7 spectacular holiday gifts that will win you an 'aunt of the year' award

One of my favorite things to do is spoil my niece and nephews and this especially rings true during the holidays. Parents can give practical gifts, grandparents can give sweet presents, but aunts and uncles have the pleasure of just focusing on gifting items that are pure fun. After all, we don't have to go home with that loud drum set and hear banging for hours. 😉

My littles' age ranges from 1 to 10-years old so I have to be strategic when it comes to gift giving. The toddler obsesses over surprise toys, but I really have to nail the cool factor for the oldest. (I've learned it really does get harder to find the perfect present as they get older). So I've been doing my research to ensure they'll actually use these presents year-round.

Here are some of the items on my short list this year:

Kids sports jersey

kids yankees jersey

My oldest nephew is really starting to enjoy sports and while I can't fly him to a Yankees game just yet (I'm working on getting permission, don't worry) this is the next best thing. He can wear it at home to watch games or sport it to school because it's machine-washable.

$39.99

Makeup kit

girls makeup

If there's anything I know my niece loves, it's unicorns and makeup. This set has bright colors, actual brushes and even nail polish. And I know mama will feel good that it's non-toxic and water-based so it'll wash off with no problem.

$15.99

Blanquil weighted blanket

kids weighted blanket

I didn't believe in the weighted blanket craze until I tried it myself. Spoiler alert: It really does help with sleep. So when I saw that they made mini versions for kids, I was sold. It's only 7 pounds and oh-so-soft, making it the perfect blanket to cuddle up with for nap time.

$109

Movie gift card

amc movie gift card

I love taking the older two kids out on adventures and one of their favorite things is going to grab food and see a movie. I'd pair this gift card with a note letting them know they can choose to redeem it whenever they want. Plus, they get to pick where we eat. (Almost always McDonalds, but I'll take it).

$25

Hape pound + tap bench

hape hit bench

The baby (okay, he's technically a year-and-half old now) loves to explore and figure things out. This bench will let him toss balls, hit the keyboard and make music—keeping him entertained for more than just a few minutes and helping him develop fine motor skills. Win-win-win!

$25.90

X-box bundle

xbox bundle

The 10-year-old can be hard to impress, but lucky for him his birthday falls in December too so I always splurge a little more on him. This bundle includes the Xbox One console, wireless controller, 1-month trial of Game Pass and Live Gold and Lego Speed Champions add-on. Mama will love the family settings it features and I'll officially be the coolest aunt of the year.

$299

Season pass to a theme park

season pass

Every summer, the kids love going to Carowinds, a theme and water park in their area. So, gifting them a whole season is something I know they'll use (and it's a gift for mama, too).

$90


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I'm usually that girl who shells out for premium leggings, and I still think they're fun as a treat, but I've now bought these so-called "compression" leggings in multiple colors. And since 74% of you told us in a recent Instagram poll that you live in leggings, we hope this practical hot tip can help make #momlife a little easier for you, too.

So why compression? While we'd never advise going to extremes, we're not opposed to a little help keeping everything in place. To be clear, this isn't about hiding—we're all for celebrating our bodies (and especially our bellies) at every stage. But adapting to an ever-changing shape can be distracting, and a little extra support around the stomach and hips can feel amazing after birth and help you focus on what's important.

What these $20 leggings have on even my most expensive pairs is that they are thick—meaning they don't snag in the wash, sheer out when I squat, or (heaven forbid) rip when I bend over. Their durability makes them perfect for both household chores and high-intensity workouts. They're also warm, making them well-suited for transitioning between seasons. And once your wardrobe fully changes over, the same brand makes compression shorts that are equally comfy.

Homma Premium Thick High Waist Tummy Compression Slimming Leggings

amazon leggings

As for the whole compression thing? Once they're on, I honestly don't notice anything but how flattering they are when I catch my reflection in the mirror. The 88% Nylon, 12% Spandex blend keeps it tight without feeling, well, too tight. Think of the compression like a gentle hug, or a guardian angel that just wants to bless your curves all day long. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to order another pair.

$19.95

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I admit it: We struggle with screen time in my house. My 4-year-old is a rambunctious consumer of entertainment and most of his beloved forms come in the mini screen of my cell phone. I do, however, do my best to fill that screen with the most educational kid's apps that exist, and one of his favorites is the world of Sago Mini. Their apps are fun, playful, and yes, help him learn something too.

So imagine our excitement when we found out that Sago Mini is bringing that experience offline with an IRL kid's toy subscription service that sends open-ended toys to you about once a month. The service officially launched Tuesday, February 18th and it's perfect for kids aged 3-5. It costs about $19 a month or $15 a month if you pay for an annual subscription.

The Sago Mini box

The first set of boxes will have planes, road trip and fairy tales themes. ✨The box we tried was road-trip themed and it came with everything your little needs to get off the phone and into their imagination. I loved that even the box itself can be turned into a toy by disassembling it and rebuilding it inside out. Because we all know that sometimes our kid's favorite toy ends up being the box it was shipped in!

The kit comes with three make and play activities, all designed to build off each other. For example, our road trip box came with a felt "road" that my son loved draping all over the furniture, and a cardboard car with wooden wheels in one activity pack. Then the second activity pack had destinations your child can "drive" their car to like Grandma's house, school and a gas station.

I especially appreciated that they kept an eye on sustainability (and cute design!) when creating these play materials. All the paper materials that come in the box are made from recycled goods or sourced from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC certified). The best part? My son played with his set for a good few hours—and never asked for my phone once.

$15
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Wouldn't it be nice to throw on mascara and instantly look well-rested? Let's set the scene: You've been up all night caring for your sick toddler and you look extremely tired. You quickly apply a waterproof, lengthening and volumizing mascara and poof—tired eyes begone. Sounds like a magic trick, right? But we have a few mascaras in our makeup bag that can do just that, mama.

These are our favorite mascaras to use that make us look well-rested and ready to conquer the day, even if we're running on just a few hours:

Tarte surfer curl mascara

Tarte surfer curl mascara

Whether you're prepping for hot yoga, a day at the beach, or just keeping up with the kiddos, Tarte's latest mascara is perfect for a mamas active lifestyle. It's a vitamin E- based mascara that delivers sweatproof, weightless volume without the clumps. Pro tip: Just do the top lashes for a more natural look.

$23

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna full frontal volume, lift + curl mascara

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna full frontal volume, lift + curl mascara

This popular mascara was designed to deliver Rihanna's full lash look, and we must admit, after three applications, our lashes turned out thicker and fuller than ever. The key to this formula is that it's paired with aflat-to-fat brush that customizes what you need. The fat side holds lots of product to quickly load and lift lashes, while the flat side defines and curls each lash.

$24

Maybelline lash sensational mascara

Maybelline lash sensational mascara

Not ready to spend loads of money on a beauty product? We hear you. That's why we love this liquid ink formula from Maybelline. It coats from all sides for full coverage with a featherlight feel. Just be careful with your application—it requires a good makeup remover to remove.

$9.99

L'Oréal voluminous lash paradise mascara

L'Or\u00e9al voluminous lash paradise mascara

If a deep black color is what you're after, this mascara will get you there in the best way possible. The soft wavy bristle brush gives lots of volume and the 200 bristles catch every lash for a full fringe effect. No, seriously—get the results you crave in only two coats!

$10.99

Stila Cosmetics magnum xxx mascara

Stila Cosmetics magnum xxx mascara

Suffer from thin, straight lashes that never seem to curl? This creamy, non-clumping formula is buildable and gives instant volume. It's also pretty cool that the blossom-shaped fiber wand is carved in a curved silhouette that dispenses just the right amount of formula on each individual lash for lots of volume.

$23

Marc Jacobs velvet noir major volume mascara

Marc Jacobs velvet noir major volume mascara

When we heard that this mascara was inspired by Marc Jacobs' first beauty memory of his mother shaving fibers from a velvet ribbon to create her own faux lashes, we knew this was something special. This mascara gives smudge-proof length and volume in three strokes or less.

$27

IT Cosmetics superhero mascara

 IT Cosmetics superhero mascara

If black mascara leaves you with raccoon eyes by the end of the day, this mascara might be your new bestie. Developed with plastic surgeons, and clinically tested, it provides both length and volume in one coat. Also, the formula contains collagen, biotin and peptides to condition your lashes as you coat.

$24

Too Faced better than sex waterproof mascara

Too Faced better than sex waterproof mascara

Without question, the original better than sex mascara lives up to its name, and the waterproof feature on this one is an added bonus. The hourglass-shaped brush was designed with extra stiff bristles to maximize the performance of this super black, collagen-fueled formula. But, once on your lashes, prepare to rub for a long time to get it off.

$25

Lancôme monsieur big mascara

Lanc\u00f4me Monsieur big mascara

This is one of Lancôme's bestselling mascaras and we get why. For starters, it's a creamy formula with a gel-like texture that does not require touch-ups. It also brings a ton of volume, without the flaking.

$25

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Kim Kardashian West has recently been in the spotlight for her home design—it's incredibly minimalist, with lots of white, bright (but barely there) details—and it got many mamas wondering: How do multiple kiddos live there? Because no matter how much we love minimalism, it can be hard to maintain when toys seem to pop up out of nowhere.

Well, she gave us a sneak peek into her kids' playroom today on Instagram Stories. "You guys always say my house is so minimal—well, you guys haven't seen my playroom," shares Kardashian West.



So now we get it. Among the super-cool details (hello, concert stage and movie projector), her four little ones do play with a ton of toys. Some toys, in fact, that our own kids play with!

Here are some of our favorite toys that we spotted in Kim Kardashian's playroom:

Melissa & Doug Wooden Grocery Store

melissa and doug grocery cart

One of Motherly mamas' favorite interactive play sets. Complete with a hand cranked conveyor belt, a beeping scanner and swipe machine. Plus, it looks beautiful in any playroom. (It was adorable watching Kim show us how it works.)

$175.10

CAT Construction Fleet Dump Truck

kids toy drump truck

Littles will love putting items in the back of the dump truck. Even better, it's great for both indoor and outdoor play (even works great in sand!).

$10.99

Sesame Street Big Bird Toy

sesame street toy

This super soft plush toy is a classic with a twist. Yes, it's Big Bird, your child's friend from Sesame Street, but with an artsy twist by Kaws. It's just a tiny detail in the toy's eyes that makes it different and so much cooler.

$100

Learning Resources Pretend Play Food

pretend play baked goods

With 15 pieces, kids have everything they need to bake cookies and cupcakes. Bonus points for working on their hand-eye coordination with the rolling pin, spatula and mixing bowl.

$17

KidKraft Lil' Symphony Guitar

kidkraft kids guitar

The Kardashian West kids might just take after their dad practicing their music skills with this wooden guitar. With nearly 400 positive reviews, this is a favorite for many mamas.

$22.49

LEGO Classic Box

lego classic

Kids can build and bring anything to life with this set—484 pieces total. Kim has the Legos organized by colors in her drawers, but we like this box to drop everything in.

$27.86

100-Piece Wooden Train Set

wooden train set

A gorgeous wooden train set for kids of all ages. This one comes with multiple tracks, bridges, buildings and vehicles to create the ultimate experience.

$42.99

Melissa & Doug Toy Shopping Cart

melissa and doug cart

We doubt Kim Kardashian does her own grocery shopping, but her little ones seem to love this pretend play grocery cart. It pairs perfectly with the grocery mart above!

$57.99

London Doll Pram Stroller

kids london doll pram

This gorgeous stroller is the sweetest accessory for kids who enjoy playing with baby dolls. It's big enough to fit all different types, from small Barbies to larger ones. Plus, the wheels don't swivel so it's easy for small hands to push around.

$55.99

Play-Doh Play Pack

play doh

This classic toy never goes out of style. Kiddos can create just about anything their imagination wants with the squishy and bright, non-toxic modeling clay.

$7.99

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