ECHOage – Throw a Party. Give a Gift. Do Good.

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Facebook @echoage @ECHOage_parties

We are all blessed. I’m hoping you too have more toys that you know what to do with, more clothes than you have room for and as a holiday or birthday approaches you wonder how you could possibly fit anything else in the space where you live!

In talking to lots of friends – especially as their second child’s milestones approach – the idea of “no gift parties” has come up a lot. Also while the idea of contributing towards one big gift is one most people like, a classy way to ask for it has yet to exist. Then there’s the top shelf gift request – “in lieu of a gift, please donate to X charity in the guest of honor’s name”.  I love all of these ideas. Which is why when I heard about ECHOage – I wanted to learn more.

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Created to provide the go-to solution for “a better way to celebrate,” ECHOage streamlines party hosting and gift giving, while teaching charitable kindness and generosity. The party host simply chooses an ECHOage online invitation, the desired gift for guests to contribute towards, a charity to support, enters the party details, and hits “send”. Once sent you can effortlessly track and manage RSVPs, notes from guests, and the gift/charitable contributions in real-time.

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At the time of RSVPing, your guests can gift any amount – with half going towards the guest of honor’s big ticket item (and honestly they’ll like it better than the clearance item you bought after giving up because nothing magically shouting “Me! Pick me! I am the perfect gift for your child’s friend you never heard of”!) and half going to the charity of your choice.

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What was that? Did you say donating to a charity? Why yes! For gifts over $30 you get a tax deductible receipt to show Uncle Sam how freaking savvy you are as a gift giver.

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So you’re telling me it is a win-win. ECHOage‘s online service makes inviting guests to parties less stressful, gift giving more meaningful, and you save on your taxes? Perfection.

ECHOage‘s vast array of invitations include kid’s birthdays, adult parties, baby/bridal showers, baptism/communion, bar/bat mitzvahs, and more. Some of their most popular requested gifts have been tablets, bicycles, sports gear, and cameras – to name a few.

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While being charitable is an around-the-year sport, as the holidays approach, think about sending out your party invitations through ECHOage. You can capture the true holiday spirit and teach your kids (and yourself) a lesson about giving back. They’ll get the (enter ridicules thing they HAVE TO HAVE that you refuse to buy here) they want and you’ll know it can fit in your house. Unless it’s one of those giant stuffed animals nobody should own.

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Since its launch in 2008, over 20,000 parties have raised nearly 5 million dollars for charities such as Autism Speaks, CancerFree Kids, Free Arts, Healthy Child Healthy World or one of the other 300+ charities in ECHOage’s roster. More importantly ECHOage celebrates young children as Heroes to “echo” or acknowledge their charitable accomplishments. Take a look at the page. The smiles are pretty big!

Don’t believe me? Check out this article from one of my favorite brands – Mabel’s Label’s – about the “10 Reasons to Host a Birthday Party That Gives to Charity”. They had me at chocolate… Hey – while you’re there, help support my daughter’s school and buy some labels!

Now what will you do with all that newly gained free time you previously wasted buying birthday presents? Feet up. TV on. Lemon drop martini in hand. (Oh is that just my fantasy?)

******Giveaway******

You may know I’m OBSESSED with the newest shoe innovation for the winter – the Stride Rite Snoot. It is the first snow boot that transforms into a sneaker so your child can wear it all day in school! I know. I can’t deal.

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Enter to win a pair of Snoots (!) by commenting below with your most clever post-gift opening strategy. Do you have return, regift, reallocate to other holidays piles? Give us the scoop and we’ll give you the Snoot (and PS – there’s a Frozen one! I told you – I can’t deal!)!

Winner chosen Friday, November 6, 2015.

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In Grump Do Not Wallow & Color Will Follow

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Facebook @carebearsfriend #ShareYourCare

If you are like me, just the simple mention of Care Bears makes you smile. It brings back memories from my youth where the “care bear stare” could right any wrong. I was so excited when my daughter started getting interested in them as it is much easier to stomach an interest I, myself, share (bear).

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Enter the newly released Care Bears: Mystery in Care-A-Lot DVD featuring three mystery themed episodes chock full of friendship and good cheer, and right in time for Halloween. In this delightful collection – that kids and their families will love – the Bears show the power of caring and sharing as they transform bad dreams into sweet ones, solve the mystery of the legendary Scare Bear, and save Care-a-Lot from turning into Grump-a-Lot! This DVD is for you if you agree that this time of year brings a challenge to find sweet, non-scary Halloween entertainment for kids too young to appreciate the scary face from Scream.

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This face is scarier than the face from Scream.

While I enjoyed “Nightbears” and “Sleuth of Bears”, my favorite episode by far was “Welcome to Grump-A-Lot”. From the first scene that includes BBQ’d pigs in a blanket to Grumpy bear’s use of solar panels for his tv, this episode had me smiling.

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Who among us has not had a day (or decade) where they can identify with grumpy bear? But this episode has a nice twist where after a grumpy storm hits an alternative grumpy universe takes over in Care-A-Lot and reshapes Grumpy bear view of himself.

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Much like the movie whose title I can’t think of, after a big storm, Grumpy bear wakes up in an alternate universe where not just him but everyone is grumpy. All his cheerful Care Bear friends harrumph about giving him the grumptastic treatment he usually dishes out. As the episode unfolds he sees from his mistakes and realizes being grumpy all the time isn’t the best option. He sees the light and turns his grump-infested friends back to their smiles one by one. He learns that while we all get frustrated, we must all learn to control our emotions.

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Two non-Grumpy Share Bear snugglers

By far my favorite line of the whole episode was “In grump do not wallow & color will follow”. Isn’t that a great line? Thinking broader than Care Bears, no matter how old you are, think for a few moments about this line. It’s really good advice, right? I love having an “AHA!” moment in the last place I would expect (I miss Oprah).

So if you are looking for a new DVD to enjoy with your kids that is non-scary and perfect for the Halloween season, check out Care Bears: Mystery in Care-A-Lot. YOU and your kids will enjoy it.

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In honor of Halloween’s fast approach, The Mint Chip Mama will be giving away two copies of the new DVD Care Bears: Mystery in Care-A-Lot!

To win comment below with who your favorite Care Bear is and be sure to include what’s on their tummy!

Winners chosen 10/22 – with enough time to get the DVD to you by Halloween night!

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But wait! Everyone is a winner today – please enjoy the Care Bear Halloween coloring sheet below!

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If you too are a Care Bear fiend, check out a sneak peak of the new Netflix Original Series premiering Nov. 6: Care Bears and Cousins.

And of course you can see all kinds of Care Bears entertainment right here on YouTube.

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