Westchester County Experience Gift Ideas

It’s that time of year again, where we start making our lists of everyone we need to buy presents before. Before you run out and buy more “stuff” think about giving an experience gift this year. There are plenty of fun things to do in and around Westchester County. Check out some of these experience gift ideas! Below are links to past posts that offer a comprehensive list of Westchester County experience gift ideas! Even though some of the posts are a few years old, the ideas are still relevant. Only the prices may have changed. Please check websites for the current pricing. If you know of any experience gift ideas that we have not included, please let us know!

Holiday Gift Ideas for Westchester County Families (2016)

Holiday Gift Ideas for Westchester County Families (2017)

Experience Gift Ideas for Westchester County Families (2018)

Advent Calendars for Everyone in the Family!

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The day after Halloween seems to unofficially begin the start of the holiday season. While that may be a little early for us, there is something special about the December holidays. Advent calendars are a fun way to count the days until Christmas. Although you don’t start opening Advent calendars until December 1st, now is a great time to start shopping for them. We have rounded up Advent calendars for everyone in your family to help you enjoy counting down the days until Christmas!

Toy Advent Calendars for Kids

L.O.L Surprise OOTD Winter Disco – This set contains one L.O.L. doll with 24 fashion pieces including outfits, shoes and accessories. There’s also a regular L.O.L. Surprise OOTD set.

Paw Patrol Advent Calendar – This calendar contains 24 presents including collectible figures, a sleigh, snowman and more.

Disney Tsum Tsum Advent Calendar – Tsum Tsum fans will love this Disney advent calendar. It includes 18 tsum tsum figures, 6 large, 6 medium and 6 small. It also comes with 6 holiday themed accessories.

Hot Wheels Advent Calendar – The Hot Wheels advent calendar includes eight decorated Hot Wheels vehicles and sixteen accessories.

Hatchimals ColleGGtible Calendar – This advent calendar comes with 50 + surprises including paper craft decorations, small presents and stickers. The calendar box also doubles as a winter backdrop.

Thomas & Friends Fisher Price Minis – This calendar comes with 24 MINIS engines, including 6 special edition Christmas-themed designed MINIS.

Advent Calendars for Pop Culture Fans

Funko Pop Harry Potter – This calendar contains 24 mini Harry Potter figures. The box then folds out as a playset for the figures.

Funko Pop Marvel – This calendar contains 24 mini Marvel figures including both villains and heroes.

Lego Star Wars – The Lego Star Wars calendar comes with 24 figures or Lego also has a a Lego City and Lego Harry Potter advent calendar for 2019 as well.

Haribo – Maybe stretching this in the Pop Culture category, but Haribo gummies are super popular. This calendar comes with 24 individually wrapped gummy candies in a mixture of fruit and cola flavors, marshmallow, licorice and gums.

Super Mario Brothers – This calendar has 24 days of surprises. Each numbered door has either a figure or accessory behind it.

Funko Pop Fortnite – This calendar has 24, 1.5 inch Fortnite figures.

Advent Calendars for Foodies

Bonne Maman – We love Bonne Maman! This calendar has 24 1 oz. jars of fruit spreads and honey. This set includes holiday exclusive flavors like rhubarb & strawberry, purple fig with cinnamon and more. This set is sold out on their site, but is currently available at World Market.

Jerky Advent Calendar – This calendar includes 12 days of jerky. There are a variety of different brands and types of jerky, which totals to almost 2 pounds worth.

David’s Tea – This David’s Tea calendar has 2 servings of tea per day and includes 24 loose leaf teas like Candy Cane Crush, Gingerbread, Let It Snow and more. There are many other tea advent calendars available

Joe & Sephs Popcorn – This popcorn calendar has 24 days of snack size popcorn. There are 12 unique flavors, including Strawberries and Cream, Chocolate Orange and Banoffee Pie, so there must be two of each flavor. However, the popcorn ships from England.

BYOB Hot Sauce – This set contains 25, 2 oz. Christmas-themed hot sauces. Each has a different Christmas label and are made from peppers including Scorpion, Ghost Pepper, Banana, Habanero and more. Perfect for the hot sauce lovers in your life!

YAWN Coffee – This YAWN coffee advent calendar has 24 sachets of specialty coffee and comes in either ground or whole bean. This is the only 24 day coffee advent calendar. Unfortunately, the company is based out of and ships from England. However, there are many 12 Days of Christmas coffee sets including this Christmas Sampler, this K-cup Christmas sampler and more.

Makeup and Beauty Advent Calendars

Body Shop Dream Big This Christmas Beauty Advent Calendar – This calendar includes 24 bath and beauty products from the Body Shop. Priced at $70, it has a $120 value. They also have a Deluxe ($110) and Ultimate ($170) set as well.

OPI Hello Kitty – This set contains 25, 3.75 ml mini nail polishes in colors like All About the Bows, Hello Pretty and more.

Target 12 Days of Beauty Box – This box contains 12 sample sized beauty and personal care items.

Sephora Frosted Party Advent Calendar – This set contains a combination of 24 beauty, skincare, body and accessories products, 11 of which are limited-edition.

NYX Sugar Trip – This Advent calendar comes with *** NYX also has a Love Lust Disco Greatest Hits Lip Advent Calendar as well.

Macy’s 25 Days of Beauty – This calendar has 25 beauty products including masks, makeup, creams and more from brands like Clinique, Origins and Sunday Riley.

Alcohol Themed Calendars

Hard Seltzer Advent Calendar – This calendar contains 12 curated hard seltzers from brands like Truly, White Claw, Henry’s and small-batch hard seltzer brands.

Aldi Wine Calendar – This calendar contains 24, 187 mL bottles of wine. The wines come from all over the world (Italy, France, South Africa, USA, Chile, Argentia and more) and include a variety of red and white wines. They are only being sold in store though and customers are limited to 2.

Heritage Distilling Spirits Calendar – This calendar has 24, 50 mL bottles of spirits. It includes vodka, bourbon, gin, rye and whiskey. Due to shipping restrictions, this calendar can only be shipped to a few select states.

Beer Advent Calendar – This calendar contains 12 top rated craft beers.

Other Fun Advent Calendars

Bic Advent Calendar – For the stationary lovers, the Bic Advent Calendar comes with 24 writing products, including pens, pencils and more.

Mr. Holmes’ Advent Calendar: 24 Solve-it-Yourself Christmas Crimes

Hasbro Classic Games Twelve Days of Socks – Fans of Nickelodeon will love getting socks with SpongeBob, CatDog, Rugrats and more. If Nickelodeon isn’t their thing, there are many other Twelve Day of Socks sets including Marvel, The Office and more.

Bark the Halls with 24 Days of Cookies – Don’t forget about your pets! This calendar comes with 24 cookies for your dog. Trader Joe’s also has a dog and cat treat calendar this year.

Voluspa 12 Days of Gifting Candle Set – This 12 scented votive candles set includes scents like Prosecco Rose and Violet & Honey. The candles are made from coconut wax and come in pretty glass votives. Each candle has a 15 hour burn time.

Kurt Adler Wooden Snowman Advent Calendar – This is a reusable wooden advent calendar from Kurt Adler. Each day open a drawer and take out a mini ornament and hang it on the tree.


Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Tween Girls

Check out this gift guide for ideas of stocking stuffers for tween girls.

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Last week I posted some stocking stuffer ideas for tween boys.  Today I’m sharing some stocking stuffer ideas for tween girls.  I find there are many small items, perfect for this age group, that can easily fill a stocking.  Here are a few ideas that my eleven-year-old daughter has enjoyed in the past, or would like this year!


Candy and gum is always a hit with this age group.  Stock up on her favorites so she can share with her friends!


Girls are always in need of hair accessories and they make great stocking stuffers for tween girls.

Hair Accessories – My daughter has long hair and enjoys wearing braids and pony tails.  She is always in need of hair ties.  We found this set at Justice that includes matching colored bobby pins. Claire’s and other accessory stores sell all kinds of fun hair accessories too.

Jewelry – Jewelry is always a great idea for tweens and I don’t think you can ever go wrong with earrings (if her ears are pierced), necklaces or rings.

My daughter loves the variety of lip smacker flavors available. These are a great stocking stuffer idea for a tween girl.

Lip Balm/Chapstick –  As much as my daughter would like to wear makeup, I think that she’s too young.  Since she can’t wear lipstick she loves lip balm. Her current faves include Lipsmackers and eos. They come in a variety of flavors and shades.

A tween girl can never have too many bottles of nail polish! They make a great stocking stuffer for a tween girl.

Nail Polish – Just as with lip balm, a tween girl can never have too much nail polish!  Tweens love fun colors and designs. Nail files also make great stocking stuffers.

Portable Power Bank – 
Although my tween doesn’t have a cell phone, she does enjoy using her Ipod….A LOT.  It’s always in need of charging and with a power bank she can charge it while out.

School Supplies – Even though school started several months ago, kids are always in need of pencils, pens and other school supplies.  Holidays are a great time to replenish their pens, pencils, post-its and more. She will love it if you get fun, designed supplies.


Bath Bombs – Tween girls are obsessed with bath bombs!  This bath fizzers look like a lot of fun.  As it dissolves the user will find a small surprise inside.  It could be a small toy, a key chain, charm or more.

Phone/Ipod cases – This is another item that girls never seem to have enough of.  My daughter is always changing out her Ipod case.  There are so many fun cases with quotes, designs and characters. Unicorns are big right now and my daughter would love this case.

Slime – Slime is still a hit with the tween girls.  They especially enjoy making it and I know my daughter will love this Galaxy Slime starter kit.

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Soft’n Slo Squishies – My daughter and her middle school friends are obsessed with Squishies.  Made by Orb Toys, these are squeeze toys that rise back to their original shape, very slowly.  They are stress relief toys for kids!   They come in a variety of collectible shapes and sizes.  The newest Squishies are Costume Cutiez, that come with swappable costumes.

What are you putting in your tween daughter’s stocking?  


25 Children’s Christmas Books

Get in the holiday spirit by reading some of these 25 children's Christmas books!

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Last year, I posted a Christmas book daily for “25 Days of Christmas Books.”  This year, I decided to combine all of the children’s books into one post for a more useful resource.  Click on the link to go to the full review. I also added some new, recently published books to the collection.  Hopefully, this will help you add to your Christmas book collection or give you some new holiday reads to pick up at the library!


1. Clark the Shark Loves Christmas


2. The 12 Sleighs of Christmas by Sherri Dusky Rinker
Illustrated by:  Jake Parker
Published by: Chronicle Books, October 2017
Pages: 40
Price: $16.99

From Chronicle Books:  Which elf will build the coolest sleigh for the Christmas ride? SANTA will decide! 
When the elves discover that Santa’s sleigh is in a terrible state, they let their imaginations go wild—and soon there are sleighs of every kind, inspired by big rigs, motorcycles, zeppelins, and much more! The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and the celebrated illustrator of Michael Chabon’s The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man team up for spirited vehicular silliness and classic Christmas cheer in this turbo-charged read-aloud destined to become a holiday classic.

Review:  This book told in rhyme, has bright, colorful pictures.  Children will enjoy seeing all of the different sleigh designs that the elves come up with.  This is a fun holiday read that will entertain young readers.

3. The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold

4. Santa’s Underwear

5. Candy Cane Lane


6. The Christmas Boot

7. Gingerbread Christmas


8. Don’t Push the Button!  A Christmas Adventure by Bill Cotter
Published by: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, October 2017
Pages: 22
Price:  $8.99

Review:  This board book is a companion to Cotter’s previous book, Don’t Push the Button!  This is a fun,  interactive book, with a Christmas twist.  Children will be pushing the button, shaking the book and more.


9. Fly Guy’s Ninja Christmas


10. Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree


11. Babushka:  A Christmas Tale

Product Details

12. The Doll People’s Christmas

13. A Boy Called Christmas


14. The Christmas Eve Tree

15. The Great Spruce

16. Giselle The Christmas Ballet Fairy


17. How to Catch an Elf


18. What I Love About Christmas

Product Details
19. Only You Can Save Christmas:  A Help-the-Elf Adventure by Adam Wallace
Illustrated by: Garth Bruner
Published by: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, October 2017
Pages: 40
Price: $16.99

Review: It’s Christmas Eve when elf discovers that Santa doesn’t have a present for Mrs. Claus.  He finds a list on Santa’s desk and needs the reader’s help in collecting everything on it.  This book takes a humorous and modern approach to the classic Twelve Days of Christmas.  It’s a fun, new holiday read.


20. Pig the Elf by Aaron Blabey
Published by:  Scholastic, September 2017
Pages: 32
Price: $14.99

Review: This is the fourth book in the Pig the Pug series.  Pig is a bit greedy when writing his Christmas list.  He stays up waiting for Santa’s arrival.  Unhappy with the amount of presents he receives, Pig shows his displeasure by biting Santa.  While this book touches upon holiday greed, Pig doesn’t really learn a true lesson.  If your child is a fan of Pig the Pug they will enjoy this book.  Otherwise, there are better holiday reads out there.


21.  Young Scrooge


22. The Lost Gift

23. The Little Reindeer by Nicola Killen
Published by:  Paula Wiseman Books (Simon Schuster), September 2017
Pages: 32
Price: $15.99

Review: A little girl befriends a lost reindeer on Christmas eve.  The two go off on a magical adventure, but the reindeer must return to Santa.  The illustrations are in black and white with pops of bright red color and cutouts on several of the pages. This is a sweet, enchanting Christmas story.


24. The ABC’s of Christmas


25. The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present

For more Christmas books, check out the 2015 Christmas Picture Books collection.

2015 Christmas Picture Books

Christmas Picture Books 2015

Every year dozens of Christmas-themed pictured books are published.  Fortunately, this year, we have been able to read several of these books.  Here is a summary of the most recently published Christmas books that we have read.  There is almost two weeks until Christmas, which leaves plenty of reading time!  You can find most of these books at Barnes & Noble, your local bookstore or the library!

All books are linked to Goodreads.


The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Christmas in New York City! by Lisa Manzione – Bella and Harry are Chihuahuas who are visiting New York City with their human family.  The two wander the streets of New York City taking in all the sights at Christmas time.  Since we live close to New York City we are very familiar with all of the places mentioned in the book.  The book aims to be educational, but it seemed very forced to us.  I didn’t realize that there’s a whole series of Bella and Harry books that describe their different travels around the world.  I’m not so sure that we’re interested in checking out these other books.


The Best Parts of Christmas by Bethanie Denney Murguia – For Fritz, the best part of Christmas is the tree.  From picking out the perfect tree, decorating it and opening presents by it, Fritz loves his tree.  So he is sad when Christmas is over and he needs to say goodbye to his tree.  But, he comes up with a solution that makes him happy.   This is a short, simple story.


Cork & Fuzz: Merry Merry Holly Holly by Dori Chaconas – This was our first Cork & Fuzz book, but it appears that there is a series of books by Chaconas that feature the duo.  Cork, the muskrat and Fuzz, the possum search for a good thinking tree.  Cork knows that today is special but can’t remember why.  If only he could find a “piece of quiet.”  With Fuzz’s help, the two eventually find the perfect tree.   This book doesn’t really place a big emphasis on Christmas, besides the “Merry Merry Holly Holly” and focuses more on friendship.


Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein written by Amanda Peet and Andrea Troyer – This picture book is co-written by actress Amanda Peet.  In this story, Rachel Rosenstein loves everything about Christmas…..except that she’s Jewish.  This year, she writes a letter to Santa, leaves him latkes with chocolate chips and decorates the house in hopes that he will come to her house.  Rachel eventually accepts that the fact that she is Jewish and that not everyone celebrates Christmas.


The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas by Laura Murray – This is the third and newest Gingerbread Man book by Murray. Told in rhyme, this book follows the Gingerbread Man and his classmates as they deliver acts of kindness to community members.  When the class heads back, Gingerbread Man has one last gift to deliver.  Very cute story that highlights free “gifts” that children can give at Christmas.


How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan – Ever wonder how to catch Santa?  Well, this book give s a detailed description on how to do just that.  Filled with colorful illustrations, this is a fun Christmas read.


The Knights Before Christmas by Joan Holub – This is a fun, medieval take on the classic story The Night Before Christmas.  The knights are protecting the castle from an intruder, Santa Claus.  He arrives on eight dragons trying to bring presents to the castle, but will he be successful?


Merry Christmas Mr. Mouse by Caralyn Buehner & Mark Buehner – The wife/husband author and illustrator team of this picture book are also the creators of the Snowmen at Night book.  In this story told in rhyme, Mr. Mouse moves his family into a new nook where he sees a family preparing for and celebrating Christmas.  When he tells Mrs. Mouse what he overhears about a holiday called Christmas, the two decide to celebrate with their family too.  This was a cute story that we enjoyed.


Miracle on 133rd Street by Sonia Manzano – Only after reading this book and the author bio did we discover that Manzano plays Maria on Sesame Street.  This story takes place on Christmas eve, where the roast Jose’s mami is preparing doesn’t fit in their oven.  Jose and his dad bring it down to the pizzeria to cook it in one of the ovens there.  On their way, they pass many neighbors, none who seem in the Christmas spirit.  On their way back, the wonderful smelling roast seems to uplift everyone’s spirits.  This is a super colorful book that showcases how a diverse group of neighbors come together to celebrate the holiday.


The Night Before Christmas: A Brick Story by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Amanda Brack – This is the classic telling of The Night Before Christmas, illustrated using LEGO bricks.   While we are LEGO fans, we thought the LEGO brick illustrations were just okay.


Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas by Rubin Pingk – It’s Christmas eve and Yukio wants to have an epic snowball fight.  The other ninjas refuse, not wanting to be on Santa’s naughty list.  So, Yukio schemes to get the snowball fight that he wants, but has he ruined Christmas for his friends?  This was definitely a different type of Christmas book.  It wasn’t one of our favorites, but will appease any ninja lovers out there.


When Santa Was a Baby by Linda Bailey & Genevieve Godbout – This picture book describes what Santa was like as a baby and how his parents knew he was destined for great things.  The illustrations have a “classic” feel to them and beware, there are several pictures of baby Santa’s behind, which of course cracked the kids up!