Tag Archives: Holidays 2020

Children’s Books to Read in December

By Tracey Dowdy

December 1st ushers in a month of holiday celebrations. Some are familiar – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza – while others are a little more obscure, appealing to a, shall we say niche audience. I’m looking at you National Llama Day and National Bouillabaisse Day

With screen time for our kids at an all-time high, alternatives that provide a break, entertain, and dare I say, perhaps even educate, are a great idea. That’s where good old fashioned reading comes in. Here’s a list of books to get you and your littles through December’s snow days, meltdowns, bedtimes, and lazy afternoons on the couch. 

Llama Llama Holiday Drama – Anna Dewdney Llama Llama doesn’t like waiting. He and Mama Llama rush around, shopping for presents, baking cookies, decorating the tree . . . yet Christmas seems to be so far away! But, a cuddle from Mama Llama calms and reminds our favorite little llama that “Gifts are nice, but there’s another: The true gift is, we have each other.”

The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever – Stephen Kroll  In the latest installment of this beloved series, Clayton the town mouse and Desmond the country mouse team up to bring the spirit of Christmas to Mouseville-in a big way. Who will find the biggest tree?

Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale – Eric A. Kimmel  Kimmel, author of the Caldecott winning Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, weaves a charming and imaginative Hanukkah tale that celebrates eight miracles: family, friendship, hope, selflessness, sharing, faith, courage, and love.

The Story of Kwanzaa – Donna L. Washington  From ancestors in Africa to slavery and the civil rights movement, Washington walks us through the the history leading up to the creation of Kwanzaa. Her captivating text is accompanied by gorgeous photographs of contemporary African fabrics and mixed-media illustrations. The book includes activities like how to make your own cow-tail switch and recipes for benne cakes.

The Crayons’ Christmas – Drew Daywalt  ‘Tis the season for writing out those holiday wishlists! But everyone–even the crayons–knows that the best presents are the ones you receive but those ones that you give. Duncan and his friends – including beige crayon who’s now allergic to gluten from coloring too much wheat and gray crayon, who’s celebrating Hanukkah – share how they celebrate the holidays. The book is clever, witty, and includes real letters from the Crayons that kids can remove from their envelopes to read, plus games, punch-out ornaments, a poster, and even a pop-up tree. 

Dasher: How a Brave Little Doe Changed Christmas Forever – Matt Tavares  Rudolph may get all the attention, but that doesn’t mean the other reindeer don’t have a tale to tell! Meet Dasher, a spunky reindeer whose dreams of a different life come true when she meets Santa. Fun fact: Only female reindeer still have antlers at Christmas; the males of the species shed their headgear before mid-December, so, all Santa’s reindeer are actually girls! 

There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell! – Lucille Colandro  Both books are a joyful, rollicking, sleigh ride through rhymes, funny illustrations, and have endings that will have your little ones giggling again and again. It’s a holiday spin on the classic “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe…” that’s sure to become a family favorite. 

It’s Christmas, David!- David Shannon  David – star of the David books – is back and just trying to make it through ‘til Christmas without ending up on the naughty list. From resisting the temptation to peek at his presents to waiting in an endless line to see Santa, David’s all-too-familiar antics will have your kids laughing out loud. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Prep for Black Friday Shopping 2020

How to Prep for Black Friday 2020

Black Friday is just around the corner – November 27, 2020. While many of us will eschew the crowds and instead do our shopping online, whatever you choose, it’s wise to go in with a plan. 

First and foremost, create a budget and stick to it. It’s easy to get carried away with the “steals and deals” promoted online and in-store, but remember, businesses are interested in making a profit, not a friend, so your budget is not their bottom line. Make a list of the must-haves on your list, and compare that to what you can afford to spend. If there’s still room in the budget, start planning additional shopping around that amount. Since many of us won’t be traveling this year due to travel restrictions, make sure you budget for shipping if you’re not having gifts sent directly to the recipient. 

Second, do your homework. This is especially important for those – must-have gifts. Use price tracker sites like CamelCamelCamel for Amazon, or Honey, a free browser extension that automatically finds, tests, and applies the best coupon codes at checkout for over 30,000 popular sites. You can see the price over the past several weeks and compare it to the current deal offered. For example, knowing that the Amazon Echo 3rd-gen smart speaker is going for $30 instead of its regular price of $60 means you’re getting a good deal. Go through online circulars – you can get a sneak peek here – and make a note of the cost of items that catch your eye, then compare with other sites. Better yet, let price comparison apps like ShopSavvy or BuyVia do the work for you. 

Third, opt for curbside pickup or delivery if possible. If you’re shopping big box stores like Walmart, Target, or Macy’s, shop online and pick up items curbside or have them delivered to avoid the crowds and the higher risk of COVID exposure. 

Beware of doorbusters and final sale items. Doorbusters are designed to get you in the store but be aware that these deals are often only available for a limited time, sometimes less than an hour, and there are generally a small number of the item available. Products with a “final sale” tag typically can’t be returned, and if they can be, there’s usually a restocking fee of at least 15%, so that expensive electronic item may not be that great a deal after all. 

As an alternative to Black Friday madness, consider supporting local small businesses by shopping on Small Business Saturday.  Amazon will likely close out the year with record profits, but COVID restrictions have hit small retailers and mom and pop shops particularly hard. This holiday season will be make or break for some of them.

Finally, be kind. 2020 has been a challenge for everyone, and retail workers are among those hit especially hard. Remember, that cashier has no control over inventory or pricing, and the security guard is there for everyone’s safety, not to referee a wrestling match over the last Instant Pot on the shelf. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.