Parents Spending More on Back to School Shopping Thanks to Electronics

BY  |  Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

back to school shoppingDriven by increased demand for electronic items combined with the yearly restocking of school supplies, parents are spending slightly more on back to school shopping than last year, according to to the National Retail Federation Back to School Survey. 

The average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on clothing, shoes, supplies and electronics, up 5 percent from $634.78 last year. 

NRF this year broke down spending by grade, and according to the survey, families with high school students will spend the most. The survey found the average family shopping for high school students will spend $682.99, while spending on middle school/junior high comes in a close second at $682.13. Parents with elementary school-age children will spend an average of $580.94.

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Magnetic Paper Dolls Travel Toy

BY  |  Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Magnetic Paper Dolls Travel Toy

I love paper dolls. I have fond memories from my childhood cutting out paper dolls with tabs.  This modern version is much easier, is magnetic and is personalized — featuring you child.

This Magnetic Paper Dolls Travel Toy is perfect to bring on long summer car trips. I promise you your kids won’t ask, “Are we there yet?” Okay, maybe not as often…

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Ask Holly: Ooh-la-la Locker Decor

BY  |  Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Locker Decor

Yes. You are not losing your mind—I said locker decor. Decorating school lockers is now the “it” thing to do and if it hasn’t hit your household yet—just give it time—it will.  Just don’t shoot the messenger here, as I recently had a mother forbid me from writing about this subject while buying supplies.

The good news is I was able to fancy up my child’s locker for about $20 and we can use the same decor and or change it up a bit for next year by adding a new pattern of duct tape. Most of the cost was locker chandelier light I found at Staples for $12. Everything else was a $1 here and there. I have even figured out how to incorporate our miles of Rainbow Loom creations into the locker decorations into the locker business. Continue Reading

Ask Holly: Printable Screen-Free Activity Chart

BY  |  Thursday, Sep 12, 2013 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

screen free chartsopen final

When I drop the “Today is going to be a screen-free day” bomb on my kids, one would think I said, “Today you will be getting liver and onions for lunch and pressing license plates in lieu of video games after school.” They complain and whine at first—such a tough life my 1st world kids lead—but he reality is our screen-free days end up being the most happy, argument-free, tease-free, but-I -had-it-first-free days of all.

The problem? I had no system, so if I have to take care of work, dinner or whatever,  the BUT-THERE-IS-NOTHING-TO-DO-I’M-BORED bomb get dropped on me. So, like our routine charts, I created a Screen-Free Activity Chart. Because, let’s admit it,  most of the time we ain’t Mary Poppins and giving the command “Go play” only works  on TV shows.

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Ask Holly: Tips for a Great School Year

BY  |  Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Tips for a Great School Year

Seasoned parents know that no matter how organized you think you are your kid will come home begging for, or needing, something that you didn’t see coming.  That, or you’ll be blow-drying wet papers at the 11th hour because of a leaky water bottle, or turning your desk upside down searching for a field trip money envelope.

Over the school years, I compiled a list of random things (it’s always the random ones that knock you for a loop) to make life easier: quality and safe item picks for home and school, lunch packing tips and summer clean-up information. All things that I would have found helpful last September.

Here are my tips for a great school year:


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Ask Holly: New School Year, New Printable Morning/After School Routine Chart

BY  |  Thursday, Aug 29, 2013 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (4)


School starts soon and the parenting hat change countdown has begun. Soon I will have to switch the “Easy, breezy-sleep-in-blow-your-mind-out-with-screens” hat with the “Sergeant-major-drill-master-get-your-keister-out-of-bed” hat. Fortunately during the last two years, we have had great success with our Printable Morning/After School Routine Chart. It keeps the kids organized and responsible.

The rule is simple: Don’t ask Mom or Dad for something unless you have completed the things on your chart. As my children grow and change, so do our daily tasks. Each year I add more tasks to our charts.

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Camp Ask Holly Week Four: Rub-a-Dub-Dub—Water Fun with Kids and a Tub!

BY  |  Wednesday, Jul 24, 2013 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Water Fun

Two of my summer pet peeves that I can complain about from here to Montauk (driving on the L.I.E. brings out the worst in me) are:

  1. People who throw outdoor parties without a pool or beach during July and August.
  2. That nasty smell beach towels get went not dried properly. For real—that smell can stick up a whole load of laundry and no amount of regular washing can get it out.

Last weekend in this heat, I was the fool who threw that outdoor BBQ. The kids were too hot in the 90+ degree weather, so I went old school and tried out a water game my brother, my cousin David and I invented back in the day when my mother employed the old “in or out” rule. She wasn’t a fan of air conditioning the metro Detriot area, and we, being stupid kids, picked “out.”.

The water fun game is called  “TUB” because that’s what we called it as kids—simple and descriptive. I had kids playing this game for an hour, no amount of fancy backyard toys seem to stack up to this stupid old game.

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Ask Holly: Summer Sticker Chore Charts

BY  |  Wednesday, Jun 19, 2013 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Sticker Chore Charts

How do I motivate my children to finish chores, be rewarded for good behavior and be held accountable for the summer smack-down that goes on and off all summer? Sticker Chore Charts!

Tom Petty was Free Fallin’, Lynyrd Skynyrd had his Free Bird and Ricky Gervais  loved his Free Love Freeway but ’round these parts there ain’t nuthin’ for free. You want it—you earn it.  Or, I know a nice Amish family looking for an extra farm hand this summer. Your choice.

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Ask Holly: Tips for Hosting a Toast to the Teachers

BY  |  Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 11:30am  |  COMMENTS (6)

Toast to the Teachers

At the end of every school year the Montclair Fund for Excellence in Education (MFEE) asks parents to host Toast to the Teachers, a party of some sort, to honor and thank their child’s teacher(s). The host parent pays for and puts together the party, usually with some help from other parents, and the MFEE charges per guest. Usually this is $25 per adult for an adult only party or $20 per adult and $5 per child for family parties. Basically you host the party and the MFEE takes the cover charge. The parties all have different themes such as: kid-free cocktail parties, ice cream socials, pool parties, golf outings and backyard jam sessions…

Most people see this as a win/win situation. The teacher gets honored while the MFEE raises a nice amount of money that goes right back into the classrooms as teacher grants for educators all over the district.

Last Friday, I hosted my first Toast called “Martinis for May” for my son’s lovely  kindergarten teacher Ms. May.  We all whooped it up and had a great time. Here are some of my favorite tips for hosting a Toast and general etiquette for guests:

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Ask Holly: Creative End of the Year School Treats

BY  |  Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (1)

end of the year school treats

Rice Krispies Cupcakes

Last Friday, after receiving numerous emails about end of the year school treats for parties and asking for money for this or that, I composed my own blanket response:

I will be temporarily out of my mind and will have intermittent e-mail/ backpack access until June 28th. If you need immediate assistance with your request for money, volunteers, field day, treats or hosting end of the year/season (fill in the blank) party, please go to your nearest house of worship and pray, chant, do an interpretive dance or whatever. Thank you.

Of course my dream of really sending this email will be shattered the second my kids give me that sad face and say, “But MOMMMMMYYYYYYYY everyone is bringing treats in and you always make the best treats.” I hate myself for letting them brown-nose me.

If you have to send in treats for the class—make it easy, but fun.

Here are a couple creative end of the year school treats  and a fun decorative idea: Continue Reading

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