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There's nothing quite like a dinner party, especially around the holiday season. You can munch on tasty food while surrounded by cozy familial vibes and good people. Don't you wish you could host one every weekend? What's not to like?

There's a common belief that hosting a holiday party is hard to do with children around. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Before you plan your holiday dinner party, consider some important factors to make the experience as enjoyable as possible and not stressful for you, mama.

Here are several tips on how to host a beautiful dinner party:

1. Make room for the kids

Separate the adults from the children. Either make a designated kids table or move the kids to the end of the table, as this will make serving that much easier—why stress about rearranging the steak knives when you don't have to?

2. Provide personalized seating assignments

By assigning seats, you'll relieve the stress for your guests to have to decide where to sit. Create a name card for each guest and be strategic where you place people to keep the conversation going. Pro tip: Personalize seating cards to encourage conversation among guests such as stating descriptive words about the person or an object that is representative of who they are (like a favorite food) Customize these Shutterfly place cards to assign guests their seats.

3. Keep the kids busy

Want to enjoy a nice glass of champagne but need to entertain the kiddos? Art projects for kids are a great way to keep little ones entertained at parties. Have a table dedicated to one art project. Some of my favorites are:

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  • Making Christmas trees out of Styrofoam and colorful buttons
  • Decorating iconic holiday desserts like cookies or cupcakes. You can even have kids decorate their desserts on plates to take home.
  • Setting up a photo station by having kids get their pictures taken on a Polaroid camera and letting them design their own frame. They can even wrap up the final creation and give it to parents as a gift.

4. Don't fix what isn't broke

Despite the elegance of the party, remember to keep it simple and ensure that you keep the party on brand for yourself and your guests. Don't go too wild with the menu with options that you don't normally eat. For example, I always incorporate french fries on every table, no matter the occasion. Plus, I always provide a menu on the table so guests know what they're about to be eating.

5. Recycle your items

Go shopping in your own cabinets and dust off those China plates that your Grandma gave you. We've all been so afraid of taking out those plates for fear of chipping them, but imperfection is beauty and those flawed plates tell a story. Don't be afraid to use your fancy plates—they look nicer on the table then they do put away. Although, again, would recommend avoiding chinaware for the kids.

6. Keep the decor low to make the conversation flow

The conversation is key to a dinner party so it's crucial to create a setting that enables this. When creating your centerpieces, make sure you find decor that is low enough for small talk. If a person cannot make eye contact with any of the guests directly across or diagonal from them, then the piece is not worth it.

7. Relax

Remember, you're having this dinner party to bring people together and spread the love. This should apply to yourself, too. If you're stressed out or too worried about everyone having a good time, what was the point of even having the dinner? It is unlikely that everything will go as planned (especially with kids), but at the end of the night, it's about the company.

Now that you've mastered the table, here are more holiday decor + entertaining trends to follow:

1. Go with burgundy

Instead of the classic red for the holidays, it's all about burgundy this year. Whether it's in your tablecloths or pillows, make sure to find a way to incorporate this gorgeous color into your holiday events.

2. Bring the outdoors indoors

People are still loving natural elements in holiday decor, so don't be afraid to find inspiration in the great outdoors. Welcome guests into your own private forest (like you're going to cut down your Christmas tree!) by using birch wood accents or oversized glitzy, gold pinecones.

3. Opt for metallics

This holiday season, I'm looking to create coziness wherever possible, which means ditching icy silver tones for warmer golds. This helps bring a sparkly, luxe vibe to any party. You can even create custom ornaments with gold accents for your tree, or have all your gifts wrapped with gold metallic ribbon.

4. Personalized gifts matter

In a time where anything we want is just one click away, purchasing more thoughtful, personalized gifts for family and friends will for sure make you stand out. Opt for a DIY gift like homemade cookies, crafty coasters or homemade body scrub.

5. Music matters too

Music can make or break the ambiance of a party so try not to just turn on a radio station and call it a day. Be thoughtful when creating a playlist for the evening to keep the holiday cheer going all night. Whether you're into contemporary holiday hits, or a fan of the classics (like me!), take the time to curate the musical experience for your guests. If you're in doubt, streaming services have great curated playlists.

6. Focus on Christmas morning

People are starting to create new family traditions on Christmas morning during the holiday season. Get up and make a fun breakfast with the kids after opening presents to focus on spending time with loved ones, not just everyone's new gifts. Try making Christmas tree waffles or reindeer red velvet pancakes. You can even have a topping bar for everyone to decorate their breakfast with fun add-ins like bananas, strawberries, chocolate chips, marshmallows and fun sauces—making it fun and tasty for everyone!

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It's time to go shopping for your little ones mama. Not long ago we shared the super sale on Hunter boots for us moms, and now the super colorful and water proof boots are on sale for kids! Perfect timing as Spring is approaching and there will be a lot of puddle jumping in our futures.

The sale is up to 50% off in select styles, but in all the colors of the rainbow! We don't know how long the sale will last so act fast because some sizes are already on low stock!


Here are our favorite styles to shop from the sale:

The original grab handle boot in light blue

Original Kids First Classic Grab Handle

Originally $55, the original Grab Handle boot is 50% off right now.

$28

The classic gloss boot in blue

Original Kids First Classic Gloss Rain

Originally $55, the original Classic Gloss boot is 40% off right now.

$33

Chelsea boot in yellow 

Original Big Kids' Gloss Chelsea Boots

Originally $75, the Chelsea boot is 40% off right now.

$45

The original grab handle boot in pink

Original Kids First Classic Grab Handle

Originally $55, the original Grab Handle boot is 40% off right now.

$33

The classic gloss boot in yellow

Originally $55, the original Classic Gloss boot is 40% off right now.

$33

The camo boots

Original Little Kids Storm Camo Rain Boots

Originally $75, the camo boot is 50% off right now.

$35

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Jessica Simpson's life seems perfect. She has three beautiful kids, a wildly successful career, a seemingly solid marriage...she has it all, at least as far as we can see. But recent revelations prove that no one really knows what anyone else is secretly dealing with—and Jessica, by her own admission, has been struggling with alcohol issues.

The singer-turned-business-woman recently sat down with TODAY's Hoda Kotb, and it will air on NBC's TODAY Wednesday morning.

"I had started a spiral and I couldn't catch up with myself…and that was with alcohol," Jessica explained. "I would say it openly to everyone. 'I know. I know, I'll stop soon. I'll cut back'," Jessica continued when asked if she realized things were getting out of control. "For me to cut back, like I'm an all or nothing girl, and so I didn't know it was a problem until it was...I completely didn't recognize myself…I always had a glitter cup. It was always filled to the rim with alcohol."

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She's hardly alone. The rise of #winemom phenomenon is well documented and many parents struggle with substance abuse problems. But Simpson's story proves there is a way to get your life back.

Simpson quit drinking in 2017 after she found herself unable to get her kids ready for a Halloween party. She says she'd started drinking before 7:30 in the morning, before accompanying her husband, Eric Johnson, to a school assembly for their oldest daughter. Later that night she was unable to get her kids dressed in their Halloween costumes. The next morning she was so ashamed. Feeling like she had failed her kids she slept until they left the house, then got up and drank some more.

That episode was her tipping point. She quit drinking (as did her husband, Eric Johnson, who supports her in her sobriety.)



As parents, we know how overwhelming the demands can be...and how easy it is to sink into habits that don't ultimately serve us well. For Jessica, the way to heal was to sever her relationship with alcohol.

"I had to give [drinking] up," Jessica said. "I'm not going to miss another day. I'm not going to miss another Halloween. I'm not going to miss another Christmas. I'm going to be present."

News

Babies come with a lot of stuff. And when you're out and about, a roomy, comfy diaper bag is the place for everything you need to be prepared for whatever the day throws your way. But is a cute, trendy diaper bag that doesn't scream, well... DIAPER BAG, too much to ask? It's not, mamas.

We've rounded up our favorite diaper bags that don't actually look like diaper bags, but instead like the cute, super stylish bags you might have carried before the days of finding crushed up puffs at the bottom of your purse.

These bags prove you can get the job done, mama—and look darn good while doing it.

Freshly Picked City Pack

Freshly Picked City Pack

This simple, modern backpack can easily take you from a day at work to dinner with the kiddos. We love the hardware details, the lightweight design, and the hidden back pocket.

$150

Vogshow Waterproof Bag

Vogshow Waterproof Diaper Bag

A sleek look, plus a padded laptop compartment, anti-theft and insulated pockets and magnetic buttons instead of zippers. 🙌

$34.99

Skip Hop Travel Bag

Skip Hop Travel Bag

With a large zippered main compartment, there's plenty of room to keep all of the things. We love the adjustable straps—you can wear as a backpack, cross-body, messenger bag, or attach to the stroller.

$99.99

Companion Quilted Backpack

companion quilted backpack diaper bag

Are you off to sit on the beach for a few hours, or taking your toddlers to the zoo? No one will be the wiser, mamas. We love the quilted look, padded straps, and roomy interior.

$178

Mommore Diaper Backpack

Mommore Diaper Backpack

With a water resistant exterior, wet clothes pocket and a main compartment that completely opens up, you'll love having this to tote around.

$34.99

JJ Cole Brookmont

JJ Cole Cognac Diaper Bag

As stunning as it is functional. It has 15 pockets and a removable liner on the inside so you can easily clean up messes in no time.

$99.99

Little Unicorn Boardwalk Tote

If you're looking to keep things simple + stylish, mamas, this is the bag for you. It's versatile, functional, and will get tons of use well past the diaper days.

$69.95

Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

This stunning tote would make the perfect on-the-go bag. It comes with a changing page and a couple pockets on the inside to keep everything organized. Don't forget to personalize it!

$99

Ticent Tote

Ticent Diaper Bag

With nearly 500 reviews, this one has incredible ratings. It offers multiple pockets, including an insulated one for snacks or bottles. The waterproof cotton material is ideal for those inevitable spills.

$30.99

Fawn Design Original

Stylish and versatile, this bag can be worn as a cross body or as a backpack. It's roomy without being bulky, and has a total of 10 pockets for awesome storage.

$159.99

Skip Hop Greenwich Backpack

No one would ever know this bag is packed full of baby's items. 😉

$69.99

Rosie Pope Highbury Hill

Highbury Hill Diaper Backpack

If you're looking to up your style, this chic backpack will help you get there. Lots of inner pockets and zippered compartments make it simple to organize your stuff, and the top flap and wide opening make for quick + easy accessibility.

$159.99

Babymel Robyn

Babymel Robyn Diaper Backpack

We love everything about this effortlessly stylish faux leather backpack. It's easy to wipe down, converts to a cross body bag, and even comes with a changing pad and drawstring bottle holder.

$90

Petunia Pickle Bottom Pathway

Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper Tote

This two-tone canvas bag could not be prettier. We love that it easily stands upright when set down, and that it's super functional as a diaper bag yet super stylish as an everyday purse.

$159

Skip Hop Duo

Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag

The timeless stripes on this 11-pocket bag means it will never go out of style, and the durable cotton canvas means it will stand up to years of use.

$70

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Frustrations and emotions were at an all time high for both us. I was worried that my lack of patience would get the best of me, leaving her feeling let down and frustrated with me on her new journey of becoming a “big girl." And selfishly, I was tired of washing wet underwear. For her part, my daughter was tired of being asked for the hundredth time if she needed to use the potty.

We both were feeling a little defeated in this new adventure.

I have found too often as a mother that I expect my child to respond new things, like to potty training, as fast and as close to the last blog post, book or opinion I heard or read. What I have learned is that no two children are alike and the moment I release my expectations for where mine should or should not be, we are both brought back to peace and patience.

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So maybe a break was all we needed to start fresh the next day. We headed to our favorite spot by the lake and had a picnic. My daughter munched on popcorn and chatted away about the weather and pinecones, and listened for the sounds of helicopters—which you hear quite often living on an aviation military base.

Sometimes in the daily struggles of motherhood I have noticed that I can forget who I am and the strength we possess as mothers. It may not come easily at first, but I grow with each new day. Even potty training—this mundane human activity that is emotional and (quite literally) messy, teaches me much about the meaning and purpose of motherhood.

Potty training has taught me a huge lesson on patience. Patience to be present, to pay attention to what is right in front of me. To be encouraging, to not rush the process, to not place expectations on timing or play the comparison game we often play as mothers.

Patience is needed in every area of parenting and potty training is just one way where we can see as parents where our patience is wearing thin.

I have found that it's when I come from a place of patience and presence that I can then glean wisdom from those messy, mundane, time-consuming tasks of potty training, and find that the waiting, sitting and hours of time spent in the bathroom gives me an opportunity to be present in my child's world.

Whether it be the grocery line, a traffic jam, or cleaning up wet bedding, I learn the art and joy in the small and big moments in motherhood. Giving our children space to fail and try it again as many times as it takes encourages them that they too can cultivate the gift of patience in there own tiny lives.

My daughter speaks to me everyday, inviting growth that sometimes feels really hard and frustrating, she provokes patience to be felt and sensed through every minute of the day. And for this I am grateful. Because to truly live and be present in my child's world means “I learn from her, and she learns from me." Even in potty training.

Our children have so much to offer to who we are as individuals and they have so much to teach us. In fact, I have come to live for these exhausting, beautiful, and downright messy moments in time. When I push myself to embrace them, rather than just find them frustrating, I stretch and grow and evolve. I become the mother I hope to be.

And to you mama, whether in the midst of sleepless newborn nights or toddler tornados or the midst of potty training, may you find strength as a mother, as a wife, and as a person to let go of any expectations or judgements you place upon yourself.

May love and gratitude fill our hearts and peace be with all of us on the journey that motherhood is.

Life
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