Top 6 Tips for Hosting a Fabulous but Inexpensive Thanksgiving

As Seen on Fox 8 New Orleans, November 23, 2015

For me, the Thanksgiving holiday is about three things: family, food and fun. While I love the holiday season, it is no secret that they can be rough on your pocketbook. To help you avoid “empty wallet syndrome”, I have compiled a list of my Top 5 ways to host a fabulous Thanksgiving without breaking the bank.

Thanksgiving on a Dime

1. Family

  • Make it Personal: Invite guests to the table by name with personalized place mats! I found burlap place mats at a local dollar store for just $1 and used fabric paint and stencils to make each guest feel welcome at the table.
  • Make it Interactive: A Gratitude Tree is a great way to get the conversation started during the Thanksgiving meal. Start with an empty vase and place twigs inside the vase to create a “tree” effect. Make leaves from construction paper and have each family member write something they are thankful for on the leaf before hanging it on the tree. This is a great way to make the kids feel involved!

2. Food

  • Don’t be afraid to go potluck! Use websites such as to coordinate menu items to ensure nothing will be forgotten.
  • Ready to shop? Use the Flipp app to help you find the best deals! This circular shopping app makes hundreds of newspaper circulars mobile and at your fingertips to help you find a bargain on the supplies you need. Did I mention it’s free?
  • Consider making a dessert that goes a long way like a pumpkin spice trifle. For very few ingredients, you can make a dessert with a WOW factor that is not only tasty but will feed in excess of 24 people!

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3. Fun

  • After the food, head outside for a traditional game of football or try a competitive game of “turkey tag.” Color clothespins, add googly eyes and a construction paper beak and you are ready to go! Simply pin a turkey on the back of each player’s shirt. When someone yells “Gobble!” the players race to capture as many turkeys as possible. At the end of a preset time limit, the person with the most turkeys wins!

Quality Food, Unbeatable Prices at Denny’s

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy. As a Denny’s Ambassador, I am compensated for time and effort but all opinions remain 100% mine.

When I say “Denny’s”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For me and my family, it is fluffy pancakes, crispy bacon and sweet syrup. But what if I tell you that Denny’s is so much more than breakfast and offers real quality ingredients such as avocado sliced completely fresh in-store, 100% beef hamburger patties and even veggie burgers made with Amy’s® organic grain patties?

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With a husband who is very health conscience, these facts definitely caught his attention and he was ready for a taste test. Scanning the menu for fit-fare items, he finally decided on the Wild-caught Alaska Salmon (which is wild, natural and sustainable) which comes with a side of steamed veggies.  While healthy options can sometimes be bland, hubby (who admittedly is not a huge fan of salmon), cleaned his plate and said the dish was full of flavor and quite filling as well.

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Of course, the kids still opted for breakfast items (who can resist the pancakes, right?). But, I love that they both opt for seasonal fresh fruit with their meals. Denny’s uses completely fresh fruit and rotates the option based on the season. You will find nothing coming from a can in this dish!

Operation “quality ingredient” was a huge success. The meal was delicious, satisfying and fresh. I am sure we will return soon as my daughters spotted the Holiday Menu complete with Reindeer pancakes that peaked their interest. Till next time, Denny’s!

Build-A-Bear Opens in Lakeside Mall!

My girls were so excited to see the return of Build-A-Bear to Lakeside Mall in Metairie! The store opened it’s doors today with all new features and we were invited to shop and check out the fanfare. To save you searching the mall with overexcited little ones, the new store is in a different location and is now near JC Penney’s.


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Here are a few things you with notice about the new store:

  • A fresh new logo, store set-up and color palette
  • Updated storefront, featuring Build-A-Bear’s distinctive signature teddy bear silhouette
  • Bigger than ever (seven-feet tall!) Build-A-Bear stuffer prominently placed in the store’s center
  • New “Inspiration Wall” displaying different trends and fashions tied to pop culture

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The store is neatly organized and split up into four sections: Pick Me, Stuff Me, Dress Me, and Name Me. It is easy to follow the stations and the Staff engaged my girls through the entire process of picking and creating their new furry friend. While some may be sad to see the bear washing station has left, the store still does offer birthday parties and partners with food vendors right in the Mall for convenience.

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With two fashionistas, they were awestruck at the selection of outfits, shoes and accessories.  The finally decided (after much consideration) to pick a trendy outfit and a Halloween costume. Finally, naming their new friends and taking the all important picture were the icing on the cake.

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With the rainy weather headed to New Orleans on Halloween night, visiting the new Build-A-Bear may be the perfect alternative! Have fun!

Rockin’ the Rockboard Scooter

This post was written by contributing author, Lena. While a product was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

For the past year, my son has wanted an electric scooter. Several of the neighborhood kids have them and he is the only one on the block that still has to use his FOOT to push his scooter along. (Oh, the horror!) Yes, the electric scooters are expensive, but that isn’t the main reason I have been hesitant… it’s the lack of exercise that comes with riding the electric scooter. My son has always been on the heavier end of the growth chart, so his playtime needs to provide exercise too.

Then I heard about the Rockboard Scooter. Oh my goodness! Where has this thing been all my life? If a traditional kick scooter and a bicycle had a baby, it would be the Rockboard Scooter. It kind of looks like a scooter, only bigger, but it has a chain like a bicycle.

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The best part? It isn’t just for kids. When they say, “ages 8 and up”, they really mean it. The original Rockboard Scooter can handle a 200-pound rider and the Rockboard RBX can handle a 220-pound rider! There’s also a Mini Rockboard specially built for the younger crowd, ages 5 & up.

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I was a little worried when I opened the Original Rockboard Scooter because it was heavy. I checked their website and found out it weighs 20.8 pounds. My 10-year-old son, Carson, quickly eased my worries when he told me it is lighter than an electric scooter. Then, he picked it up and carried it down the three steps into our garage while I stood there with my mouth hanging open.

It was raining when we received the Rockboard, so I made him stay in the garage that day. Despite that, it took him about 5 minutes to master getting it to move by rocking his feet back and forth. The next day the rain was gone and he was zooming up and down our street and using the hand brake to slow his descent when some crazy woman (was that me??) yelled, “Slow down!” After about 15 minutes, he came inside to get a drink and he was soaked in sweat. After getting a drink, he went out to ride his Rockboard again. Exercise? Mission accomplished!

Since receiving the Rockboard, Carson has ridden it every chance he gets. He loves it and I love that he is getting so much exercise while having fun. Even better? He is no longer begging us for an electric scooter. In fact, here is Carson’s review of the Rockboard Scooter:

I really love the Rockboard Scooter because you don’t have to push like a push scooter and it goes really fast. It is really hard to break and easy to fold up smaller. It also gets you a good workout because you are pumping your legs over and over. Out of all of my scooters, the Rockboard is my favorite.

If you are looking for a great holiday gift, definitely consider the Rockboard Scooter.  The Original retails for $199.99 and the Mini for the younger crowd sells for $159.99. Happy Scooting!

Meet American Girl: Maryellen Larkin

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

One of my fondest memories as a child is playing dolls with my best friend for hours and hours on end. In an age of electronics, I am thrilled that my daughter loves engaging in pretend play with her friends as well and I could not be happier that the American Girl brand allows her to do just that and learn along the way.


This Summer, American Girl introduced it’s fans to a new character that will expose kids to the 1950s pop culture, Maryellen Larkin. The 18-inch doll will feature cool new accessories including a TV console that works with an iPad, a jukebox that plays ’50’s style songs and my personal favorite, Maryellen’s hairstyling set. But what caught my daughter’s eye the most was the detail in her outfit. The monogrammed sweater and high pony tail tied with a teal ribbon were immediate hits (she was so excited she decided to make her own video).


What is so great about American Girl dolls is that they are so much more than dolls. The authentic clothes, hairstyles and accessories creates an element of mystery and invokes curiosity from my daughter. She starts asking questions about Maryellen which opens up a dialogue about what life may have been like for a girl growing up in the 1950’s. And what’s even better is that the doll comes with a book to tell us just that! I love the quality time spent with my daughter as we read through a few pages each night.


With the holidays just around the corner, my daughter has begun her list to Santa with the help of the American Girl Holiday Gift Guide we received in the mail last week. There is certainly no shortage items she has requested so I have a feeling this will be an American Girl kind of Christmas for us!