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Holiday Gift Guide

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courtesy of Lisa Mercier



I like this Holiday Gift Guide (and I'm not a Shopping Warrior).  The credit for finding all those ideas goes to Lisa.  After you peruse it you may agree that she has done some great research for us.  You can use it to build your local shopping list, or if you are challenged to find time to do your shopping locally, she has provided us with online resources. 


We are impressed with the kajeet phone for children.  But check it out for yourself and compare with other phones and services.  You may be surprised at the low cost and flexibility of kajeet's plans, especially the no contract requirement and the ability for you to locate your child.  You may be pleased when you compare the cost of kajeet with an add-on to your own service.



How to simplify, pare down and focus on the joy of the holidays!

Shannon McGinness


The holidays are here and they can be a very busy and hectic time of year.  With a bit of planning, you can stay organized throughout the holidays!



1. List: Create a Holiday Gift List that itemizes all the people you would like to buy a gift for and list your gift ideas. Create a column to check off once the item is purchased. This list can also be used to set up a holiday budget. Store your holiday gift list in a "Holiday" file folder to be used year after year.


2. Sort: As you get out the holiday decorations, sort them into categories of what you will and will not use this year.


3. Purge: Anything you do not want or that is old, chipped, faded or no longer working should be given away or thrown away.


4. Un-decorate: Remove some of your everyday decorations to make room for the holiday décor. Evaluate the quality of your year-round decorations before you store them. Do you really want this to go back on the mantle after the holidays? Don't store anything you no longer want. Give it away.


5. Decorate: Start with the room that you will be entertaining in most frequently and then continue, room by room until your entire home is decorated for the holidays. Save the original packaging of fragile items for future storage.


After the holidays:


6. Remove: It's time to take down the holiday decorations. Live wreaths and trees should be discarded properly; often they can be recycled into mulch. Any ornaments made of food (popcorn, dried fruit, dough, etc) should be discarded as mice and rats will chew through even the thickest plastic bins to get to the food inside. If it is a very special memento, consider storing it in an airtight metal container. Carefully inspect items for chips, stains and tears before storing decorations and serving ware.

7. Containerize: Get the right containers for each type of decoration you have. Strands of lights and glass beads individually sealed in plastic bags avoid tangles next year. Fragile ornaments stored in their original packaging will best protect each item. Wreaths attached to a flat piece of cardboard and wrapped in a large plastic trash bag will be protected from dust. By containers now, even Big Lots has great choices from Sterilite!


8. Separate most important items: Create a holiday container that stores the holiday items you use first, such as holiday cards and mailing labels. This is the container you open first, either the day after Thanksgiving or on December 1st. In this tub, store ribbon and wire for wreaths and grave blankets. Money cards and $20 bills on hand also make it easier to tip the service people in your life: news carrier, hair stylist, etc.


9. Store properly: When your decorations are stored in sturdy plastic tubs, rather than cardboard boxes, the items will be protected from rodents, insects, and moisture. Holiday decorations that are only used for a few weeks a year can be stored furthest away: think attics, rafters, basements and storage sheds. Store wreaths at the very top so that they don't get crushed and look just as full and vibrant next year.


10. Re-decorate: Consider the placement of your furniture and the use of space on your horizontal surfaces before putting the same year-round decorations back in their previous locations. Is there somewhere with more light that the beautiful ceramic piece could be displayed? Should the candles stay out so that they are used more frequently throughout the rest of the winter?
Enjoy your holiday organizational success and Happy New Year!


If you are overwhelmed by the holidays, consider asking for help. Hire a Professional Organizer to help you stay organized during the holidays and throughout the year. Any expenditure that increases your peace of mind usually is worth the money. Give yourself the gift of sanity! Start the New Year out with more time to enjoy life!


Shannon McGinnis, Santa Cruz's only Certified Professional Organizer, is the founder of Organized 4 Success! Shannon publishes the monthly "Strategies for Success Ezine" which offers free tips, articles, and advice on how to be more organized. If you are ready to be organized, get your FREE Success Strategies from Shannon now at:


Operation Santa Paws Adapted for Santa Cruz County


(Site Photos) DogwithSanta.jpg     YOUR HELP IS NEEDED for holiday toy/treat/supplies collection drive for shelter/rescue dogs and cats.


(Site Photos) DogCaged.jpg     Invite your friends, family, co-workers, etc. to give new toys and bags of treats.


     When you are finished collecting goods at your location on the date you choose, you can deliver your collected items to your favorite shelters. We have shelters at two locations, 7th Street in Santa Cruz and Airport Blvd in Watsonville.


Operation Santa Paws Wish List from Local Shelters

2200 7th Ave, Santa Cruz                                      580 Airport Blvd, Watsonville


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Animal Services can accept the following donations. Other items will be discarded:


* Non-clumping clay cat litter(Special Event Page Graphics) OperationSantaPawsSnuggleToy.jpg
* Wood pellet animal bedding (no pine/cedar shavings)
* Advantage flea treatment for cats and dogs
* SORTED Newspaper (no glossy paper)
* Washcloths(Special Event Page Graphics) OperationSantaPawsLeash.jpg
* Towels
* Blankets (NO comforters, sleeping bags, dogs beds, electric blankets)
* Animal Heating Pads
* Snuggle Safe heating discs for animals
* AA Batteries
* Digital Cameras
* Office supplies(Special Event Page Graphics) OperationSantaPawsDogToy.jpg
* METAL or PLASTIC butter knives, forks, spoons, can openers
* IAMS adult dog food (green bag, small chunks)
* IAMS puppy food (yellow bag)
* IAMS kitten food (purple bag)
* IAMS cat food (orange bag)
* Plastic ball toys for cats

* Kong Toys for dogs
* Plastic ball toys for cats(Special Event Page Graphics) OperationSantaPawsCollarBalls.jpg
* Kong Toys for dogs
* Rope Toys for dogs
* Nylon Collar with Clip - Adjustable with metal tag and leash ring attachment
* 6' Nylon dog leashes - with metal clip
* Snuggle Fleece toys for dogs and cats




Do Your Research About Gift Cards and Store Viability!


     If you tend to give gift cards around the holidays, you need to be careful that the cards will be honored after the holidays.  Stores that are planning to close after Christmas are still selling the cards through the holidays even though the cards will be worthless January 1. There is no law preventing them from doing this. On the contrary, it is referred to as "Bankruptcy Planning". Below is a partial list of stores that you need to be cautious about.  How about CASH? If you know of more stores, please put them into Parent Chat for all of us.


Circuit City (filed Chapter 11)
Ann Taylor closing 117 stores nationwide
Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherine's to close 150 stores nationwide.
Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January.
Cache will close all stores.
Talbots closing down specialty stores

J. Jill closing all stores (owned by Talbots)

Pacific Sunwear (also owned by Talbots)
GAP closing 85 stores
Footlocker closing 140 stores more to close after January
Wickes Furniture closing down
Levitz closing down remaining stores
Bombay closing remaining stores
Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January
Whitehall closing all stores
Piercing Pagoda closing all stores
Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January.
Home Depot closing 15 stores 
Macys to close 9 stores after January
Linens and Things closing all stores
Movie Galley closing all stores
Pep Boys closing 33 stores
closing 133 stores
JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
Ethan Allen closing 12 stores.
Wilson Leather closing all stores
Sharper Image closing all stores
K B Toys closing 356 stores
to close down some stores

Dillard's to close some stores


     Many of these stores are closing some/all of their retail store fronts but will still be accessible for online ordering. Please make sure that your gift cards will be honored online as well.

Make the Parent PlannerWork for You!


     All pages on our site are printable.  With the Parent Planner you can make a list of just the things you are interested in.  When you are on any of our resource pages or on our calendar, you will see a little box next to each listing - when you check these boxes, it automatically places the listing in your Parent Planner. 

     To view your Parent Planner, you can click on the link, Parent Planner, or you can click on the clock at the bottom of these pages and it will direct you to your Parent Planner.  After you have finished, you can email your planner to yourself  --and a friend!  (Your Parent Planner DOES NOT save so make sure to email yourself a copy. After you leave the site, it will reset and you will have to begin the process over.)

(Icons/Graphics) LadyDetectives.jpgEvents

December is full of fun events!

Try our Parent Planner for Easy Planning.

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Santa is at Marini's Weekends


Tues-Weds, 12/2-4 Tall Ship, Hawaiian Chieftain, Dockside Tours, Santa Cruz Harbor

Weds, 12/3 A Christmas Carol Capitola Book Cafe

Weds, 12/3 Poinsettia Sale Cabrillo


Fri, 12/5 Christmas Night at The Farm

Fri, 12/5 First Friday, MAH (free admission)

See full Calendar for Events Details!

Sat, 12/6 Boys and Girls Club Craft Fair

Sat, 12/6 Christmas in the Redwoods

Sat, 12/6 Winter Faire, Waldorf

Sat, 12/6 Christmas Parade, Downtown Santa Cruz

Sat, 12/6 Factory Sale, Watsonville


Sat, 12/7 Jingle Shells Holiday Faire, Seymour Center


(Site Photos) OnceUponAMattressActors.jpgSat-Sun, 12/5-7 Once Upon a Mattress, All About Theatre, Harbor High Theatre (lower parking lot)




Sat & Sun, 12/6 & 7  Holiday Lights Train, Boardwalk

Sun, 12/7 La Honda Fire Brigade Gift Faire

Sun 12/7 Tree Lighting, Scotts Valley

Sat & Sun, 12/6 & 7 Aromas Artisans Craft and Art Fair


Tues, 12/9 Caroling on the Wharf

Thurs, 12/11 Snow Downtown Santa Cruz


Through Jan 11, Ice Skating, San Jose

See full Calendar for Events Details!

(Site Photos) SukiWessling.jpgSuki Wessling's Blog

The Parenting Trap

My mom tells me that when she and my dad were on the way home from the hospital with their first child, they said, What do we do now? and started to laugh. What else could they do? They were Catholics in 1961, and somehow they were just supposed to know how to be a good parent.

They spent ten years having babies, then the next 47 trying to figure them out.

These days we are blessed and cursed with ...  (continued)


Suki Wessling, Aptos, CA,

Writer, stay-at-home mom, educator, web designer, homeschooling parent.

(Site Photos) LorrainePhotoforWeb.jpgNext Teleclass

with Lorraine

December 16, 6pm

The 12 Secrets to Parenting Success
In 12 Interactive Phone Meetings with Lorraine

You're about to learn the 12 Secrets to Parenting Success while Creating the Closeness You Crave with Your Child...for LIFE!

I'll show you step-by-step how to do the 'right parent thing' (not always popular with your kids). These 12 Secrets will inspire your child's gratitude for how you raised him or her.
All my love, and can hardly wait to introduce you to the 12 Secrets! You'll love it. -Lorraine

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Schools K-12




Simcha Preschool Book Fair

12/7 10:30-2pm

Homeschooling Parent Suport Group


GBK: You're A Good Man Charlie Brown


Calendar for Details


Open Houses

Most schools offer shadow days when your child may visit for a day.  Directors welcome you and your questions.  Call to schedule a visit.

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kajeet is the only cell phone service especially for kids!

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Made for teens and tweens whose parents want them to have a cell phone but want to maintain control over it. kajeet is a stand-alone, pay-as-you-go phone with no contract, no activation fees and no surprise bills at the end of the month. kajeet allows parents to keep track of calls and text messages and gives parents the option to block calls and/or texts from specific phone numbers that you don't want your child to receive. 


An optional GPS system gives parents the ability to find the phone at any time. kajeet runs on the Sprint PCS nationwide network, providing quality service and coverage.  Phone plans starts as low as $4.99/month and you are able to add or remove services at any time.


Visit: for more details!

Enter coupon code: SCPARENT at check out and receive FREE Shipping and 15% OFF your order. Check the Local Perks coupons for another Bonus discount when you activate your new phone!

Fresh Prep Kitchens
Fresh n' Ready Dinners to Go...
Take home a delicious dinner tonight!

December 2 through 6:

Oven-Ready Main Dishes
*Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie
*Green Chile Enchilada Bake

2 Locations
Santa Cruz &
Mint, Scotts Valley
Available Tuesdays
starting at 2pm

504 A Front Street

Santa Cruz

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Tyrolean Inn

Bavarian Buffet
with Special Musical Guests

Thursday, December 4th!
This month's music will be an 8 person bell ensemble. Of course, we will be featuring classic German and Bavarian entrees as well as seasonal holiday desserts.
All you can eat!
Bring some friends!

Wild Game Fridays

feature such

rare delights as boar,

pheasant, rabbit,

and venison.
Also, Gluhwein is here -Traditional spiced red wine to warm your

soul and toes!

Tyrolean Inn

9600 Hwy 9

Ben Lomond


Once Upon a Mattress


Come and enjoy this fabulous comedy performed by local talented students aged 7 through 13 years of age, accompanied by a 7-piece orchestra.

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Once Upon a Mattress is a critically-acclaimed musical comedy that opened on Broadway on May 11, 1959 and ran for 460 performances. The play was written as an adaptation of the fairy tale The Princess and the Pea.

Owing to to an unhappy curse, King Sextimus is unable to speak. Meanwhile, his terror of a wife, Queen Aggravian, has taken over control of the kingdom. Most importantly, in an attempt to keep Prince Dauntless by her side, she has decreed that only the princess who can pass her test may marry her son.  Further, no one else in the kingdom may marry until Prince Dauntless does.

All About Theatre

Dec 5-14:Fridays 7pm,Saturdays 7pm,Sundays 2pm,Sat Dec 13 2pm

Special!! Ticket Offer

Here Only

for SantaCruzParent Friends



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Sat Dec 6


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The Wind in the Willows

Shakespeare Santa Cruz

Nov 21-Dec 14

For details go to

full Calendar.

So many parks...

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Parks A-Z

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(Icons/Graphics) Mailbox.jpg     We have Winners -Andrea, Susanna and Carol- and thank you to everyone who entered to win Wind in the Willows tickets.  We wish you all could have won.  Please try again with the next  contest.

     Thank you for inviting us into your mailboxes. If you know of an event for families, or parents only, let us know so we can share with everyone.


Parmalee and Brownie



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Santa Cruz, CA