Or a device that will pet your pets for you, so you don’t have to?
These are some of the hilarious–and FAKE–products “sold” by Prank Pack, a company that makes boxes for nonexistent and ludicrous items. The idea is that you buy the box, put your real gift inside, and then sit back and watch the recipient squirm as she feigns enthusiasm for her “present.”
I attended a White Elephant party over the weekend. Maybe you know them as a Yankee Swap. Basically, you bring a gag gift or a crappy present that has a non-crappy element–maybe a hokey coffee mug with a Starbucks gift card inside. Everyone takes a number and selects a present, but once you choose your gift, it can be “stolen” by someone else (and likewise, you can steal it back, or take someone else’s or a new one altogether). Anyway, I brought the same tacky purse I received at this party the year before, but this time with Dunkin Donuts gift card inside. I packed it in a gift box for a “Family Blankeez,” a Snuggie-style blanket designed to cover an entire group of people, and I was practically beside myself with giddiness as I waited for someone to select my present. When my friend opened it, she thought the blanket was real, just as the creators predicted. She help up the box while everyone laughed at the idea and cracked up at the photos showing people using it in various scenarios such as at a tailgate (“For the big game!”) and at a clothesline (“Couples laundry!”). Meanwhile, I was shouting above the noise, “But it’s fake! It’s not real! It’s not really a blanket! It’s just a joke!” Everyone stopped to process this, and the fascination began anew as the box was passed around the room all over again.
If you’re looking to make a splash with your present–perhaps for all the wrong reasons–then a Prank Pack is for you (they’re $8 each, or 3 for $20, with a $5 shipping fee). At the very least, take a few minutes to check out their site and be sure to look at the photos of the boxes’ details. I guarantee you’ll laugh.
The new Simmons Pampering Nights mattress—green and saves you green!
Dr. Alan Greene, the pediatrician behind the book Raising Baby Green, once told our editors that if you’re only going to make one “green” purchase for your newborn, it should be a crib mattress. His argument was that a baby spends more time sleeping in her crib than anywhere else. Traditional mattresses are covered in a plastic that often contains phthalates. Phthalates are associated with cancer (that’s why they’ve been taken out of so many skincare products) as well as asthma. Crib mattresses are sometimes coated with a toxic fire-retardant, too. Of course, despite all these scary facts, there’s no scientific proof that the chemicals in a crib mattress have ever actually harmed a baby.
But the green-crib mattress movement was born, and Dr. Greene’s enthusiasm for it stuck with us, even though the prices of eco-friendly mattresses used to be prohibitive. The first ones that we saw were from brands such as NaturalMat (NaturalMatUSA.com); they make beautiful, handmade crib mattresses with materials such as organic lambswool and natural latex, and they start at $400. The Nook crib mattress (NookSleep.com) is hands-down the most gorgeous mattress we’ve ever seen; vibrant colors, all natural materials—but $550. Fantastic choices, but only if you can afford them. NaturePedic (NaturePedic.com) seemed like the best bet, pricewise; the mattresses are a high quality, and $260 to $400.
Eventually, lower-priced brands launched greener versions of their crib mattresses. Also, the GreenGuard Environmental Institute stepped in to help make it clear that the products aren’t just being “greenwashed.” GreenGuard is strict about monitoring products for indoor air pollution (GreenGuard.org), so look for their seal of approval on a crib mattress—it’s a big deal. NaturePedic has it, and now so do some even cheaper brands. The Colgate Eco Classica I is $190 (Colgatekids.com). And Simmons now has three GreenGuard-certified crib mattresses: Superior Rest ($130–$150), Pampering Nights ($140–$160), and Sunny Day ($180–$190), now at Amazon.com (buy Pampering Nights here) and coming soon to Babies “R” Us. (Very soon: Look for them on BabiesRUs.com by the time this giveaway ends.) It was the folks at Simmons who turned us onto the fact that you no longer have to pay top dollar to have a crib mattress that’s chemical-free. (And their mattresses are made in Wisconsin; we love things that are American-made!) We’re so excited by all this progress that we’re going to give two of the new Simmons crib mattresses away to some lucky parents!
To enter, just post a comment below between now and the end of the day Tuesday, November 22, 2011, and we’ll randomly choose two winners for a Simmons crib mattress (which will also fit a toddler bed). For full rules, click here. Goody luck!
Yay! Over the weekend I was able to ditch one more kid-related piece of equipment. Two, actually–the stepstools in our bathrooms. Thanks to a nifty little device called the Aqueduck, my girls can now wash their hands without needing to be boosted up to reach the faucet. Aqueduck is a lightweight plastic and rubber gadget that attaches to your faucet in two seconds and creates a kind of slide for the water to run down and out. The photo explains it better than I can!
Admittedly, if my daughters were a little smaller, they’d still need the stool to turn on the handles. But this is still a problem-solving product for anyone with a child old enough to wash his hands. It promotes independence and makes hand-washing a smidge more exciting–which is especially useful as we head into cold and flu season. And by the way, I think there should be Aqueducks in every kid-friendly restaurant. Imagine not having to hoist and dangle your child over the sink while manning the faucets and the soap dispenser and trying to avoid pressing her entire midsection into the counter?!
This time of year, moms ask environmental lifestyle expert Danny Seo how to “green up” their lunch routine. Here are Danny’s tips on packing a waste- and hassle-free, organic lunch for kids.
1. Pack Self Wrapped Fruits
Apples, bananas, and pears are good, fresh fruits to pack whole in kids’ lunches. They don’t need wrappers or extra containers to hold up well in a lunch box. If you do pack cut fruit, consider making a pouch using aluminum foil. The foil can be crumpled and tossed into the recycling bin.
2. Low Impact Lunch Bags
Moms have a few options when it comes to how they pack lunch. They can invest in a cute reusable lunch bag. (Make sure it’s machine washable since food-borne germs can build up over time.) They can also save clean used Ziploc bags and recycle them at any grocery store that accepts plastic shopping bags.
3. Going Green Can Save You Green
Danny’s favorite website is Recyclebank.com, a free online community where mom can learn lots of great ways to go green each day. As an added bonus, when families pledge to be more sustainable, the site rewards you with points which can be traded in for coupons.
Visit Danny’s eco-friendly blog, Daily Danny, for more tips on creatively living green.
Last weekend we drove 2 ½ hours to visit friends, and for the first time, my 6-year-old daughter, Jane, didn’t ask “How much longer?” every 10 minutes. Why? I finally bought us an audiobook. As the mother of a 17-year-old too, you’d think I would have tried this trick for car trips before, but somehow I never had. The assistant principal at Jane’s school had recently suggested it to a group of parents (she and her daughters had listened to Beverly Cleary’s entire Ramona series in the car) and I decided it was time to try it. The audiobook I bought was Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, which I thought be a good one because it’s comprised of individual stories. Jane loved it! After a couple of stories, my husband was ready to turn on the radio, but she insisted that we keep listening. Unfortunately, CD audiobooks aren’t cheap, so I’m going to investigate some of the rental and downloading services (Simply Audiobooks, Booksfree.com, Audible) to see who has the best and most reasonably priced selection of children’s books. Have you had success with any of these? Favorite books to listen to?
Are you a mom with a great kid-inspired idea or product solution that you just know is destined for success? If so, April could be your lucky month! For the second year in a row, Huggies is helping moms like you take ideas from your memorable parenting moments and make them a reality with the Huggies MomInspired™ Grant Program. The theory? Nobody does a better job figuring out what parents need than those who are with their little one daily!
Beginning on the 14th of April, 2011 and spanning the course of 11 weeks (until June 30), you will be able to visit the Huggies MomInspired™ site and apply for a grant to begin the start-up business of your dreams. You never know– your creativity might just land you some serious cash!
If you’re in need of a little inspiration, be sure to check out the amazingly unique ideas from last year’s grant recipients. From a spill-proof training cup and a device that relieves the stress and pain of child vaccinations, to an online tool that helps moms balance their busy lives and an organized system for on-the-go parents with children on oxygen, each winner received $15,000. See rules and more important info on the grant program here. Good luck!
In the March issue of Parents, we told you about a cool site that lets you easily back-up all of your computer files online. Now MiMedia is offering our readers a special discount code for 30-percent off. Just click here, pick one of the plans, and enter “parents” into the promo-code box to get started. And then you’re ready to begin backing up your irreplaceable photos, documents, videos, and other media on your own protected, easy-to-access online account. The best part is you can share your home videos or play the songs from your music library on any computer by logging into your MiMedia account. Check out the below video to see how it works:
Visit MiMedia for more details, and note: The discount code is only good for a month, so be sure to use it by March 7th.
You want to support your little budding artists, but the amount of artwork is taking over every inch of your storage space.
A recent New York Times article noted a growing dilemma among parents–where (or how) to store all the glittery scribbles their children produce at school, at home, and just about everywhere. Some parents ruthlessly edit or surreptitiously discard less-inspired artwork, intent on keeping the home uncluttered while teaching their kids not to be sentimental pack rats.
Other parents, however, can’t bear to part with their children’s drawings and paintings (no matter how banal), preferring to find creative storage or display solutions. Still others have discovered the savvy (but time-consuming) solution of scanning all their children’s artwork onto a computer and compiling a digital scrapbook.