Halloween Holly: A New Family Tradition

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Halloween Holly: A New Family Tradition

Okie dokie, Parents! Halloween is just around the corner and that means that the decorations are out, the costumes have been decided upon, and you’re gearing up to stock up on your  Halloween candy favorites. I was just telling my husband this week how we used to have our candy bowl set out on the kitchen table always filled to the brim with our favorite candy minis and we’d snack upon them all month long. That tradition quickly fizzled out after the first year we were married after discovering the yucky ingredients that’s found in conventional Halloween candy.

But we needed to limit the amount of sugar we were consuming period. I’ve always enjoyed letting my kiddos dress up and trick-or-treat for gobs and gobs of candy. Let’s be honest; the best part of letting our kids trick-or-treat is so that we can paw through their stash, lol! I will never forget when the twins were four years old and they’d run down the neighbor’s sidewalks yelling, “Mommy! I got an Almond Joy for you!” Yep… my kiddos knew how much a absolutely loved Almond Joys. I still do. But I no longer consume them.

On our journey to healthier living it quickly dawned on me that the amount of candy my kids received at Halloween time would last until Easter. I noticed my kids reaching for candy instead of fruit or healthier snacks. I would let my kids pick out a few pieces of their favs and bag up the rest to take with me to school to hand out as rewards for my students at school or send my husband with the leftovers to drop off in the break room at work.

Then one day last fall I came across Halloween Holly.  Cara Via is a mom of two boys and a Halloween enthusiast. She is the creator and author behind Halloween Holly. Cara was also faced with the candy dilemma that parents face each year: too much candy, meltdowns, upset tummies, and dreaded struggles. Her goal was to keep Halloween fun while avoiding all of the downsides and aftermath that often comes after the Halloween festivities.

Holly is an elfairy (part elf, part fairy) that lives at the North Pole with Santa. While visiting Santa’s workshop, Holly learns that the secret to the Christmas elves’ energy is CANDY! When a candy shortage threatens the Christmas deadline, Holly springs into action and comes up with a marvelous idea! Holly tells Santa that everyone needed to know about the candy secret and emergency at the North Pole. She’s sure that once the secret is out that everyone will be willing to share their Halloween candy to help the elves out.

Holly quickly spreads the news to children far and wide and encourages them to collect as much candy as they possibly can while their out trick-or-treating. With a parent’s help, each child would get to pick out 10 pieces of their favorite candy to snack on and then they’ll place the rest in a special bowl. After Halloween, Halloween Holly comes to collect the candy and bring it back to the elves. So now, Santa needs each kids help in order to save Christmas. And Mom and Dad’s sanity is saved knowing that their kiddos still get to participate in the Halloween festivities without experiencing the negative cons afterwards.

My twins were really excited about adding this new tradition to our home because they agree that there is an overload of candy after all of the Halloween events and this is a healthy balance of fun and having treats in moderation all while saving those pearly whites!

Cara has created such a fun and ingenious family tradition to add to your family traditions and transform your festivities! A huge thank you to Cara and Halloween Holly for gifting this to our family! You can get your very own Halloween Holly here.

What are some of your favorite family traditions? I’d love to hear about them! 🎃🍬👻

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Last-Minute Gift Guides For The Whole Family On A Budget

This post contains affiliate links. Please read more about my disclosure policy here.

Christmas Gift Guides For The Whole Family On A Budget

Christmas is getting close! That means you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time for those last minute gifts to get to their recipients on time. If you’re like my family, you’re on a budget and may be wondering just how can you possibly give gifts while on a budget.

All is takes is a little creativity, discipline, and planning. You can find my healthy and unique gift guides for everyone on your list this holiday season!

The REAL Reason For The Season

Let me preface this gift guide by saying that remembering that Jesus is the true reason for the Christmas season. Sadly, it’s all too easy to get caught up with keeping up with the Joneses. As Rachel Cruze would say, “They’re broke!”

Are you tempted to get those holiday gifts by putting them on a credit card? Don’t do it. That’s another post for another day. But do let me help you get pumped by giving you a few tricks and tips for having a stress-free Christmas!

  • Write out a list of your gift recipients.
  • Set a limit for each individual on your list and stick to that budget.
  • Set aside cash and do not go beyond that.
  • Consider omitting unnecessary recipients; What?!

Yes, when we started our debt-free journey we straight up told family members that we would not be exchanging gifts and only buying for the kiddos. Try getting creative by making gifts or doing a family gift instead. You may have friends and family look at you as if you’re crazy but it’s not other peoples’ finances. If they’re not understanding then that is on them and them alone. Yes, this is the season of giving but think of how you can give of your time or talents.

Offer to help a neighbor shovel their driveway or help a new mom wrap her presents. Maybe you can cook up a meal or two for someone on your list. There’s lots of ways that you can give to others without having to spend money.

On To The Gift Guides!

Last Christmas was our first Christmas after starting our debt-free journey. My husband and I agreed from the start that we did not need to get each other a gift. We stopped and looked around at what we already had: a home, running vehicles, fuel in our cars, healthy and organic groceries in the fridge, my husband’s job that made sure that all of the bills were paid on time, our family, our health, and our children. When we took the time to focus on what we already had we were so content with not getting each other a gift. So, who came next on the list?


We now have three kiddos and last year was our youngest’s first Christmas. She was too little to have any idea what was going on nor would she remember who gave her what. Our children have grandparents, great grandparents, aunt and uncles, and family friends who all give our kids gifts at Christmas. Sometimes the overload is absolute insanity! When Christmas morning is over I look around at gift after gift. I’ve always joked how we’d be just fine not giving our children anything and they wouldn’t even notice.

A few years back I saw a gift-giving rule about getting kids four things:

  1. Something they want
  2. Something they need
  3. Something to wear
  4. Something to read

It’s minimal yet oh so perfect! I communicate with family members about what we’re doing and what other family members are doing as well so that there aren’t any duplicates. Did you know that Target even offers Kids’ Wish Lists?? Yup! This is so unbelievably awesome because you, as the parent, control what items are on the list. You can just about add anything! If Santa wants to include toothbrushes and deodorant in those stockings he sure can!

I’m also not a fan of cheap, plastic toys that take up space and room and won’t last through the month. You work hard for your money so don’t waste it on nonsense. Gift cards may seem impersonal but make the most sense because your gift recipient can go snag whatever they want (or more importantly need) during the after Christmas sales or whenever they want to redeem them. Gift cards make the best last minute gift idea and a lot you can even send electronically! Save your money by not paying for silly shipping!

I’m also all about experiences over more stuff in our home. Clutter and items create stress; why not gift something that those on your list can do?? Groupon has a lot of great experiences for everyone and its super affordable!

We have family that live all over and the shipping costs can add up quickly. I look at that outgoing money as money I could have applied elsewhere. Gift cards and Groupon activities have made gifting without shipping all that much more convenient. Through December 23 Target is also offering free shipping and returns, too! Another reason to love Target!

Baby/Toddler Gift Guides


Diapers are the most practical and appreciated gift to give to any expecting or new parents. Those suckers can get spendy so why not help out mom and dad and give a gift that will give often? Just think, every time they’re changing diapers they’ll think of you – and that’s a lot of thankfulness!

The Honest Co. diapers are my favorite because they come in festive and adorable prints. A package of diapers aren’t quite complete without  wipes, cream, and bath time essentials.

Little People

I remember playing with my mom’s Little People at my Grandparent’s when I was a kid. The twins absolutely loved their Fisher Price Little People and although they’ve changed over the years, Little People are a genuine classic toy that is a must-have on your list for youngsters. They last for years as the age ranges from 1 1/2 to 5 years old. They may seem a bit pricey at first but I look at them as an investment for five years of play! I have all of the twins’ old Fisher Price Little People from almost ten years ago and the magic is still there!

This year, my youngest daughter is fascinated with “Mimi” Mouse and “Gigi” (Grandma Kathy) found her a Mickey Mouse Little People house and the whole Mickey Mouse gang. This couldn’t be a more perfect gift for my 20-month old!

Little Tikes 3-in-1 Sports Zone

It’s never too early to teach little ones about health and fitness. If your toddlers have older siblings and those siblings are involved in sports then it’s quite possible that your littles are just itching to get out there and play too! Little Tikes 3-in-one Sports Zone is so versatile. It’s for one year olds up to three year olds and features a basketball hoop, a soccer ball net, and a bowling zone. It is designed to grow with your child and fold nicely for easy storage. My daughter’s Auntie Brittny will be spoiling her with this Christmas morning surprise that’s sure to be hours of fun!

Cabbage Patch Kids

If you’re an 80s kid like I am then you definitely remember Cabbage Patch Kids! My toddler received her very first Cabbage Patch Kids Cutie for her birthday last spring when Lola the Giraffe was all the rage as the world watched in anticipation for her to have her baby on live television. Well, her little cutie has been her baby ever since. When September rolled around, we were having lunch at Cracker Barrel after church when Little Missy spotted Oliver Pumpkin and kept saying, “Baby! Baby!” My Grandparent’s treated her to owning Oliver for the fall season and “Gigi” will be surprising her with Holly Reindeer.

The Cabbage Patch craze led my husband and I right to our single gift for our little one. We decided on the Cabbage Patch Kids Drink and Wet Travel Set. Its suggested for 2 year olds and up but our 20 month old is just shy of that mark. Small pieces will be put away until she’s old enough. But the crib and stroller will be perfect for her babies! It even comes with a baby. I like to rotate my daughter’s toys out every month so she’s not overwhelmed and all of her toys get played with. The extra baby will be perfect for switching out babies or having an extra on on hand.

POtty Chair

I lucked out with having the twins fully potty trained at 17 months. Little One is definitely ready to be introduced to the beginning stages of potty training. We have a two-story home and while I held on to the potty chair I had with the twins, I’ll need one for our downstairs bathroom as well.

This Fisher Price Learn-to-Flush Potty is too cute! It “flushes”, plays music, and lights up. The best part is that the blue seat is removable and sits nicely on an adult-sized toilet! How awesome is that?? I can’t wait to start potty training after Christmas! A few great additions to assist with the potty training process are some training paints, step stool, hand soap, and rewards.


You can never go wrong with a new book or two to add to a child’s library! Share the love of reading by introducing little ones to your favorite childhood favorites or a new one on the market.

I’ve requested potty training books to have in the bathrooms to help Little One relax. She enjoys looking at the colorful pictures and I love expanding her vocabulary. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. How To Pee
  2. Princess Potty
  3. The New Potty (Little Critter)
  4. My Big Girl Undies
  5. Girls’ Noisy Potty Book

Other toddler gift ideas are:

  1. H is For Happy: An Emoji ABC Book of Feelings – a modern take on learning the ABCs and teach youngsters about their feelings.
  2. My First Crayola – palm grip crayons that help strengthen little hands.
  3. Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube – great for dexterity and shape and color recognition.
  4. Melissa & Doug Fish Colors, ABC, and Numbers Puzzle Bundle – a great age to introduce puzzles and learn colors, letters, and numbers.

Kids Age 8-10

My twins actually asked for gift cards and cash this year. They realize that they already have a lot of things and want to minimize the amount of toys in their rooms. They’re also at that transitional age where they’re starting to outgrow toys but they’re not quite into those really expensive electronics (Whew! Thank goodness for that!).  But it has also made gift giving a bit tricky.

My twins think it’s a special treat when we go out to eat, grab a cocoa or frappe, or they get to “pay” for their own items with a gift card. You just can’t go wrong with a gift card!

My twins have enjoyed receiving Legos, Lalaloopsies, a Nintendo DS and games, and movies to add to their collection.

They also love to read and getting new books really excites them!

Last year, my daughter really wanted an art easel and art supplies from Michaels. While we were there we picked up models and paint sets for my son. The twins really enjoyed spending hours exploring their creative sides and still look forward for lazy Saturdays to paint.

If it snows where you live sleds are an excellent gift idea for the whole family, too!

Gifts For the Whole Family

I am definitely all about experiences over more things so if you’re absolutely stumped check out these unique gift ideas.

Kidartlit offers a monthly book and craft subscription for families with children. You get to pick your subscription and each month Kidartlit sends a beautiful book with a related art project. The boxes arrive in all ready to go so that you can engage with your kiddos right away.


Most homes have Netflix and/or Hulu. I had to cancel our Netflix subscription because there just weren’t good shows I felt at peace about knowing that my kids could see the titles (even on the Kid Feauture).  Pureflix is wholesome movies and shows for the entire family that you can stream right to your personal device or television. You can check them out before subscribing because your first month is absolutely free! Woohoo!

Night In A Box is a wonderful gift for anyone on your list! This company offers Kids Night In, Faith Night In and Date Night In. There are lots of wonderful options to choose from and help out if you or someone on your list is on a budget. These Night In Boxes are a great way for couples and families to spend quality time together. Each box comes with everything you need to connect in new and creative ways.

Stocking Stuffers

Whether or not your kiddos are too old to to believe in the magic of Santa or he isn’t someone that your family observes, that’s okay. Stocking stuffers are still fun little gifts to give to others!
My personal favorites are the Christmas candies! As an adult I’ve learned about all of the terrible ingredients in those all time favorites and went on the hunt for healthier alternatives. I want to thank Wholesome for sending our family organic candy canes when I couldn’t find them in our local stores this year. Our entire family loves candy canes as a seasonal treat to stir into our hot cocoa, hang on our tree, and leave a few for Santa to put in the stockings. The best part about these candy canes is that they don’t have any artificial flavors or colors, are made with four simple ingredients including natural peppermint oil, organic fruit juice for color, and Wholesome Organic Fair Trade Cane Sugar. They’re also gluten, dairy, nut free and don’t contain and high fructose corn syrup. Wholesome also sent us some of their Delish Fish which are comparable to Swedish Fish but waaayyy yummier!!! They also threw in Organic Fruit Chews which remind me Starburst but again, they are so much better than Starburst and better for you, too. Thank you so very much again to Wholesome and their team for sending these goodies to our home for the holidays!

I enjoy putting gum in my kiddos’ stockings each year but the conventional gums have so many bad ingredients that I had to give up my chewing gum addiction. Then, I came across Glee Gum! Their name sure is perfect because these cute little squares definitely bring joy and smiles! Glee Gum comes packaged in cute little boxes just right for sliding in your pocket or mommy purse. My kiddos love to open their lunch boxes and find a Glee Gum box inside for after lunch! Wait’ll they wake up on Christmas morning to find these in their stockings! They’re just the right size for loading up stockings. This year, Glee Gum came out with gum pops, too! Similar to Blow Pops, Glee Gum Pops are the first all natural gum pop. Just like Glee Gum, Glee Gum Pops aren’t made with any artificial ingredients, colors, or preservatives. They’re gluten and allergy free, too!

I want to extend a special thank-you to the Glee Company as well for generously sending us a box of their assortment box of gum, a bag of Glee Gum Pops, and a chocolate making kit! Thank you so very much for sending these goodies! We can’t wait to try the chocolate making kit over Christmas Break!

One of the best and favorite treats for younger ones are Yum Earth’s Organic Candy Cane Pops and Organic Christmas Fruit Snacks. Certified organic, non-GMO, and gluten free! No artificial colors or preservatives.

With all of the holiday goodies and calorie-laden foods, it can be rather tricky to keep your eating on track. Suja Organic Cold-Pressed juices are a fantastic way to stay on top of getting key nutrients. They taste great, too! The celery-cucumber is more of a veggie flavor while the Sweet Beets is a bit sweeter. I’m looking forward to trying a new flavor each time I make a trip to the grocery store. Suja juices are certified organic, non-GMO, vegan and gluten-free, and come in BPA free bottles. As a breastfeeding Momma these juices are the perfect pick-me-up during the busy holiday season. They also make an awesome stocking stuffer, too!

I’m such a sucker for lip balms! I always have been since I was a little girl. The Lip Smacker obsession has turned to EOS lip balm. This holiday season they have Peppermint Cream, Peppermint Mocha, Sweet Mint Sphere and Pomegranate-Raspberry Stick, and Strawberry Sphere and Vanilla Bean Stick.

Target even has a Holiday 3-pack just perfect for stuffing any girl’s stocking! The holiday pack comes with sparkling ginger! Are your lips watering yet?

Yum Bath Treats are handmade with love and only natural ingredients like essential oils, coconut oil, almond oil, and shea butter. They’re absolutely adorable and look good enough to eat! If you subscribe to their email list you’ll save 15% off of your first order, too!



I bought a Wetbrush this summer and my daughter loved it so much that she is constantly asking to use mine (and then I have to go hunt it down each time those little hands borrow Mommy’s brush!). Her favorite color is teal and I found her the perfect Wetbrush Duo – a full-sized brush and a mini brush to keep in her backpack.

Prim & Pure Natural Fruit and Veggie Safe Polish is another stocking stuffer that is making our list this year.

Winter weather means dry, cracked itching and bleeding hands. But they don’t have to be when combated with The Honest Company’s Organic Healing Balm. I swear by this stuff! It is truly healing and the only cream we keep in our home. It works so well as a diaper cream, too!

Speaking of gifts for babies, how about a few gifts for mommies-to-be or a current mommy? Earth Mama has some fabulous products for both babies and mommies. Milkmaid tea tastes amazing and is great for breastfeeding mommas. I still enjoy drinking it! Earth Mama sent me a deodorant set along with their new Baby Face Organic Nose & Cheek and a Coconut Smoothie Lip Balm. Pushing out baby is a lot of work and can dry those mommy lips out. Don’t let baby receive a scratchy kiss from mom and send both baby and momma smooth lips. She’ll love to have one item checked off of her hospital bag list.



I have such a hard time shopping for the men in my life. Can you relate? These guys are awesome! But they make gift-giving a challenge. My husband loves to read. His nightly reading actually lead us to start our debt-free journey. I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. This is honestly a great gift for anyone on your list. An absolute must read!

If your gift recipients have already read The Total Money Makeover, add Chris Hogan’s Retire Inspire to their library.  These two books will change their lives forever. They won’t be able to look at finances the same way again.

Devotional books also make a nice gift for guys. My Grandpa and husband are big fans of Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling, Jesus Always, Jesus Today, and Jesus Lives. They read these books over and over each year!

I hope that these guides help you for those last-minute gifts on a budget! What are some budget-friendly gift ideas that you have used in the past or applied this year? I’d love to hear your ideas! Please comment below.


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