If you are looking for uncommon gifts, you may just find them at UncommonGoods! I was lucky enough to be able to choose a gift for Aiden this holiday season, which he in turn was lucky enough to play with before Christmas! It took me a long time to narrow my list down from all the wonderful options at UncommonGoods, but I’m happy to share with you some of my Top Uncommon Gifts for Kids, as well as a review of the two toys we received.
Uncommon Gifts for Kids
- Pallina - as pictured with the family on the left, the goal of this game by Hape is to remove the colour sticks without letting your own coloured balls fall. This was an easy game to introduce and offered us a fun alternative to board games during family game time. Aiden loved how hands on the game was and it’s a quick game to play several times. It’s definitely a little larger than I expected though!
- Ogobild Hub - as pictured with Aiden on the top right, the Ogobild Hub is a construction toy with endless possibilities. Add feet, wheels, loops, propellers and more! Although at first the pieces are hard to put in, your little engineer will soon be inspired to create endless creatures and contraptions. Aiden quickly moved past his desire to create a creature exactly like on the box, which he’s yet to do with Lego. I call this a win!
- Custom Book Adventure – create a custom pirate adventure or a custom fairy book with your child’s name, hair colour, home town and more. How cute is that?! This is one of my top picks for next year!
- Storymatic for Kids or Rory’s Story Cubes – bring out the creativity in your kids by encouraging storytelling with prompt cards or blocks. I think these games could get many years of play, which is hard to come by. This is a for sure gift for next year from us!
- Make Your Own Snowglobe - I’m a little obsessed with DIY projects, so I love this kit. If your child likes to make things with Play-Doh or clay, I think they’d be ready for this kit.
- Stormy Seas Balancing Game – we have a similar game with a sailboat and it’s fun to challenge problem-solving on where to balance the items. Nothing complex – just a quick game.
UncommonGoods was founded in 1999 in NewYork and endeavours to feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts that are environmentally friendly – half of what is sold is made by hand, and a third is recycled or up-cycled. I spent a lot of time browsing the website wishing I hadn’t already finished my Christmas shopping! Luckily, I added a few ideas to next year’s list (and yes, I do have an app for that).
If you are looking for some unique Christmas gifts, particularly some funky stocking stuffers or other gifts for women, you may just find them at UncommonGoods. If you have read my Guys’ Guide to Stocking Stuffers and are still searching for the right gifts, check out this scarf and the Storymatic game – both of which fit my stocking stuffer tips!
Disclosure: We received toys for review, the opinions of which are my own. I was not asked to create a list post or in any way promote additional goods. I just like them!
October is the time of year when I start to plan ahead for the Holiday season for our family: buying gifts, having our photo taken, and planning our holiday cards. One of our first holiday cards featured a family photo we took at the pumpkin patch as the colours and lighting at this time of year make for great photo cards. Last year, we made up our holiday cards with one of the great designs from the Minted Christmas Card Collection with the photos taken by Sarah Jane Photography. We’ll be doing the same thing this year.
I have been making photo cards since Aiden was born, starting with his birth announcement and our first family photo card. I have used several services for photo cards (4 in total) and each year I spend many hours trying to find a design that I think is both tasteful and unique. You really don’t want to know how many hours I spent last year looking at dozens of services before our photographer mentioned Minted!
I loved that the site offers hundreds of designs with an incredible amount of customization options: number of photos, colours, shapes, flat or folded, type of paper, matching envelopes, or postcard format. All of their cards are printed on card stock, which makes them stand out a little more from the standard photo paper. The prices were comparable, but no other company offered the same fresh designs that I was seeing at Minted. Here’s the card we created for 2012, which had a custom holiday message on the back in postcard-format.
We used the Wish Banner design for our holiday card. While I was placing the order, I (finally) got around to making Damien’s birth announcement card (which I sent with the holiday cards) and also made 3 calendars featuring photos of our boys for gifts for the family. The calendars come in a variety of sizes (I used a larger spiral bound one that would hang well on the fridge) and you can customize not only images but dates too! I was able to add in personalized dates such as birthdays and anniversaries!
Whether you’re doing family photo cards or just want to send out something with some flair, Minted offers some great inspiration boards to get you planning! I love the idea of mixing up some holiday accent photos in with the family photos like this card – I may have to try that for this year!
I hope this post inspires you to be creative with your holiday cards and gifts!
Disclosure: I received some Minted credit in exchange for this post, though the opinions are my own. I actually had “Review Minted” up on my Editorial calendar for a long time, but time just got away from me and I missed the window of relevance for last year!
During our stay at the Cove Lakeside Resort in Kelowna, we visited the on-site hotel restaurant, The Bonfire Restaurant, for a family dinner, a family breakfast and a date-night dinner thanks to the concierge babysitting services of the hotel.
The restaurant is well laid out, with both a lounge area and a main restaurant eating area, which expands onto a large patio. The menu at the restaurant is quite large, featuring a mostly high-end eating experience for all the meals with very large portions.
For my first lunch, I had a pizza with a wide variety of toppings including boar bacon, roasted garlic and “goatgonzola” – though I found the blue cheese a little overwhelming, it was nonetheless quite good and served me well for more than one meal! I wasn’t a huge fan of the hummus, but I’m quite picky about that.
The kids both shared a single meal of chicken fingers and fries. Though I would have liked a kids menu, particularly with more healthy options like grilled chicken, this is a common food most restaurants will have for kids.
Our breakfast at the restaurant was quite good – the pancakes were enough to share between myself and Aiden and the hash browns are totally undersold on the menu – slices potatoes all crisp and lovely.
For our date night, we moved beyond the quicker fare to have something more sophisticated. I enjoyed a buttery delicious ahi tuna poke cocktail with mango and macadamia nuts followed by the ravioli. Despite the long wait times for our food, we loved every bite. Due to the long waits during our dinner, we had to have our dessert sent back to our room – not a bad option, in the end!
Given that this is your only dining option without taking a car off the Cove Lakeside property, it’s great to have a diverse and fresh menu like the one here.
See the photos from some of our meals here. You can follow along with my Kelowna posts here.
After many hours sitting in the car for the drive from North Vancouver to Kelowna, we were more than glad to dump our stuff down in our suite at the Cove Lakeside Resort. When we arrived, our room was all ready for us, including our rentals from The Tiny Tourist Baby Equipment Service, which supplies baby and toddler equipment across the Okanagan.
Our hotel was happy to supply a pack & play crib for Damien, but did recommend this service as an option. Knowing we don’t travel a whole lot, and we were going to be there a week, I though Damien would be far more comfortable in a crib. While I was perusing their site, I came across the bed rail option and knew we had to have that for Aiden too! Though he would have a large bed, he still moves a fair bit and he actually fell out of his bed in Victoria last summer!
Aside from their sleep options such as cribs in various sizes and the sleep rails, you can rent a variety of products for your trip including a wide variety of strollers, monitors and gates, high chairs and even toys! The “tub of toys” in particular is customized for the age, gender and interest of your kids, including toys, puzzles, books, bath toys and more! Pretty amazing idea.
As you can see, our kids had no trouble sleeping in the hotel! Damien missed his first nap in the hotel, being thrown off by the experience in the car and being asked to nap so soon after arrival, but after some initial protest at night, he went right to sleep. He woke up once during the night that first night when we made too much noise joining him, but otherwise he was great! Both kids woke about an hour earlier than normal each morning in the hotel, probably as much to do with the sun as with anything!
As you can see, the crib was a big hit with both kids! Aiden loves to play with Damien after his naps.
Disclosure: we received a discount on this service. All opinions in this review are my own.
For our recent family vacation to Kelowna, we stayed at the Cove Lakeside Resort in West Kelowna. West Kelowna is about 10 minutes outside of the main areas in Kelowna, though it still boasts lakeside properties and convenient amenities including close driving access to shopping and restaurants. The hotel is nestled right next to the historic Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park and offers a serene aspect of Kelowna away from the hustle and bustle of the main thoroughfares in Kelowna proper.
If you are an active runner or enjoy long walks, you couldn’t ask for a more breathtaking area to visit! Whether you walk through the nut farm or go in the other direction along the newly created lakeside boardwalk, it’s a stunning view!
Cove Lakeside Overall Impression
Our goal in this family vacation was to find a hotel that offered the resort feel we’ve come to appreciate with family vacations: beach access, large pools, good restaurant facility, on-site activities, and family-friendly suites for extended stays. I’m pleased to say that the Cove Lakeside exceeded our expectations in many regards!
Had the weather been nicer for our whole stay, we probably would have spent more of our 6 days staying on the property, alternating between time in the pools, time at the beach, and time at the playground. It’s a perfect spot for kids. Thanks to the weather, we ventured out to play a little bit of tourist, but mostly giving the kids some opportunities to burn some energy at kid friendly attractions in Kelowna.
The Cove Lakeside features many high-end resort features such as a spa (I had a lovely pedicure!), fitness centre, an in-house movie theatre for 16, fine dining at The Bonfire restaurant, fire pits and of course the private beach and large pool area. If you’re looking for a getaway for your family, or a home base for taking some wine tours, you can’t ask for a more relaxing spot.
Resort tip: if you want to use the fire pits when they are not on, just ask at the front desk for them to be lit. The front desk also has marshmallow sticks, so be sure to bring your marshmallows!
The hotel offers many different room options, from standard studio rooms to 3 bedroom suites. We stayed in a walk-out 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom suite that had a huge patio and stairs right to the private beach and pool areas. I can’t tell you how convenient this was for us! The walk-out room allowed us to easily come and go with Aiden without taking a room key while one of us stayed close by with Damien during his naps. I do wish the room key worked on the patio door though!
Our suite featured a full kitchen, including everything you’d need to cook most meals. We stocked up the kitchen with a lot of food, to minimize the number of times we’d have to eat out or go off property. We cooked a lot and were additionally pleased to be able to use the communal BBQs in the main courtyard to prepare some burgers and chicken! What a treat!
With kids that go to bed early (typically before 7), it is challenging to arrange sleeping arrangements in most hotels. With the 2 bedroom suite, we were able to separate the children, with Aiden in the bigger bedroom (since it also has a pull-out couch) and Damien in the master bedroom with us. We hoped this would keep them from waking each other up before 6, but they invariably woke up not long past 5 each day. Darn sunlight! With the kids in their own rooms, we were able to kick back to enjoy a glass of Okanagan wine while reading or watching tv. Though I found the bed a little hard, I could have lived on that couch and seriously considered bringing it home ;)
Hotel Amenities of note: The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, a children’s club in high season for kids over age 4, and babysitting services for a surcharge. We made use of these services for a date night at the hotel restaurant during our stay!
Beach & Pools
We were in the pool at least once a day, rain or shine. On the days where the rain held off, we spent most of our days in the water! Aiden came a long way in regaining his confidence in the water. He loved going from the “big pool with the kid side” to the hot tub and to the smaller pool with the water slide. Though Aiden didn’t get up the courage to try the water slide (technically he’s too young anyway), Mom and Dad both enjoyed it! The pools featured ample deck chairs for lounging and a bar, though it wasn’t open during our stay.
The property features a private beach as well as the pool area, though the beach is quite small. Given that the temperature wasn’t very warm, we didn’t swim in the lake during our stay, though we did make use of our buckets and shovels in the sand a few times.
Disclosure: our family received a discount for our stay at this hotel. All opinions are my own. Photos are our own – see more hotel photos here - except for the wide angle of the pools. You can follow along with my Kelowna posts here.