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Alberta Mama’s Givemas


We wanted to do something a little different this year, a sort of pay it forward for all the hardworking people in your life, and thus Givemas was born.

Coolest part? We’re only featuring Albertan businesses!

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Stress-Free Holiday Gatherings

Holidays are often the times when we finally make the time to get together with friends and family. Unfortunately, this is also one of the busiest times of the year. We are trying to make our house comfortable and festive, provide an abundance of food and drinks, and be great hosts to our guests. Sometimes, we might get stressed out about all these details that we forget the original purpose was to “just” get together with our family and friends.

I admit that I was one of those people that wanted everything to be absolutely perfect for my guests, and I drove myself and my spouse crazy trying to achieve this. (My daughter didn’t know of anything different.) Over the years, I have found some stress free alternatives to the traditional ways of having gatherings. Here are my suggestions:

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Why aren’t stores closed anymore on holidays?

This past Thanksgiving holiday Monday, I walked into Home Depot in the morning with my two children and was greeted by two cheery employees. We politely returned the greeting with a warm hello and light conversation. I couldn’t help but feel sad for them: why weren’t they home enjoying Thanksgiving with their families? Was it just the luck of the scheduling draw? As we drove home, I felt even worse. It’s because of people like me that shop on holidays all of the time, that they need to be there. If you know me, you know my mind didn’t stop there. I need to question humanity (seriously…) and why I had such strong feelings on the topic. I know that I can’t be the only one who does this!

I’ve believed for a long time now that society has an addiction to convenience and speediness. We live in a fast-paced world of instant connections and do-now desires through apps like facebook, online shopping, and 24hr hours of operation. It’s not that I can’t adapt to changing times, it’s that I believe we’ve lost an integral part of the balance in our lives. A part that used to force us to make other arrangements and plans, shop ahead of time and spend quality time with others or on our own.

When I was little, I remember on days like Christmas and other big holidays, there was usually one grocery store open and even then, it was only open for certain hours. Granted, I haven’t lived in Edmonton my entire life: maybe small towns are different. Stores like Staples, Winners, certain restaurants, etc… were never open. Those days were like driving through a ghost town to and from family visits. These days, it looks like any regular day with the reverse occurring- most stores are open and it’s odd to see one closed.

I used to refuse to go out on holidays, other than to and from family get-togethers. Now, on days like this past Thanksgiving holiday Monday, I appreciate the opportunity to be able to shop on a holiday. For the most part it’s because I can do so alone! My husband doesn’t get much time away from work and we he has some time off on major holidays and I can run a couple of errands sans child circus in tow I’m like that woman in the Ikea commercial yelling, “Start the car!!!” I’ve given in to the convenience of being able to shop on a holiday because I can shop alone and because of my family’s schedule. Life is so busy for everyone that this is our new reality and I’m an enabler. I personally find this horrifying but it’s the world that we’re living in.

So I’d like to know what other people think! As the Christmas holiday season approaches, what are your thoughts?

Why are we as a society being given the opportunity to shop? Are stores open on holidays because of customer demand? Why the heck are stores like Michaels open until midnight some nights prior to Christmas? Midnight! Why?! Do employees want to work holidays? Are stores afraid of the potential income loss of being closed when competitors are open? Are we such a culturally diverse society now that in order to respect everyone’s religions and beliefs that businesses need to be open 24-7 to prevent offending someone? OR have we just lost the value and meaning of holidays and what it means to have to be present in other ways in our holidays.   

Mercedes is a mom of two, special needs parent, former junior high school teacher, wine lover, and passionate about supporting local and living an organic lifestyle. Through her blog and social media pages for ‘live it ALL IN’ she talks learning through play, parenting, and everything in between.
Live it ALL IN has two goals:
To help parents and caregivers incorporate a variety of learning and therapy through play styles and creative processes by offering a range of ideas, instructions, and services.

To advocate for special needs and Cerebral Palsy through their families’ experiences with their daughter’s Cerebral Palsy.   Website: , Facebook: , Instagram: ,  ,Twitter:

Getting Your Kids To Declutter The Toys

Looking to declutter the toys? Want your kids to help?

As we approach the holiday season most of us are looking to declutter some of the toys to make room for likely the crazy amount of new ones.

Now I typically will actually go through my kids rooms and toy boxes and get rid of toys myself. My in laws occasionally like to take my kids for the weekend and I use this time to sneak out things while they aren’t looking.

Most of the time they never even notice. Except that one time…….

Yeah I may have donated a barbie house my daughter got from someone that was in the back of her closet and she never used. She had proclaimed she no longer wanted to play with Barbies and gave them all to her sister; who has a barbie doll house too.


Weeks later she came to me, “Mom, where is my green Barbie house?”.

Oh no.

“Well, ummmmm Mommy thought you were done playing with it so she gave it to another little girl that is playing with it.”

*Insert tears and pleas to ask for it back*

So I was going to be smart about it this time. I told the girls it was time to go through the toys they had. There was an overflow and some other little girls or boys could benefit from these toys. Which they were already on board with. They usually are. (I’m lucky I know).

A trend however I notice, especially with my older daughter (6) is she is starting this sentimental value to things. So I made them a deal. If they could EACH fill a blue recycle bag of toys to donate I would take them to the store to get them one single new toy. Within reason of course.

At first I let them go at the toy box while I did dishes or something but I noticed a lack of progress. So I decided I go through it with them. .We started to declutter  the shared toybox on the main floor, which they were highly motivated to go through.

By the time we moved up to their rooms things got a bit more challenging. I started in my older daughters bedroom because I new if her younger sister (4) saw her big sister decluttering, she would. As we worked through her room, we would come across a couple situations and here is how I handled them.

  • Slight sentimental value – Not like her favourite doll her grandma gave her the toy but so and so gave it to her, even though she doesn’t care about it anymore. I would ask, “Do you think you will still have this memory with auntie if you don’t have this toy?” Or “Are there other things you have that remind you of your friend?” But at no point did I force her. She was allowed to keep something she really cared for.
  • I paid a lot for the toy – yeah I got hung up here a bit too. But I tried to give these toys to friends and family or sell them.
  • Multiples – This is an unnerving theme I noticed. They had a lot of the same toys! But especially teddy bears! So I would ask her “If you have 4 brown teddy bears, can you maybe keep one you really love and donate the rest?” and this she usually was pretty good with doing.

After it was all done they both had a full bag of toys to donate and as promised their Dad and I took them to the store and got them a toy.

They happened to both pick out a Fingerling (which I’ve heard is the hot toy for Christmas this year, so bonus they already have them!!!) And they were content. In addition, they helped us drop off the toys and got see and do the good deeds.

Want to get your kids to help declutter?

We teamed up with  

to give away a $100 gift card to help you buy those special toys your kids are after! Head over to our Facebook and post a picture of your kids’ donation pile (BIG OR SMALL!) in the comments to be entered to win the $100 gift card!

Did you know?

Mastermind Toys is Canada’s largest specialty toy and children’s books retailer with 60 locations! 

Mastermind Toys always offers free gift-wrapping on all in-store purchases! 

Mastermind Toys carries over 10,000 carefully curated specialty toys and books that their experienced toy buying team has sourced and hand-picked from across the globe! 

The Mastermind Toys Digital Gift Guide

is available at


The Bitchin' Housewife

Jen is a yoga teacher, fitness enthusiast, and health blogger over at

Prepping your business for the holidays

If you run your own business this is the busiest time of the year! Whether it’s shipping out products, crafting out graphic designs for your clients or plugging away at end of year spreadsheets, it’s a crazy time for everyone.
That being said, just because you’re busy with life, kids, and keeping your customers happy doesn’t mean you should let the business basics become a disaster.

Here are 4 easy ways to keep on top of your business this holiday season.

Update Your Website

This is your front door of your business! Update it! All the exclamation points here!!!!!! Update your hours, your inventory whatever you need people to know at a minutes notice. Make sure all the links work so that if someone needs to get a hold of you, it’s easy to see.  This will save you a lot of time down the road as you won’t have to answer the same question over and over again.

If you own an online store this is true times a million. Your customers are purchasing products for a very specific date (December 25th), and if it’s not available you’re going to have very upset (ie: mad) customers and mad customers are hard to convert to repeat customers. If there are shipping deadlines, these need to be marked clearly, very clearly.

Update Your Social Media Channels

Another basic that gets left off during busy times. Make sure you’ve updated your website, hours of operation and times you’re going to be unavailable over the holidays. This is the internet and people expect you to be available unless you let them know.

This is also a good opportunity to post on social media some of the fun things you’re doing to prep for the holidays. Post pictures of your Christmas parties, or that hike you took, engage with your audience.

Talk To Your Clients.

Everyone is snowed under (almost literally) in November and December but not returning emails or communicating with your clients is for amateur hour, and you’re a professional. Making sure your customers’ life is easy-peasy will ensure that they hire you over again. When life gets crazy for many of us our instinct is to hide and suffer through the work, but sometimes it’s good to talk to your clients and discuss expectations and realities of projects. Sometimes it’s just nice to check in and say hi to the people that pay you money. They’re busy too and would probably appreciate a friendly voice.

Hussle Hussle Hussle …. Breathe.

You’ve already got hussle but one of the worst things you can do in crazy busy time is to burn out. A burnt out mom and a burnt out business owner means despite your intentions, nothing gets done. Entrepreneurs burnout is a very real problem with business owners trying to do everything, and then add being a parent on top of that. It’s easy for exhaustion and being overwhelmed to set in. To avoid this set your working hours and stick to them. When your workday is done, close the laptop and go hang out with your family, get outside, throw a snowball at your kids, get some Christmas shopping done. Do anything except work.

During your work hours, make sure that you are managing your expectations on what can ACTUALLY get done in that time and not what you’d like to get done in that time. What you’d like to get done and what is reasonable to accomplish in a period of time are often two separate things especially in high achievers.

Running your own business is tough especially if you’re running a business around your kids. During busy times of the year it’s near impossible to focus on the basics but little touches will help keep you sane and look like a pro.