Houston BESTIES 2017: Prizes and Sponsors

Thanks so much to all who participated in the first-ever Houston Bestie Awards.  This contest closed on November 26th, 2017.  For a full list of winners visit the Houston Bestie Guide.

We're so excited to share the love with the small local businesses that make parenting in Houston the BEST.  To thank you for telling us who your Besties are, Mommy Poppins, together with our sponsors, is proud to offer these fun and fabulous prizes!

When the Bough Breaks: Christmas Tree Recycling Around Houston

Growing up in my parents' house, the Christmas season began with Advent, not Black Friday, and lasted until January 6 - the celebration of Epiphany. This meant not one ornament, nativity scene, or wreath was removed until the wise men had delivered their gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And the tree - the one "we" (mainly my mother) painstakingly picked out and meticulously decorated - shone brightly with multi-colored lights every night even after we returned to school from winter break. Nowadays, people seem to hang decorations as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is carved and there are scarcely any vestiges of Christmas to be seen by New Year's Day.

So, whether your traditions include chopping down your own Norman Rockwell-worthy tree or adorning something more akin to Charlie Brown's, when the branches start to brown and that heirloom glass ornament is looking precarious, it's time to un-trim that tree and kick it to the curb - literally. Houston and the surrounding areas offer several ways to recycle your tree after the holidays. Be sure to remove all tinsel, lights, ornaments, stands, etc beforehand (flocked trees are not accepted). And if you need to get rid of holiday string lights, bring them with you when you check out Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo. There is a receptacle near the entrance.

17 Things to Do on New Year's Day with Houston Kids

For many people, News Year's Day tends to be a lazy day of recovering from the previous evening's festivities. But once children come along it is nearly impossible to stay in bed all day relaxing or have a four-hour long brunch with friends. If you celebrated New Year's Eve with the family, you should be ready to go on January 1, or if you happened to snag a babysitter and enjoyed some champagne, chug that coffee and get ready to start the year off right with some memorable family fun! Here are 17 ideas for how to spend the first day of 2017 in and around Houston (and you can also check out our guide to family fun throughout winter break). 

(Big) Screen Time: Where to Watch Holiday Movies in Houston

Nothing says winter quite like curling up on the couch in flannel pajamas and watching a holiday movie with a big bowl of popcorn (or if you're me, Blue Bell peppermint ice cream). But this year, why not take the tradition out of the house, outside even, and enjoy a classic holiday flick on the big screen. You have plenty of choices - from It's a Wonderful Life to Elf - and there is something playing almost every day of December, and a few in January. (For those of you who say bah-humbug to holiday movies, check the end of the list for a few outdoor Festivus options).  

And if you happen to be in one of these neighborhoods or the kiddos are still awake after an evening show, check out these spectacular light displays on your way home. You won't be disappointed! For all holiday-related events and activities, check out our Christmas and Hanukkah guide.

16 Things to Do With Out-of-Town Guests in Houston

Entertaining visitors can be a daunting task because, if you're like me, you want to show them the best time EVER and impress with your insider knowledge of your home city. And if you are also like me, this quickly becomes overwhelming because Houston is just. so. big. No fear, we've put together a list with 16 of the best things to do.

However, if you just want some ideas for activities, you can always spend a few hours at a trampoline park, ice skating rink, or test your family's skills at an escape room. And if the weather is appropriate, check out an area splash pad.

STEM Camps and Classes for Robotics, Coding, and Engineering Fun

It's no secret that today's kids will need a robust education in STEM subjects to thrive in an economy exploding with science and technology careers. Both in and outside of schools, educators and parents are looking for ways to provide more science, technology, engineering, and math studies for children. There are many programs out there, but which ones really teach the skills that kids need? We checked out a Sylvan Learning EDGE class to see what Sylvan Learning, long-known for tutoring and test prep programs, offers with its Sylvan EDGE STEM programs.

Sylvan EDGE offers six week programs for kids from grades 1 to 6 in Robotics for Kids, Engineering, Coding for Kids, Math EDGE, plus Sylvan EDGE Camps. My 10-year-old son tried out a Robotics for Kids class, and it definitely stood apart from many of the other STEM activities we’ve tried.

Weekend Fun for Houston Kids: Frost Fest, Night Markets, Christmas Under The Big Top, Dec 16-18

Christmas and Hanukkah are almost here! That means you have about a week to complete everything on your holiday bucket list, so let us help you with that! Here is a list of places to take a photo with Santa as well as places to enjoy a meal or just hot cocoa and cookies with St. Nick. Are you still looking to donate all those clothes or toys your kids are done playing with from last year? There is still time! We have a list of holiday toy drives in Houston that are awaiting your generous donations. For something to do during winter break with the kids consider scheduling a holiday gift-making workshop.

If you are staying in town for the holidays, or maybe you have a ton of family coming to visit, here are some great things to do with everyone on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Also, check out our list of holiday performances all over town. Maybe you don't want to cook for everyone and would rather have someone else do the heavy lifting? This list of restaurants open on Christmas Day is what you need to read.

Be sure to check out our holiday guide for the best things to do this season as well as our recommendations for the best things to do as a family in December. Remember to sign up for our weekly newsletter to read about fun things to do each weekend in Houston. Here's the event lineup for Houston this weekend:

Santa Visits 100 Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us Stores in 2016

Count your local Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us as one more spot where you can score that cute photo with Santa.

The national toy and baby gear retailer teamed up with WorldWide Photography to bring a Santa photo package experience to 100 select stores across the country in 2016, including in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, Texas, and California.

Calling Santa: Mostly Free Apps for St. Nick Fun with Kids

Ready or not, Santa Claus is coming to town, and the kids couldn't be more excited. Thanks to technology, families today have a lot more ways than a quick photo with the mall Santa to catch up with (or just plain catch!) the jolly bearded man. 

Now kids can talk directly with St. Nick via the phone or an app, track his progress on Christmas Eve, and even watch a live reindeer cam. Want to really blow their minds? There are apps that let you share a photo of Santa handing out presents in your very own living room. Christmastime is already among the most magical seasons for children, but these fun tools take it to the next level. Read on for our favorite ways to check in with Santa before Christmas and follow all his antics on Christmas Eve. Our special gift for you: These 11 special Santa experiences are (mostly) FREE!


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