Holidays

This year, my hubby and I have the best gift we could possibly get for Mother’s or Father’s Day: Baby Juliza. Still, I’ll take any excuse I can get to make him feel extra special, because he really is an awesome dad. But what do you give a man who doesn’t really need anything, and whose wants are slightly out of budget? I mean, if anyone wants to get him a sports car, I’ll be happy to let you, but mama needed to be a little more thrifty.

When Walmart challenged me to do something special for Father’s Day under $25, I was genuinely stumped for a bit. Until I remembered how much my hubby loves to grill. It may sound like a cliche, but the man genuinely enjoys getting his barbecue on. And I’m happy to stand back and let him. He’s already a master in the kitchen, but he gets really inventive with the grill and turns out delicious meals. So if I’m honest, this gift is really for both of us.

I decided to make a barbecue-themed gift basket/bowl with stuff from Walmart. Here’s how you can do the same.

What I Used:

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The bowl should be big enough to contain marinated meat or ice so it can be used as a mini cooler. With this in mind, at the last minute I decided to grab his favorite beer, Heineken. What can I say? The man likes to enjoy a cold one while he’s outside grilling.

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If I’m honest, that final addition is probably the thing he’ll most appreciate about the whole package.

Once you’ve assembled everything, simply arrange it in the bowl and tie with a ribbon.

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This is the type of thoughtful gift I love. It’s fun and speaks to his interests, and it contains stuff he will actually use rather than items that will only hold his interest for a little bit and soon be forgotten. It’s a gift that will create memories for us.

Also, this pretty much guarantees that I don’t have to cook next Sunday. Mommy FTW.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

My family and I usually spend Memorial Day weekend at Atlanta’s Caribbean Carnival, but with several family members who have served or are serving our country, we are well aware of the other implications of the holiday. So when Walmart challenged me to share a craft project for Memorial Day, I wanted to come up with something that would allow me to show my patriotic spirit, no matter how I choose to celebrate.

With that in mind, I decided to create a flag case for my iPhone.

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You’ll Need:

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The idea is to create red and white stripes on the bottom of the case. This is easiest to do when you start with a white case, since there’s no such thing as a white sharpie (though paint would do the trick). The surface of the case needs to be semi-porous, or the Sharpie won’t be absorbed. You should be able to tell by feeling the surface. If it’s hard plastic, it won’t be absorbent. If it has a slightly textured finish a bit like silicone, it is likely porous.

Use the ruler to find the vertical center of the case. Make a small pencil mark along one edge at that point. Then make similar marks at 1/4″ intervals. Do the same along the other edge.

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Using your ruler, lightly connect the pencil marks on both edges. You’ll wind up with a series of pencil lines. Be sure not to make the lines too dark, or they could show later.

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Use the Sharpie to fill alternating stripes with red. You can use a ruler or straight edge of some sort to keep the lines straight, but beware that the Sharpie will bleed. I had better results just drawing over the pencil lines freehand.

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Next, color the entire top half of the case with the blue Sharpie, and allow the marker coloring to dry and set for at least 2 hours.

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You’ll be using the rhinestones to create a star in the center of the blue. I simply printed out a star graphic found on Google so I could decide how to lay the stones.

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Once I had the pattern set, I transferred it onto the case. I had planned to use hot glue to attach the rhinestones, but I thought KrazyGlue would be more secure. Of course, you have to be super careful with it because it bonds instantly, even when it gets on your skin. You also won’t have a lot of wiggle room to move around the stones, but it’s less likely they’ll ever come off.

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Allow the glue to dry for about a half hour.

Finally, cover the entire case with a couple of light coats of ModPodge. I learned the hard way that I didn’t let the Sharpie dry long enough when the blue started to streak in the ModPodge, as you can see in the photo below. I caught it before I got too far, so you just want to make sure the Sharpie is fully dry before you get to this step.

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ModPodge recommends allowing each coat to dry for about 20 minutes before adding another. I left it alone for 30 minutes just to be sure, and I did 3 light coats.

Allow the finished case to dry for a few hours before you attempt to put your phone in it.

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Now, I have a fancy case that will show my patriotism on Memorial Day and every day, if I choose.

DISCLOSURE: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links.

Mother’s Day is one of those special holidays when you want to give your mom the world. After all, she brought you into it (and has probably reminded you a few times that she could also “take you out of it!”). Flowers and candy are great, but if you’re like me, you probably want to give a gift with a little more meaning.

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If there’s one store that specializes in gifts with meaning, it’s Uncommon Goods. Every product has a story, whether it’s handmade, made from recycled materials, or just thoughtfully designed to fill a gap that you never realized needed to be filled.

If the mama on your list also happens to be your favorite style maven, finding a great gift can be even more challenging. Here are five gifts the stylish mama on your list will love:

Books for Mom, by You

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How often do you tell your mom you love her? Well, these books give you an easy way to show her, and be specific about why. The What I Love About Mom book offers pages of prompts for you to complete. Warning: This one may induce tears when she realizes that that you really do love her taste in clothes, and that her encouragement to follow your dreams meant so much to you. For younger kids, the Dear Mom arts & crafts book is full of activities to complete that will make mom smile. For example, what do you think a better name for mom would be? Maybe “Queen for a Day?” Write it down! The illustrated book includes 48 pages of writing and drawing prompts, and even things to cut out.

Price: What I Love About Mom: $10; Dear Mom Arts & Crafts Book, $9 (aff)

Something Shiny for Her Wrist

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What mama doesn’t love to receive jewelry? This fabulous brass cuff is inspired by nature and designed to be reminiscent of a birch tree with lovers’ initials carved into it. You can honor both parents with this gift, or you could personalize it with moms initials and yours. Or if you’d like, you can get the cuff without the initials — just the heart cutout. Either way, she’ll appreciate the sentiment and wear it with pride.

Price w/personalization: $100; Price without personalization: $85 (aff)

Celebrate Her Flock

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Again with the jewelry? Yeah. Well, I doubt there’s any mom in the world who would mind constant reminder of her children she loves so dearly. Whether you opt for the locket or the bracelet, this locket made of sterling silver will make her day. Inside, on nests of copper, she will find up to four Peruvian opal “eggs” symbolizing her children. Way to make mom tear up on Mother’s Day!

Price: Nest Egg Necklace, $68-74; Bracelet: $68-74 (aff)

Something to Hold Her Pretties

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Now that you’ve given her some new baubles, she needs a place to store them, right? This particular box is something special. It’s made of recycled bangles, but not just any recycled bangles. These have a special meaning for Indian women: Married women wear beaded bangles symbolize the bonds of love and marriage. When they break, they usually end up in the landfill, but a group of fair-trade artisans recovers them to handcraft these boxes.

Price: $48 (aff)

A New Purse. Because Purses.

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If there’s one thing in my closet with which I personally have an unnatural obsession, it is purses. I love them. In all shapes, sizes and colors. I get this love of handbags from my mom. Which means that no matter the purse, as long as it’s pretty, she’ll love it. Well, this one is better than pretty. It’s sustainable, too. It looks like it’s made a croc skin, but that wouldn’t be very green, would it? Instead, it’s actually handmade in the U.S. of sustainably harvested cork, which is then pressed into this fancy pattern. That’s what I’m talking about. And while you’re at it, give her the matching wallet.

Price: $60 (aff)

What unique gifts are you planning to give the moms on your list for Mother’s Day? You can find many more ideas at Uncommon Goods.

Disclosure: I have received compensation for sharing these gift ideas with you. However, as usual, all opinions are my own and 100% authentic.

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As much as I love Easter and crafting, I’ve never really gotten into decorating eggs. Honestly, it’s just a lot of work. There was that one time a few years back when we dyed our eggs naturally, using food. Yes, food. Think beets, cabbage, onions, etc. That was fun, but it took forever! There was a lot of boiling and wrapping and waiting, and overall, it required a lot of effort. Given that noone ate the eggs and we wound up throwing them away, it was sort of wasted effort.

So as you can imagine, when Walmart challenged me to try a new product that would change all that, I jumped at the chance. Introducing: dyeable plastic eggs.

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You read that right. These eggs are made of plastic, but the surface feels really similar to the shell of a real hard-boiled egg. As a result, they can be colored using the same types of dye and kits you’d use for real eggs. And there’s no boiling. Score!

Except this year, I didn’t want to do springy colors or traditional dyeing. I wanted bold, graphic gold eggs. So in addition to the eggs, all I needed was one thing: Gold Sharpies.

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You’ll notice there’s also paint in that photo. I’ll get to that later.

These eggs take to drawing like a dream, and unlike paint and dye, Sharpie sketches dry really quickly. My daughter and I simply freehanded some designs, including:

Polka Dots & Stripes

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Stars & Swirls

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Scales & Hearts

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Flowers & a “Cracked” Egg

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Really, we just moved from egg to egg doing whatever came to mind. Easy, creative and fun!

But you’ll remember that photo with the Sharpies also includes gold craft paint. Well, we had planned to dip the ends of some of the eggs into gold paint for a gorgeous, minimal look. Thing is, that didn’t work out so well.

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The paint was heavy and drippy, and not in a cool artsy way that we could play off as intentional. That made it difficult to set them down to dry, so we wound up with paint spots we didn’t intend.

Still, with just the Sharpies, our imaginations and minimal time, my daughter and I created a beautiful basketful of gold eggs that we can set aside to use again next year. 

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I really can’t imagine an easier way to decorate Easter eggs — hence the name of this post. You can use sharpies in any color you want, including traditional Easter pastels. If you know anything about my taste, you’ll know I rarely go for traditional :)

Looking for more Easter ideas?

DISCLOSURE: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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What We’re Wearing: Ja’Naya — George Chiffon Dress and Legging Set, $13.97 (aff); Juliza — Child of Mine by Carters Baby Dress Set, $7.94; Me — George Lace Dress, $15.44 and $2.88 Head Wrap (aff)

I can fully admit that I love having two little girls. Nothing against my boys, but I love getting dressed up, and I’m thankful that my oldest daughter does too. The baby doesn’t have a choice yet :) And if there’s one occasion that’s always an excuse to get dressed up, it’s Easter. So when Walmart challenged me to dress my family for Easter for less than $40, I was only too happy to oblige.

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For most people, this occasion marks the return to warm weather and is a celebration of spring and newness. In terms of fashion, it usually marks a return to color. As you can see, we had no problem going bright and cheery.

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There were a lot of great girls’ dresses and outfits to choose from, but this chiffon set was one of the first things we spotted. I initially wasn’t sure about it, but once my daughter tried it on, we both knew it was the winner. The dress is long enough to be worn on its own with tights, or even bare-legged with shorts underneath. But the floral leggings add some definite punch and make the outfit a bit more casual, which means she’ll be able to wear it again after Easter since it’s not super dressy.

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Baby Juliza obviously has the cuteness factor going for her, no matter what she wears. But when at Walmart, I always shop for pieces from Child of Mine by Carters. The cotton is super soft, unlike some other baby brands, and the patterns are usually fun and colorful. To coordinate with her big sister, we grabbed a yellow patterned dress and leggings set. I actually went a size up, so it is a little big, but it will fit her throughout the summer. We plan to get a lot of wear out of this less than $8 outfit.

You were probably expecting a flouncy princess dress for the baby. We thought about that, but that type of dress actually starts at 12 months in sizing. The infant outfits are a lot tamer :)

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As for mama, it wasn’t too tough to find an outfit to coordinate with my girls. The lace dress I chose was actually available in 4 different colors in store, and 5 online. The weight of the dress is really nice, and because the lace is attached to the lining material, it’s not likely to get caught on anything and rip. My biggest challenge is that I can’t nurse efficiently in this dress, since there’s no front access, but I will definitely keep it in my closet for when I’m done breastfeeding.

I also grabbed a bright headwrap that can be worn half-a-dozen different ways for less than $3. So for a few bucks over $40 (after tax), my girls and I are ready for Easter fun.

What about you? Does your family dress up for Easter?

DISCLOSURE: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I’ll admit: When I was growing up, we didn’t make a very big deal of St. Patrick’s Day. We’d make jokes about leprechauns and pots of gold, but that was about it. So when Walmart challenged me to share a themed craft project for the holiday, I admit I was stumped at first. But having a cute, rolly polly baby around always makes it easier to come up with project ideas. And I know this: Thanks to just a few supplies from Walmart, she’ll be — hands down — the cutest baby on the block come March 17.

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Wanna make your baby cute(r) too? I thought you might :)

Shamrock Headband Tutorial

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You’ll need:

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Finding four-leaf clovers was one of the few things I did like to do for St. Patrick’s Day as a kid, and I’d walk around feeling like I won the luck lottery. So I figured I’ll make it easy for Juliza to find a lucky shamrock: I’ll just put it on her head :)

This project is pretty simple. You’ll need to cut out four shapes from your green felt, like so:

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I cut them freehand, but here’s a handy JPG template, if you think you’ll need one.

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Just save it on your computer, print it out, cut it out from paper, and use it as a pattern to cut the felt. Feel free to resize it as necessary, as it will probably print pretty large. These will become the petals of the shamrock.

You’ll need to thread the four petals together, leaving a few inches of string at either end. Be sure to thread them so that they will gather.

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Cut the string to remove the needle, and simply pull the two ends of the string together. The petals will gather and create an awesome clover. Tie the ends together to secure them.

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Finally, use your needle and thread to attach the shamrock to your headband. I considered using hot glue (as indicated by the supply photo above), but thought better of it, since hot glue and a stretchy headband don’t seem very compatible.

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Anyway, that’s it! Now for the icing on the green cake: The baby tutu.

St. Patrick’s Day Tutu-torial

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You’ll Need:

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  • Green ribbon
  • Rolls of green and white tulle
  • Scissors

Tutu making is really easy, but it can be a bit time consuming. Making one for a baby with a relatively small waist cuts the time requirement back considerably.

First, you’ll need to measure your child’s waist. Measure a 20″ length of ribbon, but do not cut it off. Tie a knot at the 20″ mark. Measure from that knot around your child’s waist. Make another knot at the proper length. Finally, add another 20″ inches to the other end, and cut the ribbon from the roll.

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You’ll be tying the tulle between the two knots signifying the size of your child’s waist.

You can buy yard of tulle to make this, but I find it easier to use premade rolls. The length of tulle you cut will depend on the size of the child. My baby is 2 months old, so I didn’t need the tutu to be very long at all. I cut a few dozen 12″ lengths of tulle — both green and white.

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To create the tutu, you’ll tie these pieces of tulle to the ribbon. Bunch one 12″ piece of tulle in your hands, and fold it in half. Put your finger through the loop created at the fold. Lay the folded end under the ribbon.

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Fold the ends over the front of the ribbon and pull them through the loop. Pull the tulle as tight as you can, and push it to the knot at one end of the ribbon.

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You can alternate colors as you wish. The white tulle I chose had glitter embedded in it, and I didn’t want a lot of glitter all over baby. So I used one piece of white tulle for every three pieces of green.

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Then do this a couple dozen more times until you’ve covered the entire length of ribbon between the two knots. The result is pretty cool looking, if I do say so myself :)

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Paired with a white onesie and some leggings, the headband and tutu give my baby the perfect outfit to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day.

DISCLOSURE: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

OK. So I admit that the headline of the post is a bit…umm…confusing. But this year for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to give my daughter something more than yet another stuffed animal or heart-emblazoned t-shirt. So when Walmart challenged me to shop for Valentine’s gifts, I in turn challenged myself to find something a little bit unconventional.

I have to say, the selection of Valentine’s themed gifts was impressive. A full four aisles worth, with additional choices sprinkled throughout the appropriate sections of the store. In fact, in addition to finding an awesome gift for my daughter, I took a moment to buy Valentine’s cards and treats for her classmates and teacher.

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Because as much as I loved the DIY scratch-off Valentine’s cards we made together last year, this mama of a newborn just doesn’t have the time or the energy to make something elaborate for her classmates this year. So I grabbed a cute mailbox for just $3.47, complete with 36 cards, along with a gift pack of Skittles, because for kids, the best part of exchanging Valentine’s cards at school is the treats that come with them.

But back to my unconventional idea. Technically, it was my husband’s unconventional idea, but who’s counting, right? He happened to be walking by the pet supply section and noticed the fish bowls and supplies. Aha moment! We could give her a fish for Valentine’s Day!

With Juliza now firmly settled in all our hearts, Ja’Naya is embracing her role as big sister. She has more tangible responsibility now, and anything we can do to encourage that spirit is a good thing, right?

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Our Walmart doesn’t sell fish, but they do carry fish bowls, tanks and accessories. We grabbed a cool LED-lit fish bowl for less than $12 and some multi-colored jewels to fancy up the bottom of the bowl. (aff)

We went to a local pet store to find an inhabitant for the bowl: a blue Betta fish that my daughter has since dubbed — what else — Boy Blue.

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And just so you know — it is deceptively difficult to take a good photo of a moving fish in a bowl.

Anyway, because this mama is a sentimental type (who also has a sweet tooth), I decided to pair this gift with something we both love: Lindt Lindor chocolate truffles. (aff)

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These things are like little balls of magic and we could both eat them all day. For $4.98/bag, we have no excuse not to enjoy them.

So this Valentine’s Day, my daughter will have a new sister and a new fish to love on and take care of, and we can enjoy a sweet treat together.

What unconventional gift ideas have you considered for your Valentine?

DISCLOSURE: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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When I was growing up, our holiday season lasted from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the New Year and beyond. Why? Because I grew up celebrating Three Kings Day, the day the three wise men were said to have arrived in Bethlehem to deliver their gifts to baby Jesus.

Three Kings is celebrated on January 6, so unlike a lot of families that would remove their decorations and take down their trees in the days following Christmas, we kept ours up well into the new year to continue our celebration. When Walmart challenged me to share a Three Kings Day tradition, I immediately knew what I wanted to share.

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Along with the specific Three Kings Day recipes that my mother loved to prepare, the tradition I best remember is that my sisters and I made “grass boxes” to put under our beds. Let me explain:

The three wise men were traveling on camels. Presumably, after their long journey following the North Star, the camels would’ve been hungry upon arrival. Each of us would put a shoe box or other small box under our bed filled with grass for the camels to eat. In return, the three kings would leave a small gift or two in return.

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I grew up in a place with essentially one season all year long: Summer. This means that even in December, we could go outside and pull real, growing green grass to put in our boxes. Never mind the fact that the camels were more likely to be eating hay. We were kids and we used grass.

Now that I live in the states with four distinct seasons, where grass dies in the winter, I had to improvise to continue the tradition for my daughter. Instead of real grass, we grabbed some green printer paper for just under $3 at Walmart. We ran it through the shredder and voila!  “Grass” for the camels.

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And though my sisters and I used shoe boxes when we were growing up, I thought it would be cool to have dedicated box that my daughter could use for Three Kings Day every year, instead of having to find a new one. Thanks to Walmart‘s after-Christmas sale, we scored a pretty, glittery gift box for just $1.

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My daughter stuffed the box with the grass and put it under her bed. The next step will be to replace the grass with a small gift on Three Kings Day. Instead of a new, extravagant gift, I decided to give my daughter add-ons for things she already has: a dart refill pack for the Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow she received for Christmas and a cute new cover for her cell phone. (aff)

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I’m so happy to be able to share this tradition with my kids, along with the story of Jesus’ birth and the role the three wise men played in it.

Do you celebrate Three Kings Day with your family? What traditions do you use to observe it?

DISCLOSURE: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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