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How can it be possible that the holidays are nearly upon us? Summer flew by at breakneck speed, followed by a whirlwind fall, and now we find Thanksgiving perched on our doorstep. Once we push back from dinner – we’ll jump feet first into gift-giving season. So what better time to unveil the 2014 Mom Central Holiday Gift Guide For the next month, we’ll roll out cool, clever, and creative gift items for everyone on your list – offering you a non-stop selection of gift ideas. As an added bonus, we’ll feature a selection of giveaway items throughout the Gift Guide where you can enter for a chance to win.
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Influence Central received a complimentary Mensch On A Bench in order to facilitate this review. All of the opinions expressed are our own. As this holiday season swiftly approaches, we seek out fun, family-centered activities and laughs that turn into treasured family memories. Celebrating holiday family traditions and forming new ones along the way can create that kind of bond that carries on even to the next generation, when your kids will be recounting giggles and memories - and teaching their own kids your distinctive family traditions.
Influence Central received a complimentary copy of FutureChefs: Recipes by Tomorrow’s Cooks Across the Nation and the World in order to facilitate this review. All of the opinions expressed are our own. Gather the cooks in the kitchen this Thanksgiving – including the kids! Cooking together can become family bonding time and also teaches kids the delight and the exciting, hard work of preparing delicious meals to share. FutureChefs: Recipes by Tomorrow’s Cooks Across the Nation and the World by Ramin Ganeshram compiles engaging stories and creative recipes from tween and teen passionate chefs from varying social, cultural, and geographic backgrounds. The cookbook has a collection of 150 sophisticated, unique recipes that kids can make on their own or with help. Some of the recipes show full-page color photographs of the finished meal – others you will have to try and taste. The meals boast a wide array of ingredients, ethnic inspirations, and cooking techniques.
Moms throughout the world share a central value- supporting and caring for their family.  Sometimes amidst the chaos in our own lives we forget that mothers in other countries need more help than we do.  Just putting food on the table can be a challenge for mothers in Njabini, Africa, where opportunities to earn money are scarce.  If you want to help Moms from these other cultures, here’s one way you could make a difference.
A Mom may wish for nothing more than a quiet afternoon this Mother’s Day, looking to escape from the constant go-go-go lifestyle and catch a few hours of serenity. Wind down from your hectic week by swapping chores and carpools for a relaxing day of reading with your child this May 13th. One lucky Mom Central reader will win a “Mommy and Me” Eric Carle-themed prize package, complete with gifts for both Mom and child to relax with. While your child enjoys Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Around the Farm sound book, or the Very Hungry Caterpillar puzzle, you can curl up with one of Penguin’s bestsellers such as The Help, Eat Pray Love, or The Witness. To enter win your own "Mommy and Me" gift pack, leave a comment below by Friday, May 11. The winner will be selected randomly and notified by email. Please note, this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Keep up with the latest news from The World of Eric Carle on Facebook.
This Mother’s Day, give Mom a break and let her indulge in a delicious yet healthy treat from Peeled Snacks. These organic, gluten-free dried fruit snacks allow Mom to enjoy exotic fruits without leaving home. No need to feel guilty after enjoying these all-natural snacks with lots of vitamins and no added sugar. The tropical flavors include Much-ado-about-Mango, Apricot-a-lot, pine-4-pineapple, and more.   Tea Time Gift Tin This giveaway includes an assortment of Peeled Snack multi-serving bags that blend favorite fruit flavors to make Paradise Found (pineapple, mango, and banana), Farmer’s Market Trio (cherries, apples, and raisins), and GoFigure (figs, dates, and apricots). A single-serving bag of each fruit will also be included in this prize so Mom can try all the Peeled Snack flavors. A Tay Tea tin, filled with hand-blended loose tea, completes this package for a perfectly relaxing Mother’s Day gift.
Photo credit: Tip Junkie
Next week, May 7-11, marks National Teacher Appreciation Week. Recognize the educators who influence your kids on a daily basis, and take the time to thank your child’s teacher with a homemade present. A personal gift from you and your child will convey your gratitude, and you can have fun making it! Try one of these ideas or come up with your own way to show appreciation for the educators in your child’s life. S’mores Bag Craft idea from: Tip Junkie Supplies
Image credit: Crafty Children's Librarian blog
Cinco de Mayo commemorates an important day in Mexican history. Introduce your kids to Mexican culture and celebrate the upcoming holiday with your family by making a festive craft that lends itself to artists of any age. These paper maracas provide a fun and easy activity to do around Cinco de Mayo with supplies you have lying around the house.  Let your kids decorate their own maraca and watch their imagination run wild! Using any variety of craft items – including pom poms, glitter, markers, buttons, tissue paper – will make this activity unique each time you do it. Paper Plate Maracas Craft idea from: Crafy Children’s Librarian Supplies
Little girls love to imagine they’re princesses! They try on tiaras, practice their “royal waves”, and wobble around in special shoes. Another fun way to experience being a princess is to read books and watch movies about princesses. To celebrate National Princess Week, we’ve got the perfect bundle of movies and a book to give your little princess the royal treatment!   Three lucky Mom Central readers will win a Princess Pack containing The Princess Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition plus The Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement 2-Movie Collection Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack and The Very Fairy Princess Here Comes the Flower Girl! book. This book is co-authored by Julie Andrews and her daughter and writing partner, Emma Walton Hamilton and published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.  
This week, April 15-21 is National Boys & Girls Club Week! Throughout the week, thousands of Boys & Girls Clubs are opening their doors and inviting the local community in to a catch a first-hand glimpse into all of the activities and opportunities that exist at their Boys & Girls Club. Clubs across the country are holding celebrations by offering picnics, open houses, sporting events and more. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America strive to enable young people to reach their potential as productive, caring citizens. Every day this week correlates to a different Boys & Girls Club theme, from Monday’s “open the door to academic success” to Thursday’s “open the door to healthy lifestyles”.
Congratulations to our first round of Campaign Rockstars! In an effort to call attention to all of the wonderful bloggers we work with, we'll continue to select three bloggers from Mom Central campaigns to be featured on our site as Campaign Rockstars. See our first round of Mom Central Campaign Rockstars from the Old Navy Best Tees Blog Tour below, and stay tuned for future updates!         Kathleen Bunn, Life With 4 Boys LeeAnn Hinken, The Life of Riley...& Bryce, too! Erika Bragdon, Musings From a Stay at Home Mom Thanks Kathleen, LeeAnn & Erika! We love working with you!
The thought of a hot, fresh meal at the end of a long day many times never becomes a reality unless I settle for a frozen dinner that doesn’t really fill me up or a frozen pizza that leaves me feeling guilty. I never really satisfy my craving for wholesome, fresh ingredients unless I dedicate my entire night to cooking a meal.