Posts Categorized: Family

Putting Creativity back into Christmas

Our family is going overseas for the holidays this year.  I hate the thought of Santa having to turn up at our holiday destination because it means I have to lug oversized bags full of gifts both there and back. A family of eight has enough gear to drag around.

To avoid this situation, I had the children write to Santa and ask him to come to our house early in hopes of having their presents delivered before the trip. This system actually works well, except for the fact that I’m Santa and if you think it’s tough meeting a December 25th shopping deadline, try pushing it forward a month. Yeah, that’s the not awesome part.

Having said that – I think I nailed some great presents this year. Each kiddo in our family ends up with one big ticket item. I tried to think outside the “gadget” box and have come up with some awesome presents that my kiddos will love. Here are my faves:

1)      A mermaid tail. (Yes, you can actually buy mermaid tails online.) I have one kid who spends most of her time swimming in the pool pretending to be a mermaid. When she’s not doing that, she is watching mermaid shows and movies. I can only imagine how delighted she will be when she unwraps her very own mermaid tail ( with a built in fin.

2)      An instant camera. Yep, what’s old is new again. Remember the old Polaroid cameras? If you have a kid who is an “in the moment” type, this camera might be a winner!

3)      Extra special Pokemon cards. It just so happens that a kid in our neighbourhood recently won the World Pokemon Championship. Believe me – it’s a thing, a BIG thing. And now the “Andrew Estrada Winning Deck” is available for purchase. My Pokemon crazed kids will go off the rails when this turns up under the tree.

4)      A Harry Potter Chess Set. One daughter has two loves: Harry Potter and chess. So why not marry them in a themed chess board? It’s a bit of an investment, but I’d rather put my money into a chess set than a lot of other things she could be begging for.

5)      A GoPro Camera. Do you have an adventurous kid? I sure do, and she’d like to catch all of her daring stunts on film. Some of these gadgets can run pretty pricey, but if you shop around, you can find one for a pretty reasonable price.

6)      Hey, let’s not forget mom!  I spotted this little beauty and immediately sourced a talented knitting mama and commissioned her to make one for me. I always get myself the best presents. I know me so well!

Have you found anything special Christmas gift ideas to get your kiddos this year? Are you anticipating anything surprising and fabulous this holiday season?


About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Three tips to increase your child’s communication skills + Contest!

Communicating is an important part of a child development. Though all children progress at their own pace, if you are looking for ways to help your child with his/her communication skills and listening skills at home, here are three tips which you may find helpful.

1) Get Face-to-Face with your Child
This allows your child to pay closer attention to your face and what you are doing with your lips, tongue, etc., since body language is a large part of communicating. It also lets YOU pay attention to what your child is interested in and makes it easier for you to identify your child’s attempts at non-verbal communication. Communication does not need to be in the form of words or sentences. It can be as simple as a look, a gesture, sounds or words.

2) Follow Your Child’s Lead
We all have our OWN favourite toys, however, it is important to follow what toys and activities your CHILD is interested in. When your child is interested, their motivation to learn and communicate is enhanced. Respond enthusiastically to your child’s interests and join them in this activity. This interaction allows for many communication opportunities, and most importantly, your child will love this special time with mom or dad!

3) Interpret Your Child’s Message
Your child may not use words, but you can still help their communication along by interpreting what they are “saying” to you. Your child may be pointing or nodding, pulling you towards an item, or making sounds. These are all great preverbal ways of communicating but to help those words along, interpret your child’s message by saying a word or phrase that matches your child’s gesture or sound. In other words, say what your child would say if he/she could. For example your child points to the bubble you just blew, you can say, “bubble, big bubble.”

These three tips are a great start to helping your child on his/her way to becoming an effective communicator. Speech therapy sessions with our In-Home Speech Therapists incorporate these tips for good communication skills and many more. For more detailed speech pathology tips or activities for late talkers or early language development in children, please contact us at or 1 844 804 5437.

About the Author:

Erin Avramidis is a Registered Speech Therapist and Founder of Speech Kids Canada, an In-Home Speech therapy company supporting children in Southern Ontario and the GTA. For weekly speech therapy tips and activities follow Speech Kids @speechkidsCA on twitter and visit



Would you like to win a free Speech Assessment? In the comments below, tell us why you think the assessment would be useful and you could win an assessment with Erin!

If you’re in Barrie, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Halton Hills, all of Halton, Cambridge, Kitchener/Waterloo, Hamilton/Niagara, face to face for an assessment.  Otherwise, for clients outside of those areas a video call!

Contest is open from November 20, 2014 at 1pm EST to November 26, 2014 at 11:59pm EST

The PANK Perspective: Brides + Babies + Birthdays = Broke

With the holidays approaching and with me having a Type A personality, I’ve been thinking about gift ideas and putting funds away into my savings account since August. I want to avoid the credit card crash with the typical effect of overspending that occurs in November and December.

It can be very easy to shop til you drop with Holiday gift giving and with retail introducing sales and products as soon as Halloween is over it’s hard not to spend.

Add bridal showers, weddings, baby showers and birthday present ideas to the mix and ta-da, a big chunk of your income has gone to others. I love giving gifts, both gifts for women and for men; I think I’m pretty good at it. I’m creative and like to think of things that have meaning and are somewhat personalized.

For example, for a wedding gift, I purchased a custom print from my friends Dad, D. R. Laird which had a winter scene with Newfoundland Labradors which the couple had two of. The print was professionally framed and personally signed by the artist.

Once for a bridal shower, I gave the bride carry-on luggage for her honeymoon complete with travel safe toiletries, a magazine and a luggage tag.

Giving the monetary gifts is not my style; however I’m finding it harder and harder to think of unusual gifts and Christmas gift ideas that are practical and personalized but don’t cost a fortune.

So with the holidays approaching and a family member with a birthday in each month of the year (yes, there is one Every. Single. Month.), anniversaries, baby showers, weddings and bridal showers, how do you avoid going into debt by giving gifts?

Do you like to DIY your gifts? Are you a re-gifter? Do you only shop during sales and or use coupons? Share your tips and secrets; I’d love to know how you budget for life events for family and friends.


About the Author:

Diane Morris is a PANK; Professional Aunt, No Kids and works for Mabel’s Labels as the Sales Coordinator. She’s an Aunt to two boys, and an “Auntie” to her boyfriend’s niece and nephew. She’s a sucker for romance, country music and peanut butter.

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