It’s not about the Benjamin’s, baby.

Although giving a gift is a showing of affection and appreciation, there is a certain etiquette that should be followed. It can be tricky to figure out what is appropriate to give (ie the difference between your sister and your boss). Thankfully, Lauren Conrad posted an article on her blog that lays out the rules for appropriate gift giving, Ladylike Laws: Holiday Gift Giving Etiquette.

Her “rules” don’t come off as domineering, but more as helpful tips to ease the stress of certain situations. My favorite: don’t worry about giving something that has the same monetary value of what they gave you. Instead, figure out something nice that you can afford within your means. I know this comes off as a duh tip, but it never fails, each year I tend to stress about what to give certain people who I know always spend a lot of money on me. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone is in a different financial situation and doesn’t always have the same holiday budget. If you give something nice and sentimental, it will show you are being thoughtful and showing appreciation, without putting yourself into debt.

I used to always stress about what to give my Mother-In-Law every Christmas. She always showers us with amazing expensive gifts (Juicy Couture anyone?) and I always felt a pang of guilt for not giving something monetarily equivalent. But then I realized, she’s giving these awesome gifts not because she has to and not because she can, but it’s because she loves us more than anything. This realization was what got me started in DIY gift giving. Her love for my husband, daughter and I is what she cares most about. So I started making her sentimental gifts related to our family. This handprint keepsake was my inspiration for one of our gifts last year. I used my husband’s and daughter’s handprint, had them both sign the bottom, and put it in a nice frame (from Hobby Lobby when it was 50% off *wink*). She loved it! How do I know? Because she is an amazing decorator and only has extremely nice high end things displayed. Where is this handprint keepsake? In the middle of her fireplace mantel, only the most eye drawing place in the living room. Score!

It’s not about how much you spend, but how much you show you care. This Christmas, we are going to make a 49 Reasons Why I Love You card display. Each card will have a different reason of love and it will be filled with quotes from me, my husband, and my daughter. She inspires each of us in different ways, and I’m excited to put all our loving thoughts into this one.

49 reasons

She’s probably going to cry, maybe I should gift some tissues too! What sentimental gift have you made for your loved ones?

Cook with your children

With Thanksgiving coming up, I’m reminded of all the family time that is about to be spent in the kitchen. It got me thinking… how important is it to cook with your kids? I try to let my daughter help out in the kitchen whenever she shows interest, but it can be frustrating when I’m time crunched or attempting something new.

According to webmd.com, cooking with your children has a lot of benefits, like getting them interested in trying healthy foods they normally wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. My daughter used to eat anything and everything in sight, now that she is four, she has become more picky. I’m sure a lot of parents can relate… she would eat mac and cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if we let her. So I’m all for her trying and eating healthy foods, and it makes sense, if she’s a part of what she puts on her plate, she will feel like she had a say in the meal, even if she didn’t. According to the article, there are a lot of other benefits cooking with your children can have:

Some  short-term benefits:

  • Kids feel like they are accomplishing something and contributing to the family.
  • Kids are more likely to sit down to a family meal when they helped prepare it.
  • Parents get to spend quality time with their kids.
  • Kids aren’t spending time in front of the TV or computer while they’re cooking.
  • Kids generally aren’t eating junk food when they’re cooking a meal at home.

Some long-term benefits:

  • Learning to cook is a skill your children can use for the rest of their lives.
  • Kids who learn to eat well may be more likely to eat healthfully as adults.
  • Positive cooking experiences can help build self-confidence.
  • Kids who cook with their parents may even be less likely to abuse drugs.

Wow. It really makes me step back and realize I need to make time, have patience, and encourage her to help with family meals. The author of the site Cooking With My Kid, set a mission in 2009, make 365 recipes in 365 days all with kid-assistance. This challenge has changed the way they eat, cured pickiness, and created a special bonding experience. Check out her blog where she posts recipes, how to videos, picky busters, and super cute photos of her kids making some mouth watering meals as a family.

All this talk about family in the kitchen reminds me of the perfect Take This Make This gift tutorial. Framed family recipes. So sweet and beautiful!