Momma Told Me: 2017

Blog Archive

3 Tips To Feel Confident In The New Year + $250 Walmart Giveaway

3 Tips To Build Confidence In The New Year with #findyourDreamfit. #HelloBeautiful #AD
There are many things that define me.

For example, friends and family know, I am not responsible for my actions if you wake me from a dead sleep on a weekend morning.

I will always look for, clip, and use a coupon or discount even if I've one day won the lottery and am set for life.

My sneezes sound more like terrified screams than dainty little lady sniffles.

I'd sooner sleep on my bedroom floor than inconvenience my cat.

And, if it has glitter, or bright colors I'll probably convince myself to buy it.

Sometimes people discuss these traits as if they are flaws, things I should be embarrassed about, or strive to alter. But the truth is, if you aren't yourself, who are you?
As we march towards yet another new year the promise of fresh starts, and new outlooks beckon warm thoughts and positive thinking. And, as you reach for those New Year's Resolutions and goals your best key to success, no matter the theme of the goal, is confidence. When you practice confidence in yourself you are naturally inclined to perform better, and work harder, without even knowing. Never-mind the positive cause-and-effect confidence has when others see you radiating positive vibes and owning yourself.

Whether you're experienced with confidence, or spend the majority of the time in your own head arguing with yourself, the new year is the perfect time to help rebuild, or instill some confidence. A few simple tips can help.
1. From The Inside Out

It may seem silly, but you really want to begin your confidence re-boot with a little personal shopping. While so many get hung up on their outward appearance through fashion and makeup, how you feel underneath is just as important. I'm talking, of course, about the clothes generally only you get to see.

As a plus-sized woman my confidence begins with comfort and functionality- my bra lives on me for more hours than I spend living in my bed; we have a pretty tight relationship. I rely on it to not only offer support, and shaping, but to help relieve the pain of walking around with a DD chest. Traditionally this has meant that I have 3 color options (the ever exciting black, white and nude) and must assign a budget of $45-$60 per bra. It also means a trip to a specialty 'plus size' store, as I generally can't shop for what I need at the convenient big box stores.

That's why Dreamfit at Walmart has been a game changer.
Dreamfit offers a wide selection of styles designed to flatter curvy gals in stylish colors and prints every lady can feel flirty and confident in. Even more exciting the average pricepoint of Dreamfit bras at Walmart is under $15- I recently shopped a stretch cotton plunge bra and subtle push up Dreamfit for just $12.88 each! How cute are those stripes in that soft cotton stretch material, ladies?

My Dreamfit bras are not only cute and affordable they are easy to wear- many feature back strap designs that help flatter and fight the 'curve bulge' that make so many plus sized women overly critical of their shape in clothes. I love that I can move easily, while maintaining support, and wear all of my favorite outfits with confidence and comfort- they're easily the most affordable confidence booster I've invested in this year!
2. Express Yourself

You don't have to be, and very well may not be, loud or colorful to practice this step. All you have to do is embrace your gut instinct. Try something new, buy that extra print you were eyeing on the rack, part your hair a different way just to see what it looks like.

One of the biggest obstacles to confidence is our own self doubts- we tend to question how our choices will be perceived by others, but the trick is to own our decisions with confidence. Regardless of what others personal preference or reactions are your ownership of the decision will quickly win them over.

90 percent of 'pulling it off' isn't being model beautiful, it's walking tall with confidence and loving your decisions.
If you're still a bit nervous then start implementing these bolder decisions in smaller, private aspects of your life, such as your personal wardrobe or home.

Dreamfit has several beautiful bold prints to shop from, and simply knowing you've decided to step out of your comfort zone and embrace something new is sure to inspire the feel goods inside you. The more you feel comfortable in your own skin, even behind closed doors, or under your 'public clothing' the more confident you will present yourself in public.
3. Experience More

My final tip may seem a little counter-intuitive- trying new things doesn't always come easy for those looking to build confidence, but it's the surest way to do so!

You don't have to go sky-diving or tear through a bucket list to experience new things. Even the smallest of new experiences will help build your life story, and naturally inspire confidence building new skills, share-worthy experiences, and build a network of equally supportive people.

Start small by trying something new at your favorite restaurant, or binging a show you know little about. All new experiences aren't guaranteed to be positive, and they don't have to, but the willingness to break out of that comfort zone and try them in the first place is worth celebrating. And the things you do discover you enjoy only help to shape the complicated tapestry that is you.

As humans we are naturally the most critical of ourselves.

Use this notion to help inspire yourself to be a little more confident the next time your thoughts get the better of you. It's impossible to influence or control the thoughts and perceptions of everyone your come into contact with, but controlling your own thoughts and perceptions is 100% doable!

Begin by ensuring that you are comfortable in your own skin- update your wardrobe, pick up a few new Dreamfit bras, and don't be afraid to express yourself both in and outside your home with new experiences. Once you begin building and reinforcing that confidence you will naturally accumulate people in your life who are as equally attracted by your confidence, and as enthusiastic about yourself as you are.
Lastly, one of my favorite bonus ways to help build confidence every day?

The first time you see yourself in the mirror every day stop and say,

"Hello Beautiful"

I don't care if you slept in your makeup and your falsies are stuck to your eyebrows or if you fell asleep breastfeeding and have spit up on your chest, repeat those 2 simple words.

Have fun, say it with sass, use a sultry voice, give yourself a wink- just do it. Every single day.


Because you deserve to hear it- and hearing it is the surest way to start training your brain to embrace the strong, sexy, confident woman that is you!

I'm not going to say I'm the picture of confidence- I am far from hung up on myself, and I have more questionable moments than not- but these practices, when done regularly, really do help instill that sense of confidence every woman needs an deserves. To learn more about how Dreamfit bras can help you recapture some confidence, and for your chance to win 1 of 4 $250 Walmart gift cards please enter here:

A Gamer Girl's Quickstart Guide To Becoming A PC Gamer

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LoveYourPC  #Intel8thGen #CollectiveBias
A gamer girl's quickstart guide to becoming a PC gamer with #Intel8thGen. #LoveYourPC #AD
As a millennial (#buzzword) I was born alongside the birth of modern day gaming.

I've shared before how I quite literally would fall asleep to the sound of my father playing The Legend Of Zelda, that iconic 8-bit music my lullaby from my crib. 'Video games' was a battle my mother so smartly chose not to fight- while she never played them, she also never held my father back from investing large portions of their leftover income into the newest systems, peripherals, and games. But what really intrigued my father most was the modern PC. The fact that he could not only build an ideal machine from the motherboard up, but the following introduction of AOL and the world wide web fascinated him.

At the age of 7 my father decided to bring me into his world. Our very tiny 2 bedroom condo living/dining room had an identical, but smaller, roll top desk installed directly next to my father's. Weeknights would be spent playing DOOM, with the blood and guts turned down (my very first game mod experience) and a private server (so only my father and I could play together). I was hooked.
Of course not everybody grows up being told they can slay demons and save the world one click at a time.

When it comes to women and gaming there are some definite stereotypes- many of my friends have expressed interest in picking up the hobby but simply don't know where to start. There's a perception that you need to invest in special gaming consoles with expensive hard to learn controllers, and choose from an overwhelming selection of titles. For the modern woman who wants to break into gaming, without large commitments and learning curves, I recommend PC gaming.
Beginners don't need to build specialized computers- many of the modern 2-in-1 PC options, such as the DELL Inspiron 7000 2-In-1 with 8th Gen Intel® Core™ processor, are a great option for introductory gaming and can prove a worthwhile investment for home and work.

To get started you'll want to go into your local Best Buy where you'll find a wide selection of portable PC options on display and ready to interact with. The knowledgeable staff working in the computer electronics department can help you narrow down devices to something that is capable of running an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) or other real time strategy game, while also handling everyday consumer demands such as Windows Office, photo-editing, social sharing and online video communication, on-the-go entertainment, and more.
Of course there are a few things you will want to shop for to ensure you can handle the gaming aspect; my two biggest musts in a beginner gaming PC laptop is a dedicated graphics card and the impressively fast 8th Gen Intel® Core™ processor. To be honest, the prior isn't much use without the latter- having the current generation Intel® Core™ on board your new gaming device will really help any and all of your laptop's features function at top speed and quality.

The 8th Gen Intel® Core™ processors offer exceptional performance, high multi-tasking properties (essential in online gaming), state of the art audio/video processing, and even an improved security experience. Just ask your Best Buy representative to show you their recommended 8th Gen Intel® Core™ 2-in-1 PC devices, and/or look for the Intel Inside 8th gen sticker on the lower right corner of display devices.

While there are many options for dedicated gaming devices you, as a new gamer, will want a versatile multi-purpose device that is an affordable entry option. Don't waste your money trying to buy a gaming specific PC out of the gate- this is a hobby that allows for learning and time to grow- invest in a device that has a fast processor like the 8th Gen Intel® Core™, and can double as your primary PC for everyday communications and tasks as well.
A gamer girl's quickstart guide to becoming a PC gamer with #Intel8thGen. #LoveYourPC #AD
You may be thinking- well, I'm on a computer right now, why can't I just download 'X' game and get playing?

The honest truth is that gaming, as a hobby, can be an immediate put-off if you are left constantly fighting server lag (jumps and skips in loading and graphic displays) when trying to interact with a real-time world. It's going to be a journey learning the new controls and mechanics of your chosen game, don't bog down the experience with an old processor and computer that can't handle the software. Many 8th Gen Intel® Core™ 2-in-1 devices also happen to feature a dedicated graphics card, something many older PCs often overlooked. This means that they include a graphics card specially integrated into the computer to handle the video content on your computer, as opposed to a built in graphics drive intended to render your everyday content (such as personal videos and social media ads). When shopping for an introductory gaming PC always ask for a dedicated graphics card to get the most out of your processor.
Once you're set up with a processor that can handle online gaming and video processing you'll want to install your game of choice. There are many types of PC games- traditionally PC gaming is associated with MMORPGs, but the greater majority of high end titles released on gaming consoles are also released for PC. If you prefer more of a first person shooter, or even real-time-strategy there are many titles out there. In general many of the following tips will work with any type of online PC game format but, for the sake of simplicity let's focus on an MMORPG.

1. Getting Started

Begin by downloading your game- most of the main PC gaming titles are now stored online and downloaded directly through their publisher. These files are large and can take the better part of a day on an old processor and device. When I recently installed World Of Warcraft on my new DELL Inpiron 7000 I could immediately see the benefits of upgrading to the 8th Gen Intel® Core™ processor, my overall installation time was cut nearly in half!
 2. Get Real World Geared

While your game installs you'll want to wander on over to Best Buy and browse some of the peripherals that might enhance your online gaming experience.

Peripherals are the devices you plug in, or connect wirelessly via Bluetooth, that allow you to interact with your main PC device in new or amplified manners. This could be a mouse, keyboard, dedicated web camera, microphone, or more.

While you can play pretty much any PC game with a basic laptop keyboard you will want at the very minimum a free standing mouse, track-pads simply aren't an option unless you're free range movement will be through your up, down, left, right keys- and that will get quite old after a while. A standard 2 bottom mouse will suffice, and is my suggestion for new gamers, where as you can upgrade to a dedicated gaming mouse later once you've better learned the mechanics of your new game.

My new DELL Inspiron 7000 has built in Bluetooth, which works impressively well for fast stable connections in part due to the 8th Gen Intel® Core™  processor. I enjoy using my existing Bluetooth communication devices when chatting over voice during game-play- it makes for a quick and convenient way to communicate without setting up an entire headset rig.
3. Choosing A Home

When you first login to your new online game you will likely be tasked with choosing a server.

This can seem arbitrary to the new gamer, but is actually something worth spending a but of consideration on above a random selection. Many games will list server population (how many players actively play on that server) and the main focus of the server's gaming style. For example, a PVP server will consist of open combat between players, and would not be a good place for a new gamer to start out. High population servers also tend to demand more background memory and a fast processor, older computers and processors might experience high delays in load times and lag on high population servers. Many games also have servers designated 'New Players' which are often very low in population and a good starting point for those just trying to get the swing of things.

If you have a friend who plays the game you've chosen to embark on consider asking them which server their characters 'live' on. Characters often cannot interact 'cross server' so if you would like to play with your friends, or learn the ropes from them, your first character should be on their server.
A gamer girl's quickstart guide to becoming a PC gamer with #Intel8thGen. #LoveYourPC #AD
4. Getting In Character

Next comes one of my favorite parts of beginning a new game- character creation. We in 'the biz' call these avatars 'toons'- they are the physical representation of yourself within the game's world. Different games will have varied personalization options from character's race (troll, elf, human, etc) to skin tone, wardrobe, hair style, and more. You may find that different roles (hunter, priest, warrior, etc) may have different races and physical options available. Do a little research on the role of your character before locking in appearance- your toon's appearance should never dictate your role, as this can immediately impact your game-play experience.

Once you have created a character you'll need to name them. Chances are there will be an option for a random name generator, if you're not feeling particularly creative- just keep in mind that many games charge for name changes- so be sure you are in love with your character's name before locking it in. You may be stuck with it for 100 levels! If you find you keep running into the 'name taken' issue- consider alternate spellings, special linguistics characters, or even translating your name into Latin for some cool workarounds.
5. Setting Yourself Up For Success

Before you take that shiny new character into the brave new world of online gaming get a dedicated gaming space set up. The beauty of being a new casual gamer with a 2-In-1 laptop is that you are mobile and can game anywhere with an internet connection. However, you will want to have a dedicated gaming space for more committed gaming sessions. I strongly recommend using a desk and structured work space for your first few sessions with a new game. The less environmental distractions and challenges you have, the more you can better immerse yourself in the new world and experience.
As someone who has been PC gaming since childhood I rarely 'take myself seriously' and pull out the gaming mouse and keyboard- but I do have in game commitments (more on that later) that require me to try and do my very best. For the most part MMORPGs are wonderful because you can literally log in and play with no stress or specific time relevant goal. There are a variety of things you can do at any time, and there is little to no stress over when you choose to do them. Should you get 'hooked' and progress beyond the typical sandbox modes, and decide to begin building your character and status within ranks, you will want more dedicated peripheral devices.
A gamer girl's quickstart guide to becoming a PC gamer with #Intel8thGen. #LoveYourPC #AD
6. Defining Your Gaming Experience

Speaking of grooming one's self to play competitively- There are many options to play against and with large groups of people in online gaming. For the most part, unless you specifically join an elite server, the general mindset is to support and help one another. Your character's gear will help determine it's strength and attack power, but in order to obtain better gear you will need to venture into scenarios intended to require groups of players for defeat. These are typically called dungeons, or raids.

You don't have to have friends who play, or even make friends in the game, to hop into dungeons or raids- most games will allow a sort of random 'group finder' service that will toss you together with other people seeking to complete the same task at the same time. However, you will want to consult some tips and watch these events/fights online before you attempt to tackle them.
7. Doing Your Homework

In general, if you need help with anything in your game YouTube is an amazing resource to walk you through. From character creation, to quest completion and raid fights, you can find in game examples of how-to do just about anything. If you are stuck on a particular quest or fight I highly suggest the FATBOSSTV channel, which is one of the biggest authorities in MMORPG gaming strategies and walkthroughs. We've come a long way from those heavy encyclopedia game guide books my dad used to have stacked on his desk!

Best of all, the 8th Gen Intel® Core™ processor helps you efficiently multi task with walk-through videos tabbed out, so you can switch between those guides and live game play for an immediate case-and-effect.
Game aids such as Twich can help new gamers easily install add-ons, communicate with fellow gamers, and live stream content. #LoveYourPC #AD
Game aids such as Twich can help new gamers easily install add-ons, communicate with fellow gamers, and live stream content. #LoveYourPC #AD
8. Modify Your Virtual Reality

Once you've tinkered with your character and the basic game-play a bit, probably around level 30 or so, you'll want to look into game mods.

I know, this sounds extremely technical and geeky but, trust me, it couldn't be easier with the modern technology of Twitch/Curse. Essentially Twitch is a one-stop program for many of your online gaming interactions and needs. It's built into many games, and only needs to be downloaded to start interacting with your game of choice.

From there you'll want to go to the 'Mods' tab, select your game, and begin browsing.

Mods are just as they sound, small extras or mini program overlays that run in conjunction with your real time game to make game-play easier, more understandable, or just plain more fun.

A good example of a widely used mod is Deadly Boss Mods, which essentially puts written warnings on your screen when you need to dodge an attack, or are say, standing in fire (it happens a lot, trust me). Other mods might allow you to move the game's interface around to make it more aesthetically pleasing, add your name next to your character in chat, or alert you when something new is nearby you in the game's world.

Mods aren't needed to run or use games, but they do make the games easier for beginners if you are willing to download the Twitch program. A quick search online with 'game mod' and your game's name will help pull up the most popular and useful mod titles for you.
Game aids such as Twich can help new gamers easily install add-ons, communicate with fellow gamers, and live stream content. #LoveYourPC #AD
A gamer girl's quickstart guide to becoming a PC gamer with #Intel8thGen. #LoveYourPC #AD
Game aids such as Twich can help new gamers easily install add-ons, communicate with fellow gamers, and live stream content. #LoveYourPC #AD
9. Reach Out And Watch Somebody

Twitch is also used commonly for gaming communication and live-streaming.

While you may not be ready to live stream your game activity watching live streams of others can be very helpful to learn what to do, where to go, and generally feel better about your own in game fails.

Twitch is very graphics heavy and requires your computer to do many things in the background so having a fast processor like the 8th Gen Intel® Core™is essential to ensure you don't experience any lag or disruptions in game-play.

If you're looking for a less personal method of sharing your game experience, and communicating in game, consider downloading Discord. This will help you communicate real time with other players when you are in group activities such as dungeons or raids. Should you join a guild (a group of players with similar skills and interests who regularly play together) you will most assuredly need to have some form of real-time voice communication.
10. Let Your (Gamer) Geek Flag Fly

Lastly, before you can become a bonafide beginner gamer you must begin expressing your gaming passion through references that seem mildly obscure and non-sensical to those outside your gaming world. You'll instinctively begin dropping jargon such as 'Murloc' or 'DK', reference the time of real life events in 'server time' despite your game's server being located halfway around the world, change your social media profile picture to obscure artwork of your character in game, and acquire a few plush animals that anyone who enters your home will assuredly be unable to identify.

Did I mention my new DELL Inspiron 7000 with 8th Gen Intel® Core™ processor  is also impressively good at all of my photo and graphics editing needs, as well? I constantly have Pixlr or PicMonkey up in the background to edit images in between raid pulls and in world events. And, it's mighty useful for those 'real world' tasks like blog post editing, and 'work' (whatever that is).
A gamer girl's quickstart guide to becoming a PC gamer with #Intel8thGen. #LoveYourPC #AD
I'm not going to say you're now a master gamer ready to quit your day job and go pro- heck, I feel like I came out of the womb with a screen-name and a battle tag, and I'm not even there yet. However, PC gaming as a casual hobby is attainable and not something that should intimidate those interested in giving it a try. Start by investing in a solid multi-tasking 2-in-1 PC with an 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor and you'll not only be upgrading your everyday computing tasks, but jump-starting your new hobby with smooth online processing and powerful multi-tasking capabilities. You know, so you can tab out when the 'real world' calls.

Give Back With A Single Photo + #SealsForGood- No Purchase Necessary

#SealsForGood Share Real California Milk Seals now through 12/31 with the hashtag #SealsForGood and a $5 donation will be made to help FL and TX hurricane, and CA wildfire relief efforts by the Great American Milk Drive up to $20k and $10k! No purchase necessary! #AD
As bloggers I think we tend to get a little caught up in ourselves.

There's a campaign going around to help spread the word about a very special charity initiative in cooperation with Real California Milk and the Great American Milk Drive. It began a few months back as a response to the Florida and Texas hurricane relief, and has since rolled into supporting California Wildfire relief efforts.

It requires people to do no more than share a photo of a product with the Real California Milk Seal and upload it on social media with the hashtag #SealsForGood (adding a @RealCalifMilk tag helps, too). The photos can be grainy, shot on the shelf in a dairy case, taken as you toss out the wrapper for your cheese while cooking dinner, snapped with a smartphone, uploaded on numerous channels, and can be done as many times as you want now through 12/31/2017, until the initiative hits it's raising caps of $20k for TX and FL hurricane relief and $10k for CA wildfire relief.
#SealsForGood Share Real California Milk Seals now through 12/31 with the hashtag #SealsForGood and a $5 donation will be made to help FL and TX hurricane, and CA wildfire relief efforts by the Great American Milk Drive up to $20k and $10k! No purchase necessary! #AD
I state this so bluntly, and up front, in this post because I feel that is the star of this communication- the real driving force to this post.

It's something anyone can do, especially if you live in California, and it really requires no effort to help give back. The Real California Milk name gets a little exposure and families recovering from recent natural disasters get much needed dairy staples provided through the Great American Milk Drive. It's pretty simple.
But I have a slight gear to grind-

Many of the people sharing this message find the need to include it in a recipe post.

Sure, your blog is all about beautifully shot recipes that drive your Pinterest traffic and click-thru revenue. Yes, you feel strongly that every piece of content on your site should have added value. But are you really getting the messaging out there? In so much content it feels like an afterthought the seal in a single styled photo here, the charitable aspect called out at the very end, or somewhere in the middle. A post title that speaks to the recipe only. You've been taught all of this is necessary for SEO, to pay your bills, to make an income.

But the point here should be that anyone can support this cause without the impulse to buy products for a tasty recipe. In fact people should consider they probably have what they need to help in their home already.
#SealsForGood Share Real California Milk Seals now through 12/31 with the hashtag #SealsForGood and a $5 donation will be made to help FL and TX hurricane, and CA wildfire relief efforts by the Great American Milk Drive up to $20k and $10k! No purchase necessary! #AD
I want my readers to know they don't need a recipe to go out and snap a photo of a Real California Milk Seal- sure you can find hundreds here on the blog with plenty of ingredients that sport the RCM seal. The seal is found on everything from yogurt, cottage cheese, hard and sliced cheese, liquid milk products, and more.

But the point really needs to be that if you live in California and consume dairy you probably have a product with the Real California Milk seal in your fridge already- and, if not, you can easily support the cause on your next shopping trip. It takes less than 2 minutes.
#SealsForGood Share Real California Milk Seals now through 12/31 with the hashtag #SealsForGood and a $5 donation will be made to help FL and TX hurricane, and CA wildfire relief efforts by the Great American Milk Drive up to $20k and $10k! No purchase necessary! #ADI'm not normally this direct, but charity is something I feel passionate about, especially when the average excuse a person gives as to why they haven't given back or helped is that they don't know how to, or don't have the time or resources. I've solves both of the above with this post. In fact donations will continue to be triggered every time a Real California Milk Seal photo appears on social media with the hashtag #SealsForGood now through 12/31/2017 (or until donation caps have been met) so the entire family can get involved. Why not make it a game to spot and share the seal?
#SealsForGood Share Real California Milk Seals now through 12/31 with the hashtag #SealsForGood and a $5 donation will be made to help FL and TX hurricane, and CA wildfire relief efforts by the Great American Milk Drive up to $20k and $10k! No purchase necessary! #AD
As someone who lives a stones-throw away from much of the recent California Wildfire damage, and has friends impacted by it, I cannot be more passionate about supporting this #SealsForGood initiative. This time of the year we are all quite busy, but we are also in and out of the grocery store preparing to entertain family and friends. Let's all take a moment to help and give back!
#SealsForGood Share Real California Milk Seals now through 12/31 with the hashtag #SealsForGood and a $5 donation will be made to help FL and TX hurricane, and CA wildfire relief efforts by the Great American Milk Drive up to $20k and $10k! No purchase necessary! #AD
Did I mention that I've even spotted the Real California Milk seal on ice cream in the frozen case of my local grocer? Does helping to give back get much sweeter? Yea, you can say I was pretty proud of my efforts to support the #SealsForGood efforts, and may have treated myself to a little reward. The entire family truly has gotten in on this- even Gidget is excited to spot the seal on a new dairy item!

Here's specifically what you need to now to continue to help these efforts:
  • If you are using Facebook, tag @RealCaliforniaMilk AND use the hashtag #SealsForGood. 
  • If you are using Instagram, tag @RealCalifMilk AND use the hashtag #SealsForGood
  • For all other platforms upload your photo with the #SealsForGood hashtag.
You have until 12/31/17 to get those Real California Milk seal photos shared, so no excuses, okay? For every submission Real California Milk will donate $5 to the Great American Milk Drive (up to $20,000) to help families affected by hurricane Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida. No purchase necessary.
You'll find plenty of dairy infused recipes on the blog and our Pinterest to inspire you to get in the store and snapping those photos- but, remember- you don't need to actually buy anything to help out!

Gifts For The Whole Family For Less Than $40

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DoingThe99 #99YourHoliday #CollectiveBias
Take the challenge and find gifts for the entire family on a budget of just $40 #DoingThe99 #99YourHoliday #AD
Growing up holiday shopping was always certain to 1.) begin as early as Januray when taking advantage of post-holiday sales, and 2.) involve a very strict budget. Looking back I don't think it's because Momma was cheap, I rather think she enjoyed keeping herself to such guardrails. The thrill of shopping with a price cap in mind was a sort of game for her, and the lower she could drive the price on amazing finds the more fun she would have.

Naturally, shopping on a budget is a good idea regardless of your means or income- The holidays are filled with wonderful opportunities to spend money. There are Sugar Plum Fairy shows, your neice's school fundraiser, those red buckets outside every grocery store door, fabulous ugly sweaters to buy, hostess gifts to be given, delicious food to indulge in, snow chains for tires to be bought, and so much more. So, in the spirit of Momma's little budget game, and in the interest of padding my wallet for unexpected holiday events, I headed to my local 99 Cents Only Store.
Holiday decorations began hitting our 99's shelves immediately after Halloween had passed, but the 99 is full of wonderful gift ideas and home decor items every day of the year. Of course the elves at the 99 have conveniently gathered some of their favorite picks in an aisle adjacent to the holiday decor, for the convenience of shoppers. In that magical aisle you'll find gift sets, Disney brand toys, winter wear, stockings stuffed with pet treats, and so much more. It's definitely a great place to start when you want to grab a few high quality gifts on a budget. Of course you can also get creative and take advantage of the 99's everyday inventory to make your own gift baskets, too!
Take the challenge and find gifts for the entire family on a budget of just $40! #DoingThe99 #99YourHoliday #AD
For the purpose of my experiment I set my budget at $40, and my goal to buy gifts for an entire family- a family consisting of at minimum a mother, father, son, daughter, and pet. I'll admit the hardest part about this challenge wasn't staying in budget, it was choosing only 1 or 2 items for each person on my list. I found so many wonderful gift options for every single category! I could only imagine if I was really going all out and spending $20 a person- what a wonderfully generous holiday that would bring!
#DoingThe99 #99YourHoliday #AD
While I wandered the aisles it was impossible not to add a few extra decorations, entertaining supplies, and wrapping paper/bows into my cart.  I didn't count them on my bottom line, but the convenience of being able to pick up fresh fruit for my upcoming party, as well as adorable gift bags, while doing my holiday gift shopping was truly priceless. Shopping the 99 is always like a fun scavenger hunt, in the sense that new deals are always being added and can be found around every corner (toy mountain case in point)- but the physical store layout is also quite clean and easy to navigate. This means I can wander simply to shop, or get in and grab what I need and get out, at any time.
Affordable holiday gifts on a budget at the 99. #DoingThe99 #99YourHoliday #AD
It's hard to miss the selection of toys and gift sets for children- The office supply aisle has a wide variety of coloring and art gift packs, while the seasonal aisle features some of the hottest characters and brands for kids. My store also had a secondary feature for seasonal specialty toy selections in the form of a giant mountain next to the produce department. For a long time I wrestled between grabbing a 4' Basketball Hoop Set or the Boxing Bag and Gloves Set shown above. Both were priced at jut $3.99!
The 99 has toys for every age group from toddler to teen- there were many licensed dolls for girls including My Little Pony and Disney's Descendants as well as Disney's Inside Out plush characters, Star Wars action figures, and more. For tweens there were many creative kits from building your own stuffed animal to jewelry making and craft kits. For the picky teenager in your life you'll find character clutch wallets, cosmetics gift sets and plenty of tech gadgets like Bluetooth emoji headphones. I picked up a graphic clutch wallet for just $1.99 that my 13 year-old niece would absolutely love!
Shopping for men in any store is generally tough- they can be so hard to pin down. However, I immediately spotted a Basketball Hoop Trash Bin ($1.99) when I entered the door and knew exactly what I wanted to gift for the man of the house. The 99 has an entire aisle dedicated to snacks that would be perfect for any sports fan's game time festivities. I grabbed a few favorites such as Slim Jim, Lay's Stax chips, a Rockstar energy drink, Cracker Jacks, and a new pair of lounge pants to complete my sports fan gift basket gift.
Make a sports fan gift basket for under $10 at 99 Cents Only Stores! #DoingThe99 #99YourHoliday #AD
Making gift baskets at the 99 is always fun and affordable. I'd pay $4-$8 for a good gift basket at many other stores. The 99 is full of decorative bins and tubs that are not only durable and affordable but can double as a functional item long after the gift has been received. Once you have your 'basket' chosen all that's left is to decide on a theme and shop the thousands of deals at the 99 to fill it!
While my mission was to gift an entire family under $40, it was impossible for other things not to 'fall' into my cart. There is inspiration around every corner at the 99, especially if you follow them on social media such as Facebook and Instagram where they are constantly sharing their shoppers ideas and finds. I spotted some cute glass mugs, sparkly winder decal stickers, pipe cleaners, and light up necklaces and had an instant stroke of brilliance. This year at our holiday gatherings I would host an Ugly Sweater Drink Table.
Create an ugly weater drink station for holiday gatherings at the 99! #DoingThe99 #99YourHoliday #AD
The Ugly Sweater Drink Station is quite an easy concept, really- pull out all of those old mismatched glasses (or buy new ones at the 99), grab some holiday decals, pom poms, ornaments, light up holiday jewelry and more from your 99 and let guests go wild making the ugliest sweater glass they can. Not only is it fun to see guests walking around with their ugly sweater glass creation in hand, it's a great holiday tradition all ages can get involved in. My favorite drink for my ugly sweater mug also happens to be sold at the 99- Sparkling ICE, which happens to come in some great festive colors!
Another thing that wasn't on my gift list, but had to come home with me was a D.I.Y Paw Print Ornament kit for just $1.99 at my local 99 Cents Only Store. This little kit required no mixing and had enough pre-made dough to make 3 ornaments (1 for each of our pets). It was the perfect task to time out from wrapping gifts and really quite painless (unless you were the unsuspecting pet having your paw pressed into clay). There was a pretty big stock of these at our 99, and I just might go back and grab more for gifts for the neighbors!
Pet Ornament Kit for just $1.99 at 99 Cents Only Stores! #DoingThe99 #99YourHoliday #AD
I just love how our handmade clay ornaments turned out- and they took far less time than traditional salt dough, and even cost less than most dough ornament recipe ingredients combined! It's little discoveries like these that make shopping at the 99 such a fun adventure, and keep me walking through the door multiple times a week. You just never know what you'll find at the 99!
Now would be a purrfect time to share what I picked up for the pet on my fictional family's list- There were many items in the 99 pet aisle intended to spoil felines, but a few stood out as seasonal specials. I was able to nab a 20oz value size jug of Truffle's favorite Friskies cat treats for just $2.99! I also spotted some cardboard cat scratchers for just $1.99!
Make this fun pet treat dispenser fur just $4 at your local 99 Cents Only Stores! #DoingThe99 #99YourHoliday #AD
Naturally Truffles is spoiled and I couldn't just gift her a plain jug of treats- so I found a little inspiration in the snack and candy aisle at the 99. For $3.99 I bought an adorable candy machine to put all of those delicious treats in. It was the perfect decor accent for a crazy-cat-lady with a sense of fun and funky style and really helped spoil the pets like our kids.
#DoingThe99 #99YourHoliday #AD
Last, but not least was the mother on my shopping list. There were many gifting directions to go from gardening supplies and beautiful living flowers to perfume gift sets and new bath slippers. When I spotted an end cap of candle pillars, however, I knew that was the perfect gift. My 99 has a large selection of various size candles and I was easily able to pick up 3 matching pillar candles to gift with it. A fabulous gift that cost me less than $12 in total, and looked as though it had easily cost me $40 alone!
Now anyone can shop gifts on a budget- pinching pennies isn't the real test, it's making those pinched pennies turn into valued items that the recipient truly loves. I was impressed with not just the variety of gifts I was able to find, but the quality from the name brand products to the general home decor. What it comes down to is that I would never give a gift I wouldn't love to have, myself, and every single item I brought home from the 99 could easily have a place in my home. The true triumph of my challenge wasn't the $40 budget for an entire family it was finding real gifts I'd be proud to give any of my friends of family!

Still need a little holiday inspiration? Discover more amazing 99 gift and entertaining ideas on the 99 Cents Only Stores Social Hub! Visit my local 99 on Facebook  for some fun local finds!