A little gift guide for kids with items that kids will love and look great in your home too! Last month, I shared my favourites from Etsy and then last week shared our favourite holiday books. These picks are toys we love or are on our list. As we all know, what our children truly want is our time, energy and love. That and more food than I ever imagined, HA! If you are like me and feel your kids have all that they need, please use this guide simply as suggestions of fun ideas you can give to friends or family who insist on buying something for your kiddos. There are prices ranging from $15 - $275 so hopefully everyone can find something that suits what they are looking for. Please note all items below can reach you before Christmas if you order today (some even later)!

Gift Guide for Kids 2017

01. // Soft Doll; 02. // Cloud Rug; 03. // Pull Bunny; 04. // Translucent Magnatiles; 05. // Wood Tetris; 06. // Lamb Pillow; 07. // Castle Blocks; 08. // Hazel Bunny; 09. // Robot Clock; 10. // Cool Speedster; 11. // Art Subscription; 12. // Mini Guitar; 13. // Puppet Theatre.


Kids room with Christmas books on shelf

If you've been following along for a while, you will know that I LOVE children's books as much as book walls and try to encourage reading in every way I can in our household and in client spaces. 

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Book walls provide an easy way to display different toys and of course, books! At this time of year, I switch up the every day books for books about winter, Christmas, Hanukkah, whatever else that feels like December and holidays for your family!

Little boy reading Christmas story

A few years ago, we wrapped up books for an all-book advent calendar and it was the perfect way to start a family collection of stories for this time of the year. The following years we have given the kids a new book on December 1st to launch the holiday fun. If introduced right from the start, books are loved by all. They will make the perfect gift for your own little ones but also make lovely gifts for cousins, nieces, nephews and any little friends.

Here are some of our tried and true favourite Christmas / holiday / December books!

Melissa Barling Vancouver blogger picks holiday books for children

01. // The Christmas Quiet Book; 02. // The Polar Express; 03. // Snowmen at Christmas; 04. // A Christmas for Bear; 05. // Christmas Wombat; 06. // Bear Stays Up For Christmas; 07. // Belle & Boo A Very Merry Christmas; 08. // Little Blue Truck's Christmas; 09. // Twas The Night Before Christmas; 10. // Hannukah Hop; 11. // The Jolly Christmas Postman; 12. // The Little Reindeer.

We also LOVE 'Little Robin's Christmas' but I couldn't find it in stock anywhere online. It is a lovely story so check your local bookstore to see if it is there.

Happy reading...

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Kids Christmas playhouse cubby house
Kids wooden playhouse decorated for Christmas

Our little wooden playhouse is all decorated for Christmas!!! You may remember the summer makeover of this cubby house from last year and I finally got a few things together to decorate it for the holidays. I had this idea to surprise the kids with a fun afternoon outside eating shortbread cookies and drinking hot cocoa and I am so thankful we did it before the crazy rain started because they LOVED it!

kids in playhouse

The white lit birch trees were such a fun addition that I will move inside later; one for the girls' room and one for Xavier's.

playhouse cafe menu

We swapped summer lemonade for hot cocoa and the menu changed to include cookies, brownies and candy canes (kids dream menu!). All three kids wanted to take turns 'serving' the others and the shortbread cookies were gobbled up nearly instantly.

playhouse cafe
playhouse cafe at christmas
mini shortbread cookies stars and trees

I just love the unexpected colours in the peppermint garland from Pearl and Jane. It's so cute for the playhouse and would be equally as adorable as holiday decoration in a children's room!

playhouse cubby house decorated for christmas
playhouse hooks
JOY garland

I adore the little details in our playhouse: the tiny HO HO HO banner, gold drop garland and JOY banner are all from Etsy. So many creative makers that I love to support! I just had to include this photo of our youngest smiling broadly and poking over the door. 

Xavier front door playhouse

If you missed the original makeover, you can find that post here. I hope you find inspiration and a little fun from our holiday playhouse.



kids summer playhouse


*Thank you to Minted for sponsoring this post. All wording, photos and opinions are my own. 

kids christmas card photo
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CHRISTMAS PHOTO BY Amanda Haddow Photography

I am SO excited to share this year's annual Christmas cards with you all, my favourite yet! These simple and classic holiday cards from MINTED are absolutely perfect; I couldn't be happier with them. The moment I opened the box and saw them, I knew I chose the right photo and template. A couple of weeks ago I shared an outtake from the actual shoot and when I saw this shot, I knew right away that this was the one of the kids I would use for our cards. Isn't it just the sweetest?!

Last year, I shared tips on how to how to get your Christmas cards done early and this year, I want to tell you the steps and thoughts that I considered when setting up for the photoshoot and then ordering our holiday cards online.

For the shoot:

  1. KEEP IT SIMPLE: the important thing is making the experience fun and getting the kids excited for the upcoming season! Put on Christmas music and pull out your best knock knock jokes...they still work perfectly for photoshoots with our kids! Here's one our kids think is hilarious:


    "Knock knock"

    "Who's there?"


    "Mary who?"

    "Mary Christmas!

  2. CHOOSE COORDINATING COLOURS: When I pulled out outfits for the kids, I knew I wanted to keep things classic this year and so we chose light grey, red and added a hint of green with the wreath. I love how the gold foil-pressed lettering pops with the simplicity of the card. Gold is my favourite metallic for the holidays and I add it in wherever I can!

  3. PLAY HOLIDAY MUSIC: Our kids LOVE Christmas tunes year round and when I tell them we can put a little Michael Buble on early when we take the photos for the cards, they are always VERY excited!!! It secretly gets me in the mood for the holidays a little early too.

  4. CHOOSE A BRIGHTLY LIT ENVIRONMENT: If weather permits, an outdoor shoot is the best! This year, the rain was pouring down on photoshoot day and so we choose a well lit wall next to the brightest window in the house to snap a few photos of the little ones. Good lighting goes a very long way to capturing a great photo!

That's it! Follow those four steps and you are set to capture your cuties in a shot that will be the feature of your holiday card.

writing Christmas cards from Minted
christmas cards

When I went to the Minted site, I was blown away by the vast number of template options. Sit down with a glass of wine (or tea!) and take your time in choosing a template that works with your chosen photo. Since my photo was shot with white space at the top, it made sense to have text at the top of the card and therefore eliminated options where text was at the bottom (which helped to cut down the decision making). I loved so many templates and I knew I wanted to see the wreath on the card so although I love the middle one below, I decided not to go for it due to the wreath not fully showing. My favourites were Merry Scriptmas, Simply Shining, Simple Frame and of course the template I ordered, Merrier than Ever. It was a hard decision, I love them all!!!

One of the biggest differences this year is the system Minted has for addresses! In the past, I have struggled to get out cards sent out to everybody and this year, I had to collect all of our addresses at the time I ordered the cards so that they could be printed on the amazing is that!?!! It literally took a day to message everyone and get the addresses together, probably in part that I wasn't doing it late into December and when I opened the package to see all of the envelopes labelled and addressed, I almost feel this is the best part. I will write a Christmas greeting on the cards, pop a stamp on and head straight to the mailbox...SO much easier than having to write out all of the addresses! I love this system and now have all of our addresses in one place for future cards.

If you noticed the super cute cocktail napkins in some of my photos, I found those at Minted too. They have lots of fun holiday decor to add to your order so go take a look!

Right now and through the weekend enjoy 15% off holiday cards with code BEMERRY.