Scary Santa (or Being Jewish on Christmas)

There are many aspects of Christmas that I envy as a Jewish girl.  Tree trimming,(and the fabulous ornament shopping and collecting), baking, decorating, just one morning of gifts instead of eight nights of pressure, and the amazing holiday songs (the best of which were written by Jews)

But Santa was never a source of envy for me.

A strange man manages to break into your home, even though your parents have assured you that could never happen. He eats your cookies and tries to win your favor by leaving toys.  (Don’t take toys from strangers, right?)

But weirdest of all is that your mom will stick you on the strange man’s lap and expect you to be happy about it.  If you’re Jewish it is especially strange to partake in this tradition.  Or, as you can see from this photo of me, and my screaming sister, terrifying.

scary santa

And don’t get me started on the Easter Bunny.

Check Out KidzVuz on WPIX Morning News: Hot Holiday Picks for Tweens!

Yesterday, Nancy Friedman and I were incredibly excited to do our first live on-air TV segment for KidzVuz.com.  We were featured on the WPIX Morning News here in NYC with two awesome KidzVuz reviewers to show the best holiday picks for tweens – by tweens!  Aren’t you sick of hearing adults go on and on about what kids want – only to discover your kid didn’t really care about that supposedly “hot” toy at all?  Well, we are lucky to have kids all over the country telling us what’s cool, trending or on their wish lists every day on KidzVuz.com.    Check out our awesome segment with the incredibly wonderful Tamsen Fadal who was beyond genuinely nice and great with the kids!

And check out the amazing giveaway for some of these products and a Windows HTC phone on KidzVuzParents.com.  Plus there’s still time for your kid to enter to win a $100 Visa Gift Card on KidzVuz.com.

The Yule Log – An NYC Wordless Wednesday Fireplace

Nothing says holidays in NYC like the Yule Log.  Because who builds a fire in an NYC apartment?  If you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in NYC the answer was WPIX (channel 11).  Now it’s available on demand on TWC channel 1006 – in HD.  So much better than hauling wood – and greener too!

Creating a Magically Priceless Holiday Season in NYC

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It goes without saying that I love raising my kids in NYC.  One of things I love the most is the incredible opportunities that are available to us just by living here.  We’ve gone behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Opera (this actually fulfilled one of MY biggest wishes), been to the Origami Tree Lighting at the American Museum of Natural History, skated in Central Park and watched the giant Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloons get inflated a block from their school. I’m always looking for the unique and special experiences that will be memorable and make my girls fully appreciate where they live.

This year I’ve discovered the Mastercard Priceless NY events to add to my must do holiday list.  I had the seriously fun pleasure of going to FAO Schwarz at 7:00 am – BEFORE it opened – to tour the store, get a first-hand look at all of the hottest new toys this season (many of which are featured in the KidzVuz Tween Gift Guide) and finally stock up on an awesome bag of candy!!  I didn’t take my daughters since they had to be at school – but really, being an adult at an empty FAO Schwarz was plenty fantastic.  I grew up in Brooklyn, and FAO was one of those magical places – like the Met, Lincoln Center and Broadway – that was reserved for a very special occasion, or a visiting relative.  I am so happy that they did not close it and have maintained much of what makes it magical.

While this event was great, even better is that I have now learned about all of the incredible Mastercard Priceless NY events and I’m hooked.  The NY Botanical Gardens Train Show before it opens to the public?  Yes.  A day spent with New Yorker cartoonists?  Definitely.  And there are so many more.  I’ve become addicted to the site actually – checking off all of the experiences I want to do and trying to figure out how to make them all work in our holiday calendar!  I think living in NYC is priceless – but it’s easy to lose sight of it sometimes.  So, I’m loving a site that helps me remember why I choose to raise my kids here and help us take full advantage of all there is to enjoy!

Check out the unique offerings at Mastercard.com (they’re doing London and Toronto too – so if you live there check those out!)

I received a gift card and a whole lotta candy at the FAO Schwarz event but it in no way influenced this post (except for the sugar rush, which contributed to the rambling)

The KidzVuz Gift Guide for Tweens is Here!

I’m all for bargain hunting, though Black Friday is pretty much my least favorite event in the world.  Nothing is worth the crowds and madness (and pepper spray) in my book.  But I do love to figure out exactly the right gift for the people in my life.  There is nothing better than watching someone’s face when they open your gift and it’s PERFECT! Of course some people are easier to buy for than others – and one notoriously difficult group to buy for are tweens.  Too old for your typical kids gifts, too young to be completely jaded and want only gift cards, you have to hit this group right on target or risk the eye-roll, or worse.

So, with that in mind we actually went to the source and asked our KidzVuz reviewers want they want this holiday season.  Then we did some pretty cool scouting ourselves at Toy Fair, from our friends at The Big Toy Book, and at all of the cool tech and toy previews we’ve been to this year.

We made our list, we checked it twice (actually about 50 times but we don’t want to make Santa feel like a slacker)  Then we threw in a whole bunch of amazing giveaways and came up with our gift guide.  It’s so big we’ve broken it into three parts rolling out today, Monday and Wednesday.  So hop on over to the KidzVuz.com parent blog and start making your list and entering our giveaways so you can be the gift giving champion of the season!

 

The No Schlepping, No Shipping Gift Guide (With a Giveaway of Course)

We’ll be lighting the menorah on Wednesday night while leftover cranberry sauce still jiggles in the back of the fridge.  Even the procrastinators have an excuse this year (not like Christmas which is always the 25th, I mean come on it’s not like you didn’t see it coming!)  So for all of you who have been caught by surprise here is my no schlep, no ship gift guide when it’s gotta be there ASAP but you don’t want to get off your ASS to get it -or even pay for shipping.  Good for Xmas (and those sneaky birthdays too)

Many of my specific suggestions are NYC-centric but you can take the idea and Google away locally!

1 – Museum or Zoo Membership: I love NYC for the incredibly rich array of cultural institutions that enrich every borough.  But, no matter where you live chances are there’s a museum, zoo or other site that your loved ones would go to on a regular basis.  Membership is a fantastic way to give all year long, plus it’s tax deductible and takes up no room in the house!  Win-win all around.  And sometimes they throw in a T-Shirt too!

My faves: The American Museum of Natural History and Wildlife Conservation Society for 4 NYC zoos & aquarium

2- Theater Tickets – It’s not just a gift, it’s an outing.  Have a drama queen, a gleek or budding musical genuis in your midst? Have theater loving friends?  Take them to a show.  Many children’s theaters have subscription series so you can enjoy shows all year round.  Or make a special day of it and throw in dinner or lunch as well.

My faves: The New Victory Theater Subscription for kids and Roundabout Theater Subscription for adults

3 – Groceries – OK – that sounds weird right?  But who wouldn’t love their groceries covered at least once?  Takes a big bite out of the family budget so not having to worry about it for at least a week is a true gift.

My Fave: Fresh Direct - It’s not just groceries, it’s wine and prepared food too – delivered exactly when you want it to your door.

4- Design Your Own Sneakers – I almost didn’t put this in because it is my go to gift of the moment.  So, if you’re invited to the same parties as I am you are not allowed to give this – but if you don’t even know me you should jump on this!  Send a $75 e-gift certificate to the fashionista of your choice and they can go online to design their very own custom Converse sneaks from tongue to sole and everything in between.

Also Check OutNike for pricier but equally fab custom sneakers, especially for narrower feet.

5- Geek Out Your Tot – Kids love to hear the same books over and over and over again.  But parents, well sometimes reading The Night Before Christmas for the 1000th time can be a chore.  Fortunately you can let Meryl Streep do the reading for you.  Ruckus Media has created gorgeous storybook apps for the ipad and iphone like The Velveteen Rabbit and Tom Thumb that your child will pour over again and again – and you can read Us Weekly The New York Times in peace. (See the GIVEAWAY below!)

Also Check out: iKnowDogs – if your kid is a freaky dog lover like mine & iLive Animal World for animal loving little ones

6- Give for the Sake Of Giving – Find a charity and give in honor of someone.  Or better yet, let them decide and pick with you.  It’s a proactive easy way to embrace the meaning of the holidays.

My Faves: World Wildlife Fund – My girls love adopting an animal every year & Donors Choose – help schools, help kids.

7- Who Says School is Boring? – Have a friend or family member that’s dying to learn how to knit?  Or ice skate?  Or become the next Martha Stewart?  If you have an expertise you can share then offer up your services!  Or offer to pay for the class of their choice at a nearby gym, cooking school or community center.

My Faves: Institute of Culinary Education Recreational Cooking and Baking Classes & Rising Shutterbug private photography lessons for kids and adults to finally learn all the cool tricks your camera can do! (full disclosure – taught by my sister!)

Cranwell Resort

8-Leaving on a Jet Plane or a Car – Travel is something they never outgrow.  Give your miles or points to a family member or treat them to a trip (even to see you).  Or how about a weekend away for your grown kids with babysitting thrown in?  Just a thought.  hint, hint.

My Faves: Cranwell Resort & Spa in the Berkshires – a four season gorgeous escape with or without kids & Luxury Link so they can get away and get a great deal.

9 – Say OOHHMMM – This guide is all about no stress so why not give the least stressful gift around?  A SpaFinder gift certificate – emailed to their inbox of course.  They can pick a spa closest to them from 100s of choices.  And again, if you throw in some babysitting you eliminate half the stress before they walk out the door.

My Fave: Bliss Spa – They warm the massage tables and put paraffin booties on your feet.  Heaven.

10 – When All Else Fails - The Amazon electronic gift card.  It’s not original or sexy but it does the trick.  One click and boom!  it’s in their inbox ready to be spent.  What could be better than a shopping spree on somebody else’s dime?

And now the GIVEAWAY!

You can win 5 Gorgeous Ruckus Media storybook apps for iphone/ipad?  These are truly gorgeous apps that fully capture the beauty of classic stories with talent like Robin Williams and Meryl Street reading the texts.  Your child will love them!  Just leave a comment below telling me what your “Go To” gift of the moment is and be entered to win!

Want an extra entry?  Follow me on Twitter and let me know you did here.

Contest ends December 8th.

Good luck!  And check out my other giveaway for Petz Nursery 2 for DS