Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes

Cooking, Holidays

I’ll never forget the year I slaved over creating a gourmet Thanksgiving feast for my family and my 2-year-old son only ate a crescent roll. The audacity! Didn’t he know that I had been Pinning recipes for weeks, woke up at the crack of dawn to properly season and dress the turkey, and my cherry chorizo stuffing is the best ever?! Of course not — he was only 2!

Despite being a bit miffed at my son’s lack of interest in our Turkey Day meal, it made me rethink how I should prepare Thanksgiving moving forward. I realized he had no idea the amount of preparation that went into Thanksgiving. He didn’t yet know the traditional foods. How could I expect him to love green bean casserole when he doesn’t even like regular green beans? Right then and there, I decided I would involve my children in preparing our Thanksgiving meal next year, and I’d introduce more kid-friendly recipes!

Below are six kid-friendly Thanksgiving recipes that the whole family will love! These recipes give kids confidence in the kitchen and encourage picky eaters to enjoy their Thanksgiving meal. These delicious recipes are so easy that both kids and parents have stress-free fun in the kitchen, plus they have the joy of indulging in their scrumptious Thanksgiving meal together.

Be sure to scroll to the end for additional Thanksgiving meal preparation tips!

6 Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes The Whole Family Will Love:

Veggie Turkey Plate with Healthy Veggie Dip

The best way to get my kids to eat veggies is to introduce them first and make it fun! A veggie plate appetizer shaped like a turkey is sure to get your kids interested! Arrange cucumbers, carrots and celery for the turkey feathers and use bell peppers to create turkey wings and face. I like to pair veggies with my favorite Healthy Veggie Dip, which is so easy to make! Go to Favorite Family Recipes for tips on how to create the veggie turkey here.

Make Ahead Creamy Mashed Potatoes

What kid doesn’t love mashed potatoes? Make this elevated version of mashed potatoes using Cacique Oaxaca Cheese, Crema Mexicana, Pork Chorizo and bacon for a side dish that the whole family will love! Cacique brand makes my favorite hispanic foods, including their high-quality, authentic Oaxaca Cheese which has a mellow, earthy flavor with a superior melt. It’s the perfect cheese to add a special spark to your favorite dishes like classic mashed potatoes. My children love helping sprinkle the shredded Cacique Oaxaca Cheese as the final touch on the casserole, and my 4-year-old is great at mashing potatoes! Another thing that’s fabulous about this mashed potatoes recipe is that you can assemble it the day before Thanksgiving, then pop it in the oven for 30 minutes when you’re ready to serve. This makes the day easier to enjoy relaxing and visiting with family instead of stressing out in the kitchen. For more information about Cacique, including mouth-watering recipes made with authentic ingredients, head to www.CaciqueFoods.com. You can find this Make Ahead Creamy Mashed Potatoes recipe here.

Stuffins

Stuffins = stuffing muffins!! My kids always love making muffins with me, so why not make stuffing muffins! These are easy for little hands to eat and perfect for dipping in gravy or topping with mashed potatoes. I also love that stuffing in muffin form makes sending home leftovers easier. Just pop one of these in a to-go bag! Now you can eat one of everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving side dishes on-the-go! These stuffins are sure to be a big hit with the whole family! Find the full recipe from Forkly here.

Cranberry Crescent Rolls

This is the easiest recipe that combines two traditional Thanksgiving sides – Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and cranberry sauce! Simply add a spoonful of cranberry sauce to your crescent roll dough and roll up as usual. Your kids will love helping you assemble these Cranberry Crescent Rolls! Our family always looks forward to a night when we serve Pillsbury Crescent Rolls with dinner, and the cranberry sauce makes this dish feel more festive. You can even serve these as an appetizer! Find the full recipe from Beauty From Imperfection blog here.

Healthier Pumpkin Pie

I have two priorities when cooking for my family: make it easy and make it healthy-ish. I’m not a dictator about removing sugar from our house, but I do try to cut back where ever I can. That’s why I love Truvia Sweet Complete Monk Fruit Sweetener to replace sugar in baking. It’s a 1:1 replacement, so no additional measuring when following your favorite recipes for cookies, cakes, brownies and pies. Speaking of pie, Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe is our go-to because, well, it’s easy as pie! My children help combine and stir the ingredients in a big bowl, then I pour it the filling into a pie crust and place in the oven. Voila! Traditional pumpkin pie without all the sugar!

Turkey Handprint Cookies

How adorable are these handprint cookies? Trace your child’s hand on card stock and cut out the handprint. Use it as a stencil as you cut handprint cookies out of sugar cookie dough. Your children will love decorating the turkey feathers with colorful chocolate covered sunflower seeds. These cookies are perfect to give to our dinner guests! Set them at each place setting for a thoughtful take-home treat! I got the idea for these Turkey Handprint Cookies from Stephanie over at Somewhat Simple. Find the full recipe here.

My Thanksgiving Meal Prep Tips:

Use the best cookware! As someone who loves to cook, I’ve learned that the quality of your cookware makes a huge difference! Le Creuset has been my favorite cookware brand for years because of its superior quality, versatility, and its beautiful! Their dishes are crafted from the fineest quality stoneware to ensure excellent heat distribution for uniform browning and even cooking with no hot spots. The dishes are finished with a beautiful glaze that is virtually nonstick for easy cleanup. This Thanksgiving, I’m using the Heritage Rectangular Casserole to make the Make Ahead Creamy Mashed Potatoes, but the dish also is perfect for making comforting casseroles, marinating meats, broiling fish and more. I love that it comes with a stoneware lid that locks in moisture and heat while baking and makes it easy to transport and serve dishes at a holiday buffet or potluck. For my pumpkin pie, I’m using Le Creuset’s Pumpkin Casserole to create a perfectly even-cooked pie, plus its so festive with its pumpkin shaped lid! My favorite Le Creuset glaze color meringue, and you’ll be happy to know the glaze is non-porous, non-reactive, scratch-resistant, and resists stains and flavor absorption! Le Creuset really is the best with its unmatched thermal resistance for temperatures ranging from -9°F to 500°F, and it’s safe for the freezer, over, microwavem broiler, dishwasher and metal utensils. These are dishes that you will use and treasure for a lifetime! Check out all their fabulous products at http://www.lecreuset.com.

Cook the day before Thanksgiving. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving Day to make your meal or else you’ll be miserable trying to balance cooking and entertaining guests. I always make my stuffing, potatoes and dessert a day or two before Thanksgiving, and save the vegetables and turkey for the actual holiday.

Enlist help! If you can get a guest to bring a dish, do it! I usually have family visiting from out-of-state for our Thanksgiving, so it can be challenging to ask them to bring a dish when they can’t cook in their hotel rooms. However, I solicit them to bring easy items, like wine or a pre-made appetizer or dessert from a gourmet grocer like Bristol Farms.

Set your table the night before. One less thing to do on Thanksgiving Day! The worst is when all the food is ready and you’re rushing to get the table settings out. I like to do a full tablescape with florals, poppers, formal napkins and china. It makes for a beautiful space for guests to take photos throughout the day, too!

What are your best recipes and tips for hosting Thanksgiving? Let me know in the comments below! For more recipe ideas, parenting and lifestyle tips, follow me on Instagram and TikTok!

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE:  This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors. Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Easy Halloween Snack Idea for Kids: Healthy Spider Crackers!

cooking, Cooking, Health & Wellness, Kitchen

I shared these easy Spider Crackers on KTLA-TV last year, along with some other healthy Halloween treats for kids, and they were such a hit that I had to post them on my blog again this year!

Easy, festive and healthy Spider Crackers!

I love these Spider Crackers because:

(1) They’re easy! You only need 4 ingredients, and most of them you probably already have in your pantry!

(2) They’re customizable. Can’t take nut butter to school? Make these with sunflower seed butter or cream cheese instead! Don’t like raisins? Try currants or mini chocolate chips! Want a healthier cracker? Opt for whole wheat instead of regular Ritz crackers. Any round cracker of your choice will do!

(3) Halloween is often the kickoff to a holiday season filled with non-stop sugar, so it’s nice to create a savory festive treat for a healthy change! As a parent, I really try to limit our kids’ sugar intake where we can this time of year!

(4) They’re festive and versatile! Make these with your kids for an after-school snack, drop them in lunchboxes, or serve them at the class Halloween party!

(5) Your kids will love making these with you!

If you’re looking for more healthy Halloween snack ideas you can make with your kids, check out my segment that aired on KTLA-TV last year, below, or read my blog post here.

Watch me share these Spider Crackers along with other healthy Halloween snack ideas on KTLA-TV in Los Angeles!

Spider Crackers Recipe

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Spread nut butter, seed butter, or cream cheese on two crackers thick enough to hold pretzels
  2. Break 4 pretzels in half
  3. Place the 8 half pretzel sticks around one cracker to resemble spider legs
  4. Top the cracker with the second cracker to secure the legs and make a sandwich
  5. Dip 2 dried fruit pieces in the nut butter or cream cheese and stick them to the top of the spider cracker sandwich to resemble eyes
  6. Enjoy! Store in an airtight container for up to a week
I used regular peanut butter and raisins for this Spider Cracker, but you could also try cream cheese and mini chocolate chips!

Let me know if you try these Spider Crackers and what ingredients combination you choose to use! For more easy recipes and fun ideas for the family, be sure to follow me on Instagram and TikTok!

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Best Cozy Weather Crock Pot Recipes

Cooking, Kitchen, Lifestyle
Ready to put together my favorite Tuscan Chicken from Easy Family Recipes

While it doesn’t feel much like fall weather in Southern California yet, my autumn-loving bones tell me a leaf is falling somewhere in the Northeast and its time for all things cozy!

Cozy Shackets…

Cozy Blankets…

Cozy Shoes…

And the BEST…

COZY COOKING WITH THE CROCK POT!!!

My Crock Pot Story

I’ve been a fan of the Crock Pot ever since I was a little girl helping my mom make dinner for our family. Growing up in the South, I was always impressed by the cook-and-carry crock pots that made appearances at tailgates, church picnics and neighborhood potlucks. I thought those ladies were smart cookies. Not only did they serve delicious meals, they could easily transport their yummy food and keep it warm without dirtying another dish!

Fast forward 20 years to when I moved in with my boyfriend, who’s now my husband. My mother often told me the Southern women’s classic saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” and while that’s probably viewed as outdated now, I took no chances and started cooking us lots of meals. When stocking our new apartment’s kitchen with cooking tools, the Crock Pot was one of the very first appliances we purchased because it’s so versatile and can create complete meals in one pot! You don’t need a full set of pans when you have a Crock Pot! Plus, the single pot makes cleanup a breeze!

After we got our Crock Pot, I remember the first dinner request my boyfriend (now husband) had was beef pot roast. I had conflicting emotions over this request. On one end, I was excited to make my first meal in our brand-new Crock Pot. Beef pot roast was meal that my mother made us every Sunday after church for YEARS. On the other end, I dreaded eating the meal that my mother made for YEARS! While my mother made a delicious beef pot roast when I was a child, I had sworn off that comforting beefy goodness for the rest of my life! There’s just some things you can never eat again after having it over and over and over again! Alas, I made the pot roast… and he LOVED it! It made so much food for the two of us that we had dinner leftovers the next night, and he took the rest of the pot roast to work for lunch for a week! And, I have to admit, it tasted GOOD! Despite my reluctance to make the pot roast, I was really pleased with how it turned out. Plus, it felt really good making a meal for someone I loved and cared about. A meal that made him so happy! I was hooked on this Crock Pot! And my boyfriend was hooked on me! We married three years later.

Since that first Crock Pot meal in 2013, I’ve used my slow cooker hundreds of times. I love the “dump it and forget it” aspect of the Crock Pot. When I was busy working a strenuous job with a long commute, I’d put all my ingredients in the Crock Pot before leaving for work and adored coming home to my kitchen smelling of a delicious prepared meal. No one wants to cook after a dreadfully long day, and the Crock Pot was GOLD for that time of my life! Then, when I was pregnant with my second child, I made several crock pot freezer meals to have on hand those first few weeks with the new baby so I could pull together delicious, easy dinners with little effort. Nowadays, I use the Crock Pot for busy weeknight meals for our family or when I’m craving one of my favorite slow cooker recipes.

Speaking of my favorite slow cooker recipes, I’ve compiled my top 10 Crock Pot recipes below! These recipes are tried and true – easy to pull together and delicious! Perfect for busy weeknights or for when you simply want a tasty low-effort meal!

Top 10 Favorite Crock Pot Recipes:

Chicken Crock Pot Recipes:

Cream Cheese Crack Chicken Chili (Plain Chicken) – There’s a reason this recipe is called “Crack” Chili — it is so addicting! Creamy cheese, juicy chicken, and salty bacon make this recipe irresistible, and the subtle heat from the diced tomatoes and green chilies kicks this flavor up a notch! This is one of my family’s favorite meals and probably the Crock Pot recipe I make the most, mostly because the kids love it, too! Grab the full recipe from Plain Chicken here.

Honey Garlic Chicken (Family Food On The Table) – The best Crock Pot meals are the ones where you don’t have to do anything but dump it and forget it! No chopping, no searing of meat beforehand, no additional ingredients halfway through cooking. This Honey Garlic Chicken recipe is just that! Plus, it’s only five ingredients! I love to serve this over Asian rice and vegetables then top with green onions and red pepper flakes!

Tuscan Chicken (Easy Family Recipes) – This recipe is easy, delicious and loaded with veggies! Sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, spinach and diced onions make this Tuscan Chicken a healthy Italian favorite. Serve over mashed potatoes, cauliflower rice or your favorite pasta to make a complete hearty meal. This is another recipe that’s on repeat at our home because it feels like a different meal every time I switch up the sides. I also like to use the leftovers in a salad, wrap or sandwich!

Chicken Burrito Bowls (The Kitchn) – We do “Taco Tuesday” every week at our house, and while I adore tacos, I need to change it up sometimes. That’s when I look for other Mexican-inspired recipes like this easy Chicken Burrito Bowl from one of my favorite foodies sites The Kitchn. I love creating a build-your-own station for the family to create their perfect bowl with their choice of a variety of toppings, like cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, jalapeños, chives, etc. I collect hot sauce (seriously!), so this is my chance to sample one of my many spicy sauces!

Asian Peanut Chicken (Sweet Peas and Saffron) – This was one of the recipes I made and freezed for an easy dinner when my second baby was born! I love this Asian Peanut Chicken’s flavorful sauce, and the sweet potatoes in this dish make it a warm hearty meal.

Pork Crock Pot Recipes:

Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Sauce (The Recipe Rebel) – I love to serve this Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Sauce during the holidays because it looks and tastes like a fancy recipe, but in reality it’s SO EASY! Sever over mashed potatoes with a side of veggies or a salad and you’re dinner guests will be so impressed!

Baby Back Ribs (Spend With Pennies) – This baby back ribs recipe is one of my husband’s most favorite meals! The ribs come out of the Crock Pot fall-off-the-bone delicious! This recipe calls for creating your own rib sauce with BBQ sauce, chili sauce and ketchup, but I’ve tried only using our favorite BBQ sauce instead and it’s turned out great!

Tacos Al Pastor (Gimme Some Oven) – This taco meat is so juicy and delicious, you’ll think its from an authentic upscale Mexican restaurant! This Tacos Al Pastor recipe takes a bit more prep work at the beginning with chopping onions and pineapple and blending the sauce ingredients in a food processor, but I promise you its worth it! I like to use a big pork shoulder so we can eat on it all week making tacos, quesadillas, sandwiches and salads.

Beef Crock Pot Recipes:

Beef Gyros (365 Days of Crock Pot) – Greek food is one of my favorites, and this Beef Gyros recipe is so tasty and so easy! This includes an additional recipe for tzatziki sauce, but I like to make dinner even easier by purchasing pre-made tzatziki at the store. Serve beef in pita folds or with roasted Mediterranean vegetables!

Beef Pot Roast (Hamilton Beach) – This is the first recipe I ever made in my Crock Pot — the same recipe I mention at the top of this blog post that I could credit for turning my boyfriend into my husband! It’s so easy but so flavorful! Perfect for a warm and cozy meal in winter or a perfect Sunday family supper.

I hope my list of favorite Crock Pot recipes gives you inspiration for your next family meal! Let me know which of these recipes you want to try in the comments below! For more recipe ideas, parenting and lifestyle tips, follow me on Instagram and TikTok!

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

5 Tips to Keep Your Child Healthier This School Year

Health & Wellness

We’re back to school, and parents might already be experiencing what I call the “back-to-school plague” where your child has picked up a cough, some extra sniffles, or maybe even conjunctivitis (a.k.a. pink eye) like we recently experienced with our preschooler. With all the exposure to new people, places, and germs, our kids’ little immune systems take quite the beating the first few weeks of school!

While it may seem inevitable that your child will get sick the first few weeks of school, there are proven ways to help combat the “plague!” I shared five tips to keep your child healthy this school year on KTLA Morning News with Anchor Lu Parker – watch below!

Here are the 5 products I featured on KTLA Morning News about keeping kids healthy this school year:

1. Teach proper hand washing with SoaPen

SoaPen is a hand soap pen for kids (that easily fits into a backpack or lunchbox) that encourages kids to wash their hands by coloring all over them! How genius is that?! When SoaPen co-founders learned that 50% of infectious diseases that lead to fatalities among kids under 5 can be avoided by the simple act of washing hands with soap, the duo sprung into action to create a solution. Simply have your children use the SoaPen to color red, blue or green all over their hands to apply the soap. I love this, because kids can easily see where they’re placing the soap and if they’ve missed a spot. The color takes at least 30 seconds to wash off, so it’s the perfect tool to help kids create proper hand washing habits. Don’t worry – the color won’t stain clothes! You can find SoaPen in a 3-pack on Amazon here.

2. Stay healthy and hydrated on-the-go with LARQ PureVis Water Bottle

Drinking enough water helps prevent infections, delivers nutrients to cells, and boosts brain function – just a few of the many important reasons for your little one to stay hydrated! But, have you ever been concerned about the quality of water your child is drinking? Look no further than LARQ PureVis water bottle, which is the world’s first self-cleaning water bottle and purification system! You no longer have to worry about what’s in the water your child is drinking when they’re filling up their bottle from the hallway water fountain. Every LARQ Bottle utilizes PureVisTM purification technology to eradicate up to 99.9999% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Proprietary UV-C LED technology uses 270-275 nanometer of UV-C light to neutralize germs, triggering a photochemical reaction that destroys their DNA. Powerful PureVis™ technology activates at the touch of a button and cleans water in 60 seconds. The water bottle also self cleans every 2 hours to eliminate harmful bacteria such as E. Coli. This means no more stinky bottles! I hate when my other reusable water bottles get funky. I’ll clean them over and over again, and they still easily get yucky! Thankfully, the LARQ PureVis self-cleaning system keeps yuck away!

I also love that LARQ’s full charge lasts up to a month. Who needs another thing to charge every day, right?! Other great qualities are that the LARQ Bottle features double insulated walls, keeping it hot for 12 hours and cold for 24 hours. It’s chicly powder coated in five subtle colors, so it looks good at school, at the office, on a hike, or wherever your travels take you. Grab one for your child and one for you here.

3. Destroy air pollutants with Molekule Air Pro and Molekule Air Mini+ Purifiers

Did you know that indoor air quality can sometimes be worse than outdoors? That’s so alarming to me, especially when we spend so much of our time indoors! When researching a solution to purify our home’s air, I found Molekule products, which have been FDA cleared for medical use, including in the home, for the destruction of viruses and bacteria in particular. Molekule has been proven in lab settings to destroy 99% of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in 1 hour! Also, peer-reviewed testing has demonstrated Molekule’s ability to inactivate the H1N1 flu virus by up to 99.99% in single-pass experiments. This is PHENOMENAL! Molekule sets the standard for the air purifying industry!

Molekule’s purifiers work by using Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO; sounds like Pee-Koh) technology. PECO uses oxidation to break down pollutants at the molecular level, which can destroy chemicals like VOCs, ozone, mold, viruses, bacteria and more. PECO — the technology inside all Molekule air purifiers — was developed over the past two and a half decades as a unique and innovative way to mitigate indoor air pollution. Instead of trapping organic pollutants within the unit like other air purifiers, PECO destroys them at the chemical level.

For large spaces in our home, the Molekule Air Pro cleans up to 1,000 square feet. Air Pro is equipped with a robust suite of sensors that destroys pollutants including viruses, bacteria, chemicals, and mold, while also detecting relative humidity, and CO2. We also can track air quality trends with a retroactive view into the air quality of the space. Called Expanded Air History, this feature gives Air Pro users the ability to see which pollutants are affecting the indoor air quality over the past day, week, or month.

For smaller spaces in our home, like the children’s bedrooms, the Molekule Air Mini+ cleans up to 250 square feet. I love that it is lightweight and easy to carry from room to room. Air Mini+ has a particulate matter sensor designed to detect particles in the air like dust, dander, VOCs, mold, bacteria and viruses. It also is equipped with Auto Protect mode, which automatically adjusts the device’s fan speed based on the particulate matter it senses. With Auto Protect Mode, Air Mini+ responds in real-time to reduce the amount of particles in the air like pollen and dust, while also capturing and destroying other indoor air pollutants. This compliments what the PECO filter already provides the device, ensuring the capture and destruction of the widest range of pollutants in the air. 

I honestly didn’t think too much about indoor air quality until I had children and learned research shows that children breathe more pollutants than adults per body weight, meaning they’re more susceptible to health complications from pollutants, like mold in classrooms and gasses from school buses. Similarly, the EPA notes that almost one in 13 children suffers from asthma, one of the leading causes of student absences. Poor indoor air quality affects everyone, but especially children – making Molekule air purifiers an important line of defense! Find Molekule air purifiers here.

4. Reduce stress and anxiety with Zenimal Kids guided meditation audio player

According to a report by the American Psychological Association, long-term stress weakens the responses of our immune system. Our kids are under a tremendous amount of pressure to perform at school and sports, and repeated stress could really affect their bodies’ ability to fight off infections. Help your child destress with Zenimal Kids guided meditation audio player. My favorite thing about this device is that it is screen free! There is no app, subscription, or pesky pairing to manage which gives kids full autonomy over their meditation practice. It was designed by a mom who wanted her own children to have something they could control to build their wellness skills.

From A to Zen, the portable audio player comes with 9 meditation tracks for sleep, relaxation, breathing, creativity, stillness, empathy, gratitude, and feelings, ranging from 3-15 minutes long. Many children may find that they love using their Zenimal as a sleep aid. Simply turn on one of the peaceful tracks and your child will fall asleep the all-natural way, calmed and peaceful, without the use of medications or melatonin. Kids can also use it at school during challenging times since the device has a headphone jack. It’s also a great tool for in the car or school bus on the way to school to center the mind and body first thing in the morning. The rechargeable battery lasts 7 hours and the food-grade silicone cover is removable and washable. If you’re like me and want one of these Zenimals for yourself, the brand also makes a version for teens and adults, called Zenimal+. I’ve always thought that meditation apps on my phone ruined the idea of a peaceful meditation practice (personally, I want to put my phone AWAY when I’m trying to relax and reconnect), so I love that I finally have a screen-free tool to guide me in calming my mind! Zenimal Kids is great for children ages 5-12, and Zenimal+ is perfect for ages 13 to adults.

5. Get quality sleep with the adjustable MLILY JAMA Pillow

According to an article from Mayo Clinic, studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. Help your child get their best sleep possible with the MLILY JAMA Pillow, an adjustable foam pillow specially designed for children and their growing bodies, ergonomically shaped and sized for kids ages 3+. Its unique feature includes three foam layers individually wrapped – two flat layers to adjust the height as their body grows and one top layer contoured to support the head and neck for proper spinal alignment. The modal fabric is soft, breathable, hypoallergenic and made from 100% biodegradable material derived from beech tree pulp. The removable cover is machine washable and features a hidden zipper design that conceals sharp edges. Plus, your kids will love the 90s aesthetic and bright purple and teal colors!

I love a product that has a good give-back component, and MLILY gives a portion of proceeds from every JAMA sold to Special Spaces, a not-for-profit organization that creates dream bedroom makeovers for children ages 2-19 who have cancer. MLILY JAMA pillows are available to purchase here.

Which of these products would you like to try to help keep your kids healthy this school year? Do you have any other favorite products to boost your child’s immune system I should know about? Let me know by commenting below!

I often share top products and easy recipes for young families that help make their lives simpler and healthier, so be sure to follow me on Instagram and TikTok for my latest posts!

XO Maggie

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Best Books to Prepare Your Child for Preschool

Lifestyle, Mom & Baby, Uncategorized

If you have a little one starting preschool soon, you may be nervous about how they’ll handle the transition. To help prepare your toddler for their first day of preschool, I recommend reading children’s books with them that give a fun and comforting look into what their time at school will be like.

Personally, I was a worried wreck about my firstborn starting school when he was 2 years old. He was pandemic toddler who had been stuck at home with mommy for several months prior to his first day of school. I was nervous that he’d miss me, not like his teacher, or have a hard time getting along with other toddlers. I was pregnant and without childcare or family nearby, and I knew that I’d need help caring for and stimulating our toddler when the baby was born. Preschool was the best option for us at that time, but it didn’t stop my motherly worries.

A couple months before his first day of school, I starting reading these children’s books, listed below, to my son about going to preschool hoping it would make the transition easier. After reading together, we’d chat about what he thought preschool would be like. To my satisfaction, he started getting really excited for preschool! I involved him in the process of picking out his lunchbox and backpack. We would drive by the school and talk about what we thought the kids and teachers were doing. We circled the first day of school on the family calendar on our fridge and talked about it every day… “Four more days until the first day of school!”

My son’s first day of preschool

I’m delighted to report that my son’s first day of preschool was a success! There were no tears, and he actually waved goodbye to me like he was glad I was leaving! The second week of preschool was when we started having some struggles saying goodbye. I think he realized that preschool was his new normal and maybe was concerned about how often he’d be away from mom. But, he only whimpered a little bit, never sobbed, and his teacher told me that once he got inside and started playing with his friends that he never asked about mommy again. I was so proud of us for making this transition together, but it also felt bittersweet. My baby was growing and didn’t need mommy all the time!

Help your little one prepare for preschool with our favorite picture books, below.

A few of our favorite picture books about starting preschool

4 Best Books to Prepare Your Child For Preschool:

  1. Preschool Day Hooray!, by Linda Leopold Strauss

Of all the books listed here, Preschool Day Hooray! was my son’s favorite book when we were preparing for preschool. The story positively shares a typical day in preschool from drop-off to pick-up with fun, upbeat rhymes. The children in the book do story time, dance, make arts & crafts, play outside, and even see what it’s like when someone gets an ouchie. Our favorite part was the end of the book when mommy comes back!

2. The 12 Days of Preschool, by Jenna Lettice

The 12 Days of Preschool is a fun book to read (or sing!) because it goes along to the same tune as “The 12 Days of Christmas” song. The book counts all the fun experiences children get to do at preschool in their classroom and outside, like sharing toy trains, riding tricycles, story time, and nap time. The colorful and busy pictures are fun for children to browse, and our book even came with stickers!

3. Our Class is a Family, by Shannon Olsen

I wanted our son to know that he would be safe and loved at school just like he is at home, and Our Class is a Family is a great book for sharing this concept. The book explains that school is kids’ home away from home where they are respected and accepted just the way they are. The book encourages children to build a community and strengthen friendships at their school. I loved this book for preschool prep, because it helped our toddler not feel intimidated by the new teachers and students he’d be spending his days with.

4. The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn

This book, The Kissing Hand, is wonderful for families dealing with separation anxiety. The story follows a child raccoon, Chester, who is nervous about his first day of school. His mother raccoon shares a sweet family secret that helps calm his fears and gives him the confidence to be away from home. This book is filled with empathy and compassion for little ones worried about being away from mommy and daddy. You can use it for more than preschool – day care, camp, overnights with grandma, etc. !

What favorite picture books have you read with your child to help with the transition to preschool? Please share your recommendations with me in the comments below! I’d also love to connect with you on Instagram and TikTok!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Red, White and Blue Summer Spritz Cocktail Recipe

Cooking, Holidays, Lifestyle

The 4th of July, my favorite holiday, is just around the corner and I’m prepping and planning what to serve our party guests! When it comes to making cocktails for a large group, I prefer easy batch cocktails that look pretty in a pitcher on your table but also are so simple to serve! No one has to play bartender making individual cocktails when you have a ready-to-serve pitcher filled with a yummy libation!

Feeling festive with my Red, White and Blue Summer Spritz!

This year, we’ll have this Red, White and Blue Summer Spritz available for our guests. The red strawberries, blue blueberries and white wine make this drink perfect for a July 4th party. I love sticking to a theme when hosting guests, so I’m going all out with red, white and blue everything!

The best part about this cocktail — it’s SO EASY! You don’t have to be a master bartender to pull this off! Plus, it’s affordable! Don’t worry about impressing guests with expensive white wine in this drink. The wine will be mixed with simple syrup, club soda, and berries, so your guests will have no idea you used bottom-shelf wine! Garnish the cocktail with a sprig of fresh rosemary or mint to add some flare and make it look fancy! I like savory cocktails, so I prefer rosemary, but mint is perfect for summer! I promise you’ll like this cocktail so much, you’ll be sipping it all summer!

Below is my recipe for Red, White and Blue Summer Spritz!

Red, White and Blue Summer Spritz Cocktail!

Red, White and Blue Summer Spritz Cocktail

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Fill a pitcher with ice
  2. Add 1/2 cup each of sliced strawberries and blueberries into the pitcher
  3. Pour simple syrup and bottle of wine until pitcher is 3/4 full
  4. Pour club soda to fill remaining 1/4 of pitcher and stir to combine
  5. To serve, fill glass with ice and pour in spritz. Garnish cocktail with additional berries and a sprig of fresh rosemary or mint to your taste

If you’re looking for more July 4th party ideas, check out my other posts, linked below!

What do you like to serve your July 4th party guests? Let me know in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram and TikTok!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Easy July 4th Trifle Recipe

Cooking, Holidays

If you’re looking for an impressive July 4th dessert that takes little effort, this festive red, white and blue trifle checks all the boxes! It’s yummy, easy, and fun! This dessert is sure to be the hit of your July 4th party!

Easy and festive July 4th trifle!

This “almost homemade” July 4th trifle is made with simple ingredients easily found at your local grocer: pre-made angel food cake, Cool Whip, strawberries and blueberries – that’s it!! If you don’t have a trifle dish, you could use a large clear glass bowl. This recipe is perfect for a 2.5 to 3-quart trifle dish. I used a large 5.5-quart trifle bowl, so I doubled this recipe.

The red, white and blue from the strawberries, blueberries and Cool Whip makes it perfect for the Fourth of July! Once you’re finished assembling the trifle, create a pretty flag design with the berries as a topper for an Instagram-worthy party table centerpiece!

Easy July 4th Trifle Recipe

Easy July 4th Trifle

Ingredients:

  • 1 13-16 oz. angel food cake, cut into 1-inch cubes (easiest if pre-made from your grocer’s bakery or you can also do a simple cake mix)
  • 1 quart sliced strawberries
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 2 8 oz. containers Cool Whip
    • *reserve a few strawberries and blueberries for topping

Directions:

  1. In a 2.5 to 3-quart trifle dish or large glass bowl, layer half of the angel food cake, strawberries, blueberries and then one container whipped topping. Repeat layers with remaining angel food cake, strawberries, blueberries and second container whipped topping.
  2. Create an American flag design with your remaining blueberries and strawberries to top your trifle.
  3. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Best enjoyed within 24 hours.

Watch me make this Easy July 4th Trifle on Instagram:

July 4th Trifle on Instagram!

Let me know if you plan to try this for your July 4th party by commenting below or connecting with me on Instagram or TikTok!

Festive Red, White and Blue Dessert!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Help Your Child Learn to Swim!

Lifestyle

Summer is officially in full swing, which means it’s time for pool parties, beach visits, and water play! If you have a little one in your house, you’re probably concerned about whether your child is water safe… Good for you, mama and dada! It’s so important to get our children comfortable around water at a young age! After all, the CDC reports that drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4, and no parent wants to experience the nightmare of an accidental drowning.

At the beginning of this summer, I made a concerted effort to get my kids swimming on their own. We recently remodeled our backyard with a new pool, and it was very important to my husband and me that our children would be safe in and around the water. I’m so proud to say that at 3.5 years old and 19 months old, both kiddos are swimming! Currently, the oldest one can swim to the bottom of the shallow end and pick up diving toys. He also can take a breath on his own while swimming across the pool and he’s working on developing his freestyle stroke. The youngest one can swim about 14 feet across the pool. She hasn’t mastered taking a breath while swimming yet, but I think she might before summer ends! Both children know how to find the edge of the pool when in trouble, which is a relief to mama. But, my favorite part about their swimming is that they LOVE it! They love feeling their weightless body in the water and exploring new ways to play in the pool. It’s so rewarding for me as a mama to see my kids safely love and play in the water!

Playing in the pool with my youngest child

I’ve been so happy with my kids’ progress this summer that I’ve been sharing videos of them swimming on my Instagram and TikTok. Every time I post a video, I get so many DM’s from parents asking for tips on how to get their children to swim, too. As a former swim instructor, I wish I could take all the credit, but my kids aren’t always fond of following my swim guidance – haha! But, because there’s been so much interest from other parents, I wanted to share a post about what’s worked for our family to get our kids swimming! Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this page to check out some of my favorite kid-friendly pool products, too!

Watch our 19-month-old swim!

6 Tips to Help Your Child Learn to Swim

  1. Exposure, Exposure, Exposure!

This is listed as the first tip because it’s the most important! The more your child is in the water, the more comfortable they will get with how their body feels in the water and more likely they are to easily learn to swim. Please don’t consider swim lessons the same as practice for another sport or activity. Unlike going to their once-a-week dance class or twice-a-week basketball practice, little kids need to be in the water almost daily to learn to swim. When I was a lifeguard and swim instructor (almost 15 years ago – yikes!), I’d teach morning swim lessons on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. There were some kids whose parents only brought them to the swim lessons and I never saw them at the pool any other time. Then, there were the parents who let their kids stay after swim lessons to play. Even better, there were a couple parents who brought their child every day to the pool to play. Guess who learned to swim that summer? The kids who came to the pool every day were little fish by time the summer was over! The ones who only showed up to the lessons knew the basics but ultimately weren’t very comfortable in the water. I know this can be a challenge for families who don’t have regular access to a pool. If you take lessons at a public pool, ask the instructor if it’s okay for your child to play on the steps for 10 minutes when the lessons are over. Even a baby pool or smaller inflatable pool at home is a great way to get your child exposed to water play. Let them play longer in the bathtub, too! Scroll to the bottom of this post to see some of my favorite baby pool products!

Playing in a baby pool to help with exposure to water

2. Take Swim Lessons

As a former swim instructor, I honestly never thought I’d need to sign my children up for swim lessons. I thought that water exposure and my own instruction would be good enough. Well, just like almost every parent-child relationship that’s come before us, my firstborn child was not interested in my instruction. As he was getting older and still not swimming on his own, I decided it was time to bring in assistance. We did an 8-day intensive private swim lesson that was 30 minutes a day for our oldest and 15 minutes a day for our youngest. The oldest was in a class with two other kids his age. My youngest did her class alone. I was thrilled with the results of our lessons! After 8 days, both kids were swimming to the wall on their own! Lessons with an instructor other than myself forced my children to learn the skills they needed to get comfortable in the water. The lessons helped my kids develop a respect and love for the water, because they were doing it on their own. They felt proud that they could swim without mommy! It also was fun my for my oldest to swim with other kids his age. While the 8-day private swim lessons are a phenomenal way to get your kid swimming, I believe that any swim instruction is beneficial. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see recommended swim lessons in Pasadena, Calif. and surrounding areas!

Our son Landon, age 3, at semi-private swim practice

3. Allow for Free Play

It’s just as important to give your child the opportunity for free play in the water as it is to give them swim lessons! This way, your child associates the pool with fun rather than only strict instruction. If getting in the pool is fun, they’re more likely to swim! This is especially great for the kids that are scared of water or nervous about lessons with a new teacher. To incorporate more free play, I recommend getting to your swim lessons 15 minutes early and sitting on the steps with your kids with a water safe toy of their choice — maybe a plastic car, boat, or doll from home, for example. You can also bring water toys or diving toys, but if they’ve never played with a diving stick before, it may add to the uncomfortable nature of the pool. Bringing something they’re familiar with makes it safe. Allow your child to go at their pace to get in the pool and get used to the water. After swim lessons, ask the instructor if you can stick around for a few minutes to play more. If the facility has a baby pool, that’s a fun place to let your child free play, too. As I mentioned before, the more exposure they have to water – no matter where it is – the better. Encourage other children from swim lessons to join in. If you have easy access to a pool, schedule pool play dates so your kids learn how much fun it is to swim with friends! Even playing with kids in mini plastic or blow-up pools at home is helpful. I included a few options for baby pools at the bottom of this page, along with some toys that are great for free play.

Our daughter enjoying unstructured free play in the water

4. Play With Them

Let your kids see how much fun swimming can be by playing with them in the water! Not only do little kids love the opportunity to play with their parents, but they’re also the best mimickers at this young age. I promise that if your child sees you enjoying the water, they’ll have more interest in playing in the water, too! Imagine being forced to do swim lessons in a big scary pool with a stranger while your parents sit off to the side and watch. That’s not always a fun situation for a little one, especially if their personality is more on the sensitive side. But, if you got in the water to play with your kids in between lessons, I’m certain they’d start feeling more comfortable with a little bit of time. When I get in the water with my kids, I try to show them what fun things they can learn by blowing bubbles, floating on my back, swimming to the bottom of the pool, doing handstands and front flips, etc. They love watching mommy be playful! Be sure to make it pressure-free playtime. Ask if they want to try to blow bubbles with you, and if they say no, respect it. Eventually, they come around and want to play, too!

My husband playing in the pool with our toddlers

5. Bring Positive, Patient Energy

Your children match your attitude towards the water. If you act fearful of the pool, so will they. If you love the water, your children will, too. Be really conscious of your reactions when they’re around the water. Don’t panic or overreact when they get splashed or accidentally go under water. That will immediately teach them that the pool is not a safe place. If they accidentally go under water, calmly pick them up, look at them in the eyes, and say something caring but relaxed like, “Whoa! You went under! Was that fun?” It also helps to give them a positive pep talk before swimming so they enter the situation confidently. For example, when we’re driving to swim lessons, I like to positively narrate to my children what they can expect from the day. I’ll usually say something like this: “We’re on our way to swim lessons. It’s going to be fun so fun! Coach Tim (or enter the name of your swim instructor here) is so nice and wants to help you be a great swimmer. There will be other kids there to play with, too! It’s a big pool, but you’ll only swim in a small area. Mommy is so excited to watch you swim with everyone. We’ll all be watching you and close by, so you’ll be very safe. You should be so proud of yourself for trying something new today!” Setting up positive expectations for your child helps reduce the fear around learning to swim! Lastly, please be patient with your little one. I know it can get frustrating to see your child sitting on the edge of the pool while the other kids happily play in the water, but allowing your child to go at their own pace will help them develop trust with the water and you. As long as you keep exposing your child to the fun of the pool, I promise they’ll eventually learn to swim!

Don’t be concerned if your child is like mine — desperately holding on to the side instead of playing with the other kids. This is the same child that is swimming freestyle in the video I shared earlier in my post! This picture and that video were taken one week apart! All kids come around with time!

6. Don’t Introduce Floaties

Okay, this is a tough one. I know those baby and toddler floaties can be so tempting to put on your children to ensure they’re safe in the water. But, if you really want your kid to start swimming at a young age, don’t even bother. The floaties are a signal to children that they’re not safe in the water without them. Floaties quickly become a crutch and a very tough item to transition away from. Because I used to be a lifeguard and swim instructor, I swore to myself that I wouldn’t introduce floaties to my kids. While I was working at the pool everyday, I saw firsthand how the kids who became attached to their floaties took longer to swim on their own. Flash forward to a decade later when we were at a pool party with our 2 year old and 7 month old, and to be honest, my husband and I were TIRED of holding and entertaining our children in the water. As exhausted new parents, we craved a moment to chill by the pool and talk to adults while our kids played safely in the water. We saw this swim vest on another child and liked it because it didn’t have big tubes around the arms like other traditional swim floaties. I thought it could be a good floaty that would still encourage our children to learn to use their arms in the water. We got one for our oldest child, and while it did give mom and dad a few breaks by the pool, he got addicted to the swim vest. He knew he was safe in it because mom and dad acted more relaxed when he was wearing it. Before we knew it, he wouldn’t take off the swim vest even if we offered to hold him in the water. He finally broke the swim vest habit once we put him in the 8-day intensive private swim lessons, but looking back, I really wish I would have kept him out of it from the beginning. With that said, if you are a parent that just never wants to get in the water or can’t keep a close eye on your child, buy the floaties. It’s better to be safe above everything else. But, if you want your child to be a confident swimmer at a young age, don’t do floaties. Our youngest, who is 20 months old, has never worn floaties and she can swim about 14 feet across the pool by herself. She can swim out, turn around, and swim back to the edge. It’s amazing to me!

Those are my six tips to help encourage your child to learn to swim! I’d love to hear your tips on how you taught your child learned to swim, too! Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on my Instagram and TikTok!

My happy swimmers!

Best Products for Early Swimmers:

Mini Pools for Home:

If you don’t have a pool in your backyard and rarely have access to a big pool, it’s great to keep up exposure in a mini pool at home! Even if you do have a big pool in your backyard, our kids still love playing with their toys in a baby pool!

Mellow Yellow Kiddie Pool – A more aesthetically pleasing pool that adults may like to wade in, too.

Tropical Palm Splash Pool – Another more “adult” looking pool that you wouldn’t mind having in your backyard for a party.

Venezia Luxe Inflatable Pool – A luxury mini pool for your bougie baby.

Play Day Round Kiddie Pool – A cheapy but a goodie

Inflatable Ocean Scene Sun Shade Kids Swimming Pool – The canopy makes this a perfect first pool for your tiniest swimmers.

Swim Toys and Tools:

Chuchik Diving Toys: All the diving toys you need in a convenient mesh carrying bag.

Junior Kick Board – Our son fell in love with kick boards after a swim lesson and its been fun for him to practice his kicks.

Splash Swim Goggles – These goggles won’t get tangled in your child’s hair!

Kids Speedo Goggles – Trusted brand Speedo makes great kids goggles.

Swim Lessons Recommendations in Pasadena, Calif. and Surrounding Areas:

  • Rose Bowl Aquatics Center: The Rose Bowl Aquatic Center has long been recognized for its great swim lessons with experienced instructors. They have options for group, private, and semi-private lessons. If your child is under 3 years old, one parent has to be with the child in the water during lessons. The Rose Bowl Aquatic Center’s pool is outdoors, so I know it’s been a popular option for families in the summer or for people who don’t love indoor pools. I personally love that the Aquatics Center is right next to Brookside Park and Kidspace Children’s Museum. You can make a fun family day out of swim lessons by visiting Kidspace or hitting up the playground before or after the Aquatic Center. Learn more at https://www.rosebowlaquatics.org/.
  • Waterworks Aquatics Pasadena: Waterworks is dedicated to teaching children and adults the lifelong skills they need to feel comfortable and confident in the water. The pool is indoors and heated year-round, so its always comfortable for lessons. Waterworks has private lessons, semi-private lessons, and parent-and-me lessons. For kids 5 and older, Waterworks offers stroke clinics for kids to develop their technique. Learn more at https://www.waterworksswim.com/locations/pasadena
  • YMCA of the Foothills: You don’t have to be a member of the YMCA to take advantage of their phenomenal swim programs. The YMCA of the Foothills has three campuses, and two of them have indoor pools available for swim lessons: CCY (Crescenta-Canada) and VHY (Verdugo Hills). The YMCA offers parent-child lessons, group preschool lessons, youth lessons (ages 6-12), adult lessons, and private lessons. The group preschool lessons are especially attractive for parents who aren’t interested in getting in the water with their child. Learn more at https://www.ymcafoothills.org/aquatics.

What products have you loved for your little swimmer? Do you have any great recommendations on where to take swim lessons in the Pasadena or LA area? Let me know in the comments below, or connect with me on my Instagram and TikTok!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Easy July 4th Dessert: Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers!

Cooking, Holidays, Kitchen, Lifestyle
Festive in Red, White and Blue!

The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday! It’s the best of summer all rolled into one day — family, friends, BBQ, parties, yummy treats, fun drinks, great music, and fireworks!

We’re hosting our first big Fourth of July party at our house this year, and it’s a party I’ve been dreaming of hosting ever since we bought this home almost five years ago! We finally finished our backyard remodel last fall, and I can’t wait for everyone to enjoy our pool and great view of fireworks from our balcony this year!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I love cooking and hosting parties. But, when it comes to hosting a really big party, like we are this year for July 4th, I’m all about making dishes that are simple, quick, and festive! That’s why I look for easy recipes that can feed a crowd but look fun to eat, too!

Enter: Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers!

Easy Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers

Because beautiful red strawberries and sweet blueberries are in season, it’s easy to add patriotic color to your July 4th party table. I love these Red, White and Blue Fruit because they’re fun to make AND eat! Your kids will love helping you assemble them! Just make sure they’re old enough to handle a wooden skewer without poking themselves! I love the mini marshmallows in this recipe because they instantly upgrade your treat from a simple fruit skewer to a dessert!

Ingredients for Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers: Strawberries, Blueberries, Mini Marshmallows and Wooden Skewers

Here’s how to make Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers!

Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers Recipe:

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Wash and dry strawberries and blueberries
  • Cut strawberries to match the size of blueberries and mini marshmallows
  • Thread berries and marshmallows onto skewer in red, white and blue pattern
  • Cover and store in fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy within 24 hours.
Red, White and Blue Fruit Skewers for the Fourth of July!

Other Ideas for July 4th Fruit Skewers:

  • Swap out mini marshmallows for bananas or angel food cake
  • Try other blackberries or raspberries instead of blueberries and strawberries
  • Use mini star shaped cookie cutters to make festive shapes out of the strawberries or angel food cake

Let me know if you try these skewers, and please share other fun July 4th dessert recipes with me! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and TikTok for more ideas!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.

Kid-Friendly West Hollywood: The Best Dining, Hotels and Activities for Families in WeHo!

Lifestyle, Travel

I had so much fun speaking with Tracy Paaso and Felicia Terwilliger, hosts of the “We Know WeHo” podcast, about all things family related in West Hollywood! One of my biggest hopes in using this platform is to be a helpful resource to parents with young children. As a mommy with two little ones, I know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to make the transition from being young, fun and childless to a responsible new parent. I was one of the first of my friends to have kids and had no idea what to expect from parenthood, in addition to having no clue where to take my children in L.A.! Now, after a few years of experience, I’m here to help you find the best for families in Los Angeles – and, in this case, West Hollywood! Read on to learn more about my history with West Hollywood, and I’ll also recap all the kid-friendly restaurants, shops, hotels and activities that I mentioned in my interview on the “We Know WeHo” podcast! Read more about this podcast episode on Wehoville.com!

My West Hollywood Story

I absolutely love West Hollywood. During my 13+ years in Los Angeles (over 10 years living here and 3 years visiting), I have spent lots of time in West Hollywood. When I was single, it was a hotspot for nightlife, dining, and parties. My girlfriends and I used to love going to Skybar at Mondrian Hotel, The Belmont, Rock & Reilly’s, Pink Taco and the now closed Hyde Lounge, Pearl’s Rooftop, Bagatelle, and The Hudson. Once I started dating my now husband, we loved date nights at Laurel Hardware, Eveleigh, Katana Robata & Sushi Bar, Ysabel, and STK Steakhouse (which has now relocated to STK Westwood). Even after kids, date nights and group dinners with friends are always memorable in WeHo, especially at Catch, Cecconi’s, Gracias Madre, Toca Madera, and E.P. & L.P.

Before Kids! My 30th Birthday in West Hollywood at Toca Madera

West Hollywood is a fun destination for live entertainment. The music scene is legendary on the iconic Sunset Strip, and my husband I have spent lots of time there before and after kids watching live music and even playing live music — my husband used to play bass guitar in a local band! I’ve watched my husband play at The Viper Room and The Roxy, and we’ve seen some phenomenal shows at The Troubadour and Whisky A Go-Go. Our favorite date nights involve a comedy show, and there’s always top talent at Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store!

West Hollywood is a fabulous destination for working professionals, too, with its multiple co-working spaces and walking accessibility to so many great restaurants and shops! In 2017, I started my own PR business and bought-in at a co-working space called The Wing, which is the perfect place for working moms. The Wing is dedicated to inclusivity and lifting up women in the workforce, and the West Hollywood location was a great place for me to network with other working mommies and attend inspirational events hosted by top women in their respective industries. I once attended a screening and Q&A with Maggie Gyllenhaal that discussed her show “The Deuce” and focused on women in film and media’s portrayal of women. It was really cool! The Wing also has beautiful pump rooms for breastfeeding moms, and I’ve often seen strollers and children wandering around the space while moms work. I gave up my membership during the pandemic to create my own work-from-home space, but prior to the pandemic, The Wing offered “The Little Wing” which was a playroom and babysitting service. I’m not sure if they still have that now, but it was such an outstanding perk for moms – and kids!

Kid-Friendly West Hollywood

When most people think of West Hollywood, they imagine the very adult version of the city with its sexy dining, nightlife and music scenes, but I’m here to tell you that West Hollywood can be a very fun destination for kids, too! Below are the best restaurants, hotels, parks and activities that I mentioned in my “We Know WeHo” podcast interview with Tracy Paaso and Felicia Terwilliger. For all the juicy details on each business, you’ll have to take a listen to the podcast! Since Felicia is currently pregnant, we also discussed some of the best places for moms for prenatal and postpartum self-care! Check out the best WeHo businesses for families listed below, and take a listen to the podcast here! The podcast is also on Apple, Spotify and Google podcasts. My interview starts around the 35-minute mark.  

Enjoying the patio at Hugo’s while we wait for our food

Restaurants:

  • Hugo’s – Expansive menu for adults and great menu for kids! They provide crayons for coloring while you wait for your food! My kids like the macaroni and cheese and sitting on the patio!
  • Mel’s Drive-In – Fun classic diner! Kids food comes in car boxes!
  • Bottega Louie – Kids love the pastries!
  • Justin Quesos – Not necessarily designed for kids, but Tex-Mex is my favorite and kids live the queso and quesadillas! Go early for a more family-friendly atmosphere.
  • Shake Shack – Kids love the fries and frozen custard! Mommy and daddy love the burgers!
  • Carney’s – Iconic LA restaurant in a train car – so fun for kids!
  • Urth Caffe – We enjoy sitting on the patio. Or, you could get the food to go and make the 10 minute walk to Hollywood Park for a picnic!

Shops:

  • Eggy – Not technically in WeHo city limits, but serves many WeHo families with fashionable kids clothes and accessories.
  • Sunset Kids – High-end kids hop – great for gifts and novelty items!

Hotels:

  • Le Parc Suite Hotel – Recently renovated with colorful, artistic decor. All guest rooms are expansive suites with kitchenettes, fireplaces and sleeper sofas, so it is easy for families to make the hotel feel like home. Rooftop pool and rooftop tennis court are nice places for fun and recreation! While most WeHo hotels aren’t necessarily geared toward younger children, Le Parc Suite Hotel and it’s sister properties, Chamberlain and Montrose, are great for kids with their large suites, rooftop pools, access to house bikes and walkability to some of the best restaurants and shops in the U.S.!
  • Ziggy – Not exactly kid-friendly, but an awesome newly renovated property on the Sunset Strip to have a couples staycation without the kids! 

Classes:

  • BOUNCE LA –  An outdoor soft play gym and obstacle course led by fun coaches! Classes are not currently held at any WeHo parks, but they cater to a lot of West Hollywood families at their Coldwater Canyon location. The amazing coaches also host kids birthday parties in local families’ backyards and offer programs for schools!
  • PLAY Music & Art – A great selection of classes for your little artist or musician. This is another business that’s located on the edge of WeHo but serves many WeHo families. They also offer online classes, so you can utilize their classes anywhere!
  • West Hollywood Library Smarty Pants Class – Wonderful music and storytime class that helps prepare little ones for preschool and kindergarten.

Parks:

  • West Hollywood Park – Undergoing a massive renovation that includes a brand-new playground and aquatics center. This will be a fabulous place to take kids once its complete later this year!
  • Kings Road – Quiet, shaded park with a small play structure. Best suited for toddlers.
  • Plummer Park – Nice, small park for a picnic or to play tennis.
Playtime at Kings Road Park

Estheticians for Prenatal and Postpartum Self-Care:

  • SkinLab – Owner Joshua Ross saved my skin from pregnancy’s hormonal acne! He used to be based in WeHo when I was pregnant, but he’s now is located in West LA and South Bay.
  • Dermalogica – This flagship location recently opened in WeHo and has been a great place for postpartum skincare.

Family-Friendly Day Trips From WeHo:

  • Kidspace Museum – An amazing place for children to play and explore in Pasadena!
  • Exposition Park – The California Science Center is a great place for kids to explore and learn!
  • Griffith Park’s Travel Town – If your children love trains, they’ll get a huge kick out of this museum with several old locomotives to explore! There’s also a mini train ride!

Not Mentioned in the Podcast:

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Just outside WeHo city limits, LACMA’s Boone Children’s Gallery hosts drop-in painting classes where their friendly staff provides tips on brush techniques. They even provide high chairs for our littlest artists! They also offer teen classes and camps that you can sign up for on the website. Kids under 17 can join their youth membership called NexGenLA where they can visit the museum anytime for free with a guest for free admission. Even babies can join!
  • The Grove – One of LA’s most beautiful outdoor shopping destinations, The Grove caters to many West Hollywood families (and all families across the LA!). It’s such a fun place for little ones with its trolley and fountains. My favorite restaurants at The Grove with kids are Blue Ribbon Sushi, Umami Burger and The Cheesecake Factory. Everyone loves a special treat from Sprinkles Cupcakes! The Grove has one of my most favorite children’s stores, Janie & Jack, along with a Nordstrom and Gap that offer clothing for kids of all ages.
  • Yardbird Restaurant – Located on the edge of WeHo at The Beverly Center, this is a tasty restaurant with a great kids menu! They serve elevated American classics like fried chicken, shrimp & grits, St. Louis style ribs and grilled blackened salmon. I love their brunch here!

What did I miss? Tell me your favorite family-friendly West Hollywood spots in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram at @maggiehjackson!