Packing for Vacation – Summer Packing Series #3

Welcome back to my summer packing series! Today I’m going to share my tips for how I pack for a beach vacation!  If you haven’t checked out my other articles in this series, I’ve shared my tips for packing make-up for vacation, as well as what I pack in my beach bag!

Make a list

The worst thing to do is just wing it and start throwing random items into your suitcase.  You could easily get distracted and forget something important.  Remember you want your vacation to be relaxing so don’t add stress to your life by leaving something you really want at home.  I pack for myself and my son so thinking about where we are going, what we will be doing and what the weather will be help me to start writing out the items that need to be included.

Use interchangeable clothing items

I found a company called Vacay Style that takes the stress out of packing!  They sell interchangeable clothing pieces that, when you add some basics, like a white tank top and white jeans, will have you set for a week-long trip!  For example, I bought the Seychelles 2 piece romper, part of the Seychelles collection. They can be worn together for one outfit, but the top can be paired with shorts or jeans for another outfit, and the shorts can be paired with another shirt for a third outfit!  The quality of the material is very high and the pieces wash well.

 

I also have the St. Kitts Convertible dress, part of the St. Kitts collection.  By itself it is a strapless maxi dress, but the top can be folded down so it can be worn as a skirt with a different top.  Genius!  They also sell entire 5 piece collections that can be interchanged to make between 15-18 outfits.  Now that’s what I call smart packing!

 

 

Leave some room for souveniers

I always like to leave a little room in the suitcase for any souveniers we may buy on the trip.  If you are going somewhere requiring air travel, this becomes even more important

What to bring vs. purchase there

Typically, my family rents a condo at the Jersey Shore for the week.  oftentimes, that means that bedding, towels, and paper goods (tissues, paper towels, toilet paper) may not be supplied as in a hotel.  Typically we purchase the paper goods along with snacks and other items we will use during the week at a local market at our destination vs. packing them in our car on the way down.  That is just our personal preference.  If it’s your first time renting a place like that, I would inquire what is supplied so that you can make your plan.  If traveling with young children, this is important also.  Many places offer crib rentals or linen service you can take advantage of if you do not want the hassle of bringing your own.  If you want to bring bicycles or pool toys, I’d recommend checking with the renters on any rules/policies for that.  Where we stay, we cannot store bicycles or any beach/pool toys in our unit.

Have a great trip!

Wherever your destination this summer, have a wonderful trip!  If you are going somewhere warm, I hope my other articles in this series (Packing Makeup for vacation and What’s in my beach bag?) help get you prepared and ready for a great time!  By taking the stress and guesswork out of packing, you can focus on enjoying the people you are with and the wonderful things you will experience on your travels!  I would love to hear your comments on any packing tips you use.

 

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of those products, I receive a small commission.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I appreciate your support of this blog if you do decide to try some of the products!

Blogger Recognition Award and Six Month Blogaversary!

 

This week is all about celebration!  First, I received a nomination for the Blogging Recognition Award.  Next, it has been six months since my site has been live!  Boy did that go fast, but I’ve been loving every minute of this journey.  If you’ve been reading from the start, Thank you!  If you’ve just started reading, Thank you!  I hope you will all keep reading for the next six months and beyond!  I am running a giveaway to celebrate all this excitement.  Please take a minute and enter for your chance to win a $100 Sephora gift card.  The giveaway will run until August 22, 2017.  Good luck!

Thanks to Cassie from cassiesBIGAdventure.com for the nomination.  I feel so grateful to be noticed.  This process has been great, not only because of the recognition but because I’ve had an opportunity to explore so many other blogs in different niches that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and experiencing.

 Why did I start blogging?
So I recently celebrated six months of blogging – it’s been a fun adventure so far.  It has been much more complex than I expected with a pretty steep learning curve, but I am loving it!  I left my corporate job last year and decided to take a couple of years off to take care of some family business.  I have always loved writing and decided to use this time to launch my blog and invest some time into making it successful.  There is still a lot to learn, but I am embracing the process of learning and challenging myself to keep at it!
What have I learned in the past 6 months?
1.  Don’t go into this venture expecting to make big money – my motto has definitely been slow and steady wins the race!  There are a lot of blogs out there promising big profits but that is not the reality.  However, I do think there are some good tips to take from other blogs out there as you are learning to grow your blog.  All the advice can be overwhelming – start with small, manageable goals and focus on them first!
2.  Stay true to yourself and why you are blogging!  You need to blog with a purpose and have a topic that you are passionate about.  Stay true to that as you embark on your blogging journey!
 Here are my nominations for the Blogging Recognition Award! 
These blogs each have something very special that I enjoyed – from interesting topics to breathtaking photographs and everything in between.  I hope you’ll check them out!
 Directions for the nominees:
 Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
Write a post to show your award
Give a brief story of how your blog started
Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to
Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.
Celebrate!
I hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer and thanks for sharing this milestone with me!  Don’t forget to get in on that giveaway!

How to Plan a Child’s Birthday Party in the Summer

So my son just turned 5 – I know it’s cliché but I can’t believe how fast time flies.  I still remember him as a newborn in the hospital!  But, for this milestone, I decided it was time that he enjoy a birthday party with his friends.  However, knowing that his birthday is in the summer, when school is out, my fear of no one coming because of vacations, etc.  made me almost decide to not do it.  In the end, I decided to go for it and here is how I kept things organized:

Venue– There are so many different places that host children’s parties these days, there is a good chance you can find one that meets your family’s needs.  The key to finding the right fit is to think about what your child enjoys.  Also, what is your comfort level having a party at your home vs. out somewhere?  In my case, I preferred to have it out (less clean up, etc.)

Date and Day – What I learned is that this really matters!  I talked to a lot of moms about this as I was planning because my fear was that no one would be able to come to the party due to vacations, etc.  After all, it’s the summer!  What I was advised and what ended up working well, was to have it on a Friday evening.  In this scenario, you could still have people come as most vacation travel would be on Saturday or Sunday.  For the working parents, it is still late enough to be able to get there.  Of course, I think it would be unrealistic to expect high attendance in the summer in general, but I think that a Friday evening is a good way to try to mitigate that.

Dinosaurs were our theme.

Theme– I think it is nice to have a theme for a child’s birthday party.  It helps to bring together invites, decorations and gives some insight into what your child is interested in.  Places like Party City, Target  or Michaels are great places to get ideas and they have a lot of cute merchandise available to help you.  In my case we went with a dinosaur theme since John has been obsessed with these creatures for the past year.

Getting the word out – This was another challenge for me.  I did not have any contact information for any of the children in John’s class, so I couldn’t send evites or anything like that.  What I ended up doing was sending paper invites with John at school in June toward the end of the school year (his birthday was in July) and asking the teacher to send each child home with an invitation.

I really enjoyed using personalized favors for the kids.

Favors – This was a tough one.  Usually a trip to the dollar store or WalMart can give you some ideas of trinkets that kids in whatever age group you are looking at will enjoy, but I wanted to give something that was less junky and a little more personalized.  (This was also easier to do as I had a smaller group at the party.)  I remembered an awesome favor John received at our friend’s daughter’s party a few years back, which I found and ordered online through outrageouspartyfavors.com.  It’s a small business run by Cheryl out of Long Island.  Cheryl was great and even made some quick additions to my order without a beat.  Each child received a water bottle with his/her name on it.  Also there are a couple blank ones included in the order for any last minute attendees and they are really cute as well.

Food– with kids, I think it’s best to keep it simple, so for us it was pizza and cake.  When ordering, be sure to include the parents in your headcount also!  If you are at a total loss about what to order and how much to order, most party venues will be able to assist and make recommendations.

Decorations – Once you’ve set your theme, it will help to brainstorm decorations.  Some venues will supply paper products (for a fee usually) but tablecloths, signs, balloons, cups and plates can easily be bought at a party store.

Showtime!  I think that with any event, the more organized and planned it is the better.  The only regret I had with this party was really my own fault and it’s because I am so bad with taking pictures.  I was good about taking pictures during the party and got a family shot of us with John and his cake but I forgot to get a group shot of John and all his friends who came to the party.  Bad mommy!  So if you are bad at pictures like me, I’d recommend putting together a list of pictures you want before the party and then make sure you get them during the party.  If you have a friend or family member you can put in charge of this, even better!

The venue added a nice touch with our welcome sign!

John had a great time and, at the end of the day, that’s really the reason we host these parties.  I feel very lucky that he has really nice friends who have great parents.   Happy party planning!