Ways To Say Goodbye To Your Elf On The Shelf
Images via Pinterest

5 Fun Ways To
Say Goodbye To Your Elf On The Shelf

1. Leave a note!

One popular way to bid farewell is to have your elf leave a special, personal message for your kid, whether it’s a typewritten note or a message spelled out in candy or plastic letters on the fridge or on snow-painted window or mirror.

2. Snap an Elfie Selfie

Holding a peace sign with the message “peace out” on Instagram. Show your kids when you “discover” this Christmas Day.

3. Let them snuggle!

At my house it’s just torture to NOT touch Elvin and Elvis. So much so, that I caught one kid in the act. The result: Elvin didn’t move for two days because the touch drained his magic and he had to recharge for his trip back to the North Pole. Well, this year we’re breaking the “elf” rules and letting the kids cuddle and play with their elves on Christmas Eve. You see, Santa gave elves extra magic for Christmas Eve snuggles, and they’ll return next year as long as you put them back in the same place you found them. (Thanks to balancinghome.com for the idea! And seriously, how cute is this cuddly elf moment with her son Quinn?)

5 Fun Ways To Say Goodbye To Your Elf On The Shelf

4. Throw your Elf On The Shelf a going-away party!

Have your child leave an invitation with his elf, and then decorate a spot in your house on Christmas Eve Eve and put out snacks and games. On Christmas Eve Day, have your elf “land” at the party and pose him accordingly (maybe he’s dancing under a tiny disco ball, face-first in a bowl of chips, or spinning records). I particularly love the scene above, which was created by blogger Amy Locurto. Score the free printable photobooth props at her blog.

5 Fun Ways To Say Goodbye To Your Elf On The Shelf

5. Going away gift!

Have your children wrap a little present (a tiny scarf, a marshmallow, or tiny elf doughnuts) for their elf and place it under the tree on Christmas Eve. Leave behind some kind of “evidence” crumbs, sprinkles, thank you note, etc.) for the kids to find Christmas morning.

5 Fun Ways To Say Goodbye To Your Elf On The Shelf
Image courtesy of http://www.thelondoner.me

Find these ideas and more on our Goodbye Elf on the Shelf Pinterest board.

What about you? How do your kids say goodbye to their Elf On The Shelf?

by Kim Hays
former OMB contributor

Last Minute Christmas Letter to Santa {PRINTABLE}

0

Last Minute Christmas Letter to Santa {PRINTABLE}

Ladies we are hitting crunch time. Hanukkah is in full swing, Christmas is just around the corner, and that special spot filled with packages and wrapping paper is overflowing and getting harder to keep secret. 

You’ve piled into the minivan decked out in matching PJs, Christmas Carols blaring, and hot cocoa with marshmallows in your favorite to go mug to look at the neighborhood lights. Pictures have been taken for holiday cards and appearances were made at your work Christmas party. 

The kids have been drooling over Nintendo Switch’s, Squishes, slime, and poop emoji EVERYTHING…

…but have they written their letter to Santa? No?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Check out this PRINTABLE Dear Santa Letter that is simple enough for a pre-schooler yet simple enough to contain your upper elementary kid’s list. Letter to Santa

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Pair this letter with our favorite cookies, truffles and some delicious hot cocoa {or one of these drinks!} and we are sure that Santa will be super happy! 

Letter to Santa {PRINTABLE}

4 Fun Ideas for Hot Cocoa with Kids

0

As we head into the final countdown towards Christmas and the kiddos are on winter break, here are some fun ideas you can have with everyone’s favorite drink: hot cocoa!

4 Fun Ideas for Hot Cocoa with Kids1. Dress up your cocoa!

The latest trend is decadent milkshakes and drinks. Let your kids experiment with flavored whipped creams, colored marshmallows, sprinkles or drizzle chocolate or caramel sauce on top. BONUS TIP: Don’t leave Mommy out… She can dress up hers too with some Godiva Liqueur!

2. A Healthier Version (shhhh!)

If you’re looking for a healthy, yummy alternative for the kids, there are lots of recipes that don’t use a lot of sugar. Check out this healthy, easy hot cocoa recipe with almond milk.

3. Hot Cocoa Stand!

We may live in Florida, home of citrus, but this time of year, say goodbye to lemonade and hello to hot cocoa stands! Set the kids up with hot drink cups, hot cocoa mix, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles and cute decor (you probably have a bunch out already for your holiday celebrations!). If your neighborhood has a lot of lights, this is a fun activity for the kids to do as people drive through to look at holiday light displays.

 

So as your fun cookie baking activities commence this week, don’t forget this other fun sweet, easy treat… hot cocoa!

When Wanting More Collides with Christmas

3

when-wanting-more-collides-with-christmas2

It’s Christmas. The Season of Giving. But I’m struggling. Struggling because I want.

I’ve spent the last week driving around new subdivisions. Dreaming. Houses with granite countertops and more than one kitchen drawer. Houses with more than 1000 square feet. I want a new house.

I open my closet door each morning and sigh big. I do. I have the same five pants/skirts I wear every. single. week. I dream of coordinating accessories blended perfectly with anything other than my Birks. I want beautiful clothes.

I open my email or I walk into the mall or worse yet, I stroll through Target, and I see an ocean of items I would love to drop into my shopping basket. Books? I could never have enough. Make-up and jewelry and purses, oh my! I want pretty things.

I want.

I want.

It’s Christmas and I want. I do. The confession scrapes me raw.

Then there are my children. Their lists of requests never end. I even rant a bit about their over-the-moon demands. Deep down I know I’m desperate to raise generous givers. The idea of playing a part in the raising of an entitled generation scares me. My hypocrisy scars me.

What now? I’m conflicted. I struggle in my heart against my wants.

Because I have SO MUCH.

Because I look at a picture on my desk at work—every dang day. Her name is Martha. She’s our Compassion International sponsor child. She’s the one who walks daily miles to gather water for her family. The one who takes care of her siblings when her parents are able to farm. The one who writes us about her desires for a good education.

Because I’ve walked the slums of faraway countries and looked into the eyes of poverty like an ocean. Carried back to the land of plenty the mud on my shoes from the dirt floors of cardboard homes. Seen classrooms with seventy children learning from science textbooks thirty years old.

Because I pass the marginalized and downtrodden every day, even here in our gift of a country. I teach students who have been homeless, victimized, discriminated, and ignored. I can drive less than two miles and see the sea of need in my own hometown.

When I face perspective head on, I collide. The collision reminds me tension is a powerful motive. Yes. I have desires. It’s not wrong to want beautiful things. It’s not wrong to enjoy the gifts I’ve been given. But the scale is only ever balanced when I also give.

When I open my palms wide and refuse to hold tight. When I unchain my resources and live selflessly. I will only raise my part of a generous generation when they see me give–even when it hurts.

Because really?

Christmas began when God gifted His Son to humanity.

And in light of this first Gift, my heart shifts. A deep joy begins to well within my soul when I focus on what I can give instead of what I want. It is a choice—a sometimes hard choice—to turn my heart toward what I can do for others. But in this moment, in this action, peace settles in my soul.

It’s the paradox of Christmas. Because it doesn’t matter how much we get, we can still feel empty. Only when we give, do we fill with the Love and Light of this season. So while I may still want a new house and beautiful clothes, I want even more to be a heart that gives.

Dear Momma Trying to Make Christmas Perfect

1

 

Dear Momma Trying to Make Christmas Perfect,

Please stop.

I know your stress. It’s deep. It’s binding—the chaining of emotions to unattainable perfection.

I used to be you.

My young married years were spent attempting to be Martha Stewart. I’d spend endless hours crafting homemade gifts, baking delicious desserts, and decorating every nook and cranny of my home with properly themed colors.

Before we were married, my husband and I purchased a small Christmas tchotchke at the Dollar Tree—Christmas lettered out as a train in cartoonish fashion. For years I hid it from plain view because it didn’t match my themes.

Those early years soon led to children who helped hang ornaments on the tree. In huge clumps. Gaping holes everywhere. At night I would secretly rearrange their vision of beauty into my idea of perfect.

The sad truth is I spent so many hours attempting to create perfection, the joy of the season escaped me.

In more recent years, I uncovered a secret.

After years of stress-filled Christmas memories, I had to break free. And to shatter the chains? I had to learn one thing.

I can’t be perfect. I can’t be Martha. I can’t be you.

I can only be me.

So when I ask you to stop the perfection, I’m not asking you to stop making beautiful, hand-crafted cookies. I’m not asking you to pack away your Elf sitting on the shelf. I’m not asking you to stop creating gorgeous decorating designs.

I’m asking you to be, well, you.

I’ve learned everyone has her own gifts and talents to offer the season.

Maybe moving your Elf creates pure joy each night. I would curl into a ball of nerves every time I looked its way, so the elf has never appeared in my home.

I love baking a decadent dessert for others to enjoy. But maybe you break into hives just thinking about making homemade sweet treats, so buy store treats.

Working for months to make stunning homemade gifts for loved ones may bring you calm and relaxation. For me? I did that one year. Just one. The end.

Listen to me. There is no shame—no shame—in signing up to bring the paper plates and napkins or prepackaged platters to holiday get-togethers. This is often my go-to.

Instead of trying to keep up with the traditions of others, don’t be afraid of creating your own family memories. Memories that fit who your family is—who you are.

One night every Christmas season our family eats a dinner of hot chocolate, homemade cookies, and popcorn as we watch Home Alone. It’s simple. It’s easy.

It’s us.

What do you do well?

What are your passions? Find your Christmas sweet spot and rest there. Rest in those moments, and you will discover how perfect Christmas already is.

Be you.

This is where the magic happens.

Can you imagine? If all mommas stopped trying to outdo and one-up, but instead offered our own beautiful gifts to the Christmas season?

We’d see Christmas with clear eyes, joy-filled hearts, and unchained souls.

I’m learning.

In recent years I’ve moved our tchotchke out in plain view. I no longer rearrange the beauty my children see. I still may get twitchy as I walk past the tree. I now work to create special moments for my children that fit who I am as a person and who we are as a family.

The pressure is off. Perfection is no longer attempted.

The miracle happens when we are ourselves. When we grant ourselves permission to do this, we find the beauty of Christmas exists without our help.

So stop striving and straining, momma. Please stop.

You’ll be so glad you did. Joy is waiting for you.

 

With Love and Understanding,

A Recovering Christmas Perfectionist

 

DSC_0615

Christmas Bucket List

I love Christmas! As soon as the Thanksgiving dinner plates have been cleared from the table, I can be found rummaging through the Christmas bins!

A few years ago, a fellow Christmas-loving friend showed me her list of activities for each day of December, leading up to Christmas Day and I was immediately sold on creating one for my family. I love the idea of having a craft, an event, or a special family tradition — big or small — to enjoy for each day. Here’s our Christmas Bucket List! You can add, delete, or move things around as it works best for your family.

 

Christmas Bucket List

Christmas Bucket List

1. Decorate the Christmas tree while listening to holiday music.
2. Write Santa a letter.
3. Purchase a “giving tree” gift or put together an Operation Christmas Child box.
4. Have family holiday photos taken.
5. Make and mail a Christmas card to a deployed soldier.
6. Make a Christmas wreath for the front door.
7. Decorate a gingerbread house.
8. “Elf” a neighbor (make an adorable arrangement of holiday items for someone in the neighborhood, with the instructions for passing the fun along).
9. Take children individually to buy siblings or family members a thoughtful inexpensive gift.
10. Visit Santa.
11. ICE! at Gaylord Palms.
12. Bake Christmas cookies.
13. Visit a local living nativity.
14. Purchase a new holiday book to read with the family.
15. Attend a Christmas Parade.
16. Create a Christmas themed craft or decoration for the house.
17. Make a homemade ornament to add to the tree.
18. Grandma and Grandpa take the kids to buy an inexpensive surprise gift for my husband and me while we go on a dinner date.
19. Go to Light up UCF at UCF.
20. Take a family drive, admiring Christmas lights.
21. Hot cocoa and hanging of our stockings.
22. Give each family member new Christmas pajamas.
23. Read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2.
24. Watch a special Christmas movie and fall asleep under the tree (and then take the kids up to bed).
25. Have a special breakfast, open gifts including one family game to play later in the day.

This time of year can create such special memories for our children. I love this idea of celebrating Christmas each day leading up to the day that we celebrate Jesus’ birth. Do you celebrate the first 24 days of December in a similar way? Do you have any other fun suggestions for activities?

 

10 Gifts for Mamas-To-Be

I don’t do well with Christmas lists – I’m one of those people who gets things for myself throughout the year, so when the holidays roll around, I’m fresh out of ideas! Seeing that I’m currently 36 weeks pregnant with baby number four and have been asked by family and friends to provide them with a few ideas, I started making a list of things I’d appreciate both pre and post baby. I’m also trying to focus on not adding more clutter to our house as we get ready to transition to a family of SIX! ‘Tis the season to be pregnant, so here are my 10 gifts for mamas-to-be.

10 gifts for mamas-to-be1. Manicure/Pedicure

I actually didn’t get my first mani/pedi until I was out of college and I don’t know what took me so long! These are especially great in the third trimester when I can hardly bend down to tie my shoes. Gift cards to a specific spa or salon work great, or better yet – offer to go with her! One of my local favorites,  M.C. Spa & Nail Bar, even offers pedicures WITH massages. (Even the lowest package offers a 15 minute massage!).

2. Maternity Photos

I took plenty of weekly belly photos, but professional maternity photos were something I never wanted to splurge on for myself. Since this is most likely our last baby, I decided to treat myself to a maternity session with local photographer, Jessica Morelli. Most photographers will offer gift cards or money towards a future session, so that the mama-to-be can pick the date that works best for her. Some (like Jessica!) even offer dresses to wear for the sessions, which was wonderful because I didn’t need to go shopping for anything extra!

[easy-image-collage id=22535]

3. House Cleaning

There’s nothing like the feeling of your entire house being clean, especially when you just want to put your feet up and relax! This gift is great for pre or postnatal mamas. I found a mom that came highly recommended in my Winter Garden Moms group. She cleans my house from top to bottom, twice a month and it’s been one of the best investments I could have made.

Tip: Ask around to find a recommended and local favorite (don’t forget to check Groupon and Amazon Home Services)!

4. Postpartum Doula Services

I use a doula during delivery, but didn’t actually know about the postpartum services offered until having my second baby. There’s a wide range of services that can be included, but they often include breastfeeding help, sibling care, light housekeeping, sleeping solutions, care for baby when parents want to shower/nap/spend time with older children, prepare pump supplies or bottles, caring for mama as she recovers from birth, errands and overall support during the transition time. Most doulas will cater to the specific needs of each new mom. Childbirth Concierge in Winter Garden offers a wide range of these services, as well as my doula, Ohana Mama Birth Services.

5. Food Delivery Services

One of my favorite things to do is bring meals to new moms after they have their babies. I remember that I didn’t feel like leaving my house with a newborn – ESPECIALLY to go grocery shopping. Dropping off home cooked meals isn’t always feasible, but there are all kinds of delivery services that would make incredible gifts for new moms: Instacart, Shipt, AmazonFresh, or even Uber Eats for something quick and already prepared!

Tip: Set up an ongoing meal train using Take them a Meal or Mealtrain.

6. Massage (Pre OR Post-natal)

I’ve gotten a few prenatal massages that have been absolutely incredible! Now that I’m towards the end of this pregnancy, everything is aching and sore, my ankles are swollen and I’m just feeling generally uncomfortable. I’d take a massage once a week until delivery if anyone was offering! I had a few friends say that post-natal massages, within the first 12 weeks after having baby, were also equally relaxing and needed. There are some massage places that even offer monthly memberships, which could be nice to get a mama through pregnancy and beyond!

Tip: If you are giving a prenatal massage, be sure the location offers that service.

7. Newborn Photography

These photos are best taken in the first 7-10 days and most photographers will pencil in the due date and work around mom and baby. Tip: Find a photographer that will come to the house and do a lifestyle session! There’s something about capturing those first precious memories at home that are worth holding onto! 10 gifts for mamas-to-be

8. Pajamas/Lounge Wear

I don’t care what anyone says, clothes just fit weird after having a baby. You’re stuck in between the maternity clothes being a little too big and your regular clothes not fitting. When you’re recovering from birth, you want stretchy, comfortable and cozy. If mom is breastfeeding, make sure any tops are nursing friendly! Some of my favorite brands are Gilligan & O’Malley and Kindred Bravely.

9. The Gift of Downtime

Sometimes we just want a night off (from cooking, taking care of other children, running errands, whatever it may be). You could put together a basket that includes an essential oil diffuser, spa/bath products, candles, comfy pajamas, a Redbox rental code, and a sleep mask. Don’t forget babysitting services if there are older kids – give her the house to herself!

10. Hair Salon Services

This could be a variety of things: a new cut, color, even just a blow out! I always feel SO good after getting my hair done and once baby is here, it’s so much harder to find the time.

Tip: You could combine a few of these ideas to put together a pamper day for the new mom! 


 

Share your favorite gift ideas in the comments below! What sort of things did you enjoy, or looking back, what do you WISH you would have asked Santa for?

Holiday Gifts From Baby

0

holdiay-gifts-from-baby3

This year is our little one’s first Christmas and I wanted to give holiday gifts from the baby to all the relatives. This could get quite expensive if store-bought so I began researching ideas of simple, inexpensive (and easy!) homemade gifts that I could give everyone on Christmas morning.

There are so many cute ideas online (you can use baby’s fingerprints, handprints and footprints for many adorable gifts), but in the end I chose to make something I did with my mom when I was a child — Salt Dough Ornaments.

These are super easy and fun to make (you can get really creative with cookie cutters and a little paint), and I decided to do handprints for our baby’s first holiday season. All you need is salt, water, flour, ribbon and little hands to get started!

salt dough
Salt Dough Ornaments

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • A straw or toothpick to make hole for ribbon
  • Acrylic paint (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Mix together flour, salt and water to knead until a play-dough like dough is formed. If dough is sticky add in a touch more flour and if dough is dry add a little extra water to get the right consistency.
  3. Roll out dough as you would to make cookies and use cookie cutters or the rim of a glass to cut out designs for your ornaments (I used the rim of a glass to make round ornaments that our little one’s hand print would fit nicely in). This recipe should make about 15 ornaments.
  4. Press hand print (or footprint) into dough.
  5. Use a straw to cut a hole in the top of ornament to thread ribbon after baked.
  6. Bake ornaments for about 2-2.5 hours and let cool for an hour.
  7. Paint if desired (they also look beautiful without paint). If painting let dry for one hour.
  8. Thread ribbon to hang!

 

FOLLOW US

18,138FansLike
11,267FollowersFollow
376FollowersFollow
1,445FollowersFollow

Guide To Orlando

Orlando Theme Park Guide

2
Theme parks and Orlando. They are one in the same! For every tourist and local, we all want to know the best tips and suggestions to make the theme park experience the BEST!

Orlando Mom Guide to Orlando