When It Comes To Just Dance 2016 We Have No Control

As of today, there are 22 days until Christmas. In my home, that means that the creation of the holiday wish list is in full frenzy. It starts just before Thanksgiving and grows exponentially as the season progresses (Eli’s list can grow by 5 items a day if he’s watching something with commercials), culminating in a few last minute requests as we set the table for Christmas Eve dinner.

Tween Christmas List

The kids know that more items on a wish list don’t translate into more presents under the tree, but I don’t stop them from dreaming. They always wake up full of joy and wonder, even if 90% of the wish list never materializes. I remember spending hours with the telephone book-sized JC Penney catalog, carefully writing out each and every thing I might want, complete with price and item number to make it as easy as possible for my parents and Santa. I don’t recall a single gift that came from those impossibly long lists, but I have plenty of warm and fuzzy memories of dreaming of what might be. So I don’t worry that Eli’s list is a mile long or that Elena had the audacity to ask for braces one year. Kids aren’t greedy – they’re just holiday dreamers.

Still, over the years Mike and I have struggled to find balance in fulfilling their holiday wishes. In the frenzy of holiday spirit and Black Friday/Cyber Monday “deals” that seem to last for weeks as opposed to days, it’s easy to get swept up in buying. Some years we’ve purchased a set number of gifts, other years we’ve gone with the template of “something you want, something you need, something you wear and something you read.” Santa brings each child one special gift and fills the stockings. Even with our mindfulness towards excess and overspending, Christmas in the Six home still brings with it a significant price tag and an influx of things that lose their specialness long before the winter snow has melted.

For that reason, we’re trying something drastically different this year. Instead of buying gifts for Elena and Eli, we’re presenting them with a very special family gift on Christmas morning. I can’t give details on the off chance that one of my offspring decides this would be a fine time to catch up on Mom’s blog, but we’re very excited about it. We sat them down over lunch last week to share this with them, as we didn’t want to spring such a drastic change in the way we do Christmas as they’re coming down the stairs Christmas morning. We started off the conversation quite seriously, with Mike beginning: “We’re doing something different for Christmas this year.” Before we could say anything more, Eli chimed in. “We’re going to church?”

After several minutes of laughing followed by serious questioning regarding the religious upbringing of our kids, we moved on to the details. Santa will still visit, you’ll still have something to unwrap, and we think you’re really going to love what we have planned. They were satisfied, we’re excited, and yes – we’ll go to church on Christmas Eve … like we always do, Eli. Even with this knowledge, it hasn’t stopped the excitement of creating their holiday wish lists. Their lists are drastically different both in length and in interests (Eli’s is all over the place, Elena’s is 99% music and art), but there is one item that made it on both lists as soon as they knew it was an option: Just Dance 2016.

Just Dance 2016 Xbox One Smartphone Controller App

We’ve been huge fans of the Just Dance series of video games since I won a copy in a dance-off. (Yes, you read that right.) We’ve been known to plan entire parties around an excuse to dance with our friends, young and old. Of all the video games we own, Just Dance is the only one that our entire family enjoys playing together. Last year we switched gaming platforms, moving from the Wii to the Xbox. We were beyond bummed when we realized that without the Kinect Sensor we couldn’t play the game we loved. When I learned that Just Dance 2016 comes with a sweet new feature which allows players on new-gen consoles (like our Xbox One) to use a smartphone to play in lieu of the Kinect Sensor, I knew we had to have it.

Thanks to the Clever Girls, we had the chance to move Just Dance 2016 from our holiday wish list to our basement gaming station. The kids were so excited to open up this early Christmas gift and get their groove on. And just like every previous version of Just Dance we’ve ever owned, Just Dance 2016 is an instant hit with the whole family.

Just Dance 2016 Xbox One Smartphone Controller App

Setting up the Just Dance Controller App through iTunes is super easy and fast. We have several generations of iPhones and iPod Touches, and it works equally well on all of them. All you need is iOS 6.0 or greater along with a Wii U, Playstation 4 or Xbox One console. The app is also available on the Windows Store and Google Play.

Just Dance 2016 Xbox One Smartphone Controller App

Just Dance 2016 Xbox One Smartphone Controller App

And just how good is the track selection in the newest version of Just Dance? Well, there’s “No Control” from One Direction on it. I’m sorry – did we need any other tracks? I will master Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” before the new year begins. Elena and I might’ve squealed when we saw “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease in the tracklist. Just Dance 2016 continues the tradition of offering some of today’s hottest and well-known pop tunes with tracks that will appeal to all generations of players.

If you’re looking for a fun family gift that will get everyone moving, dancing and laughing no matter their age or skill level, you can’t go wrong with Just Dance 2016. The fun will last long after the last pine needle is vacuumed up, and it might even offset a few of the Christmas cookies consumed over the holidays. Check out Just Dance 2016, with information on compatible gaming consoles and a complete tracklist, here.

Just Dance 2016 Xbox One Smartphone Controller App

I can’t wait to fill you in on our big Christmas surprise! Until then, you can check out my tips for a simpler Christmas. Looking for more holiday inspiration? Visit my Pinterest Christmas Board. Happy Holidays!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Best Birchbox Finds

Best Birchbox products

You wouldn’t expect someone who considers herself “makeup-challenged” to love her monthly Birchbox subscription so much, but I do. I wrote before about why I’ve been a loyal Birchbox subscriber for nearly two years now, but this time around I wanted to share with you some of my favorite Birchbox finds.

Most of these finds started out as samples that arrived in my monthly Birchbox, and turned into full-size products I purchased on my own. The beauty of Birchbox, other than the fun of opening a new box and discovering all kinds of fun goodies, is in the Birchbox Shop and the point system. Beyond the monthly subscriptions, Birchbox offers a wide range of full-size hair, beauty and skincare products, along with tools and other fun lifestyle products. So whether you sample something in your Birchbox that you love and want more of, or you want to buy other products you already know and love, you can purchase them directly through Birchbox. The prices are highly competitive (often better than Amazon) and you can often score free shipping.

If I I was smitten with the monthly subscription and Birchbox Shop, it was the Birchbox Points that knocked me head-over-hells in love with the brand. You earn points by referring friends (that’s you!), completing a short, on-line review of your box samples and other products, or by purchasing full-size products. For every 100 points you earn, you get $10 off a full-size product. Unlike other reward programs, it’s ridiculously easy to rack up Birchbox points.

Alright, time to stop yapping and show you the pretty!

Best Birchbox Hair Products

Hair Products

Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Nettle: I’ve purchased the full-size version of this twice now, that’s how much I love it! Have you ever tried dry shampoo? I first tried a cheap brand I found at Ulta and didn’t understand what all the fuss was about … until this sample arrived in my Birchbox. You spray it on the roots of your hair to absorb grease and give your hair some lift for that second (and maybe even third) day post-shampoo. The more I use this product and the less I wash my hair (I am for every third day), the healthier my hair seems to get. Elena’s been having issues with oily hair thanks to her ever-changing hormones, and this has been an awesome product for her, too.

Oscar Blandi Pronto Texture & Volume Spray: This is also fabulous for second day hair! I use it to give volume to my hair on day two or three after I’ve blown it out. It’s also awesome for keeping those great beachy waves or curls looking great. It gives hair a sexy, tousled bed-head look without feeling sticky or crunchy.

12 Benefits Instant Healthy Hair Treatment: A lightweight leave-in spray that supposedly does 12 great things for your hair. I rarely use conditioner, but I love using this post-shampoo. For Elena it’s an awesome detangler/smoother. For me, it reduces frizz, protects my hair from the heat of the blow-dryer and straightener, and it smells ahh-mazing.

Best Birchbox Skincare Products

Skincare Products

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser: I am soooo bad about washing my face at night. I know – it’s terrible! Then this little number appeared in my Birchbox and it’s completely reversed my shameful habit! It’s a creamy cleanser that you apply to your face while it’s dry. Then you soak the muslin cloth in hot water and wipe it off. It gets off all my makeup and daily grime effortlessly, and my skin feels so smooth and clean when I’m done. I used to use those disposable makeup remover cloths all the time, and I’d feel so wasteful throwing them away. This feels just as low-maintenance as those, but without the guilt!

Clarisonic Mia: Sadly, no one’s getting Clarisonic samples in their boxes! But this is an example of how rewarding the Birchbox Points system is. I’ve had my eye on a Clarisonic for a couple of years now, but just couldn’t bring myself to splurge on it (see horrible face washing habit above). I saved up Birchbox points, combined my purchase with free shipping and a Birchbox anniversary coupon for 25% off, and scored my very own Mia for $33! I love it, and have noticed a huge improvement in my complexion. I used to have tons of breakouts around my chin and forehead … now I can’t remember the last time I had a single zit.

Whish Coconut Milk Correcting Gel (Not Pictured): They had me at coconut. I used up my sample and I’m waiting on my full-size product to arrive. I use this after washing my face at night. I’ve never used a gel moisturizer before and I’m sold. It’s light, not at all greasy, and it’s helped to diminish the appearance of my blemishes from the good ol’ acne days.

Best Birchbox Foundations and Primers

Foundation/Primers

Marcelle BB Cream: I’ve used this one so much the lettering is wearing off the tube! I don’t wear makeup every single day, but if I’m wearing any kind of makeup it’s this. It’s a handful of product in one, which is my favorite kind of beauty product! It’s a foundation, a moisturizer, and it has just enough tint to even everything out. I got this sample a year ago, and I use it several times a week, and I still haven’t run out of it yet (love the generous sample size on the majority of the Birchbox items). But when I do, I’ll definitely purchase the full-size version.

CoTZ Face Natural Skin Tone: If I want to look pretty out in the sun, I’ll choose this over the Marcelle BB cream. It’s SPF 40, but it goes on smooth and leaves your face with a nice matte finish.

Smashbox Cosmetics Photo Finish Primer: When I’m feeling extra fancy, I’ll start with a layer of primer under my foundation. I don’t know what they put in this stuff, but it goes on super smooth and makes my skin look practically flawless.

Best Birchbox Makeup Products

Makeup

Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner: I’m not the world’s best applier of eyeliner, but this one goes on smoothly and easily and stays put. Looks great as a simple line, looks super sexy when you smudge it for a smoky eye look.

theBalm Cosmetics Hot Mama Shadow and Blush All-In-One: Another fabulous multi-tasker! This shade looks great on just about anyone, and it does double-duty as blush and eye shadow. My go-to simple face is the Marcelle BB cream, this on my eyes and cheeks, a smidge of mascara, and one of the following lip colors. So easy, but I look pulled together.

ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick: This is out of stock right now, and for good reason. I kind of hate lipstick, and prefer lip balm or gloss, but I love this product (although I can’t seem to stop calling it Party Poof). It feels like your favorite balm, but it has the punch of lipstick and it stays on all day.

LAQA & Co. Sheer Lip Lube Pencil: My new favorite, and a perfect example of why makeup samples rock. I took one look at it and thought, “Gah! That is a horrible color!” (Bees Knees Coral, BTW) Then I put it on and it looks gorgeous and so different from anything I ever wear. It moisturizers like a lip balm and it’s nice and minty, too.

While I would LOVE to be on Birchbox’s payroll, they haven’t paid me a dime to promote the brand. I just love it and think (most) of my female readers would love it, too. (Mike tried Birchbox man, but it was a little too pricey and metro for him!) You don’t have to be a Birchbox subscriber to purchase any of these full-size items, but it’s way more fun to be a subscriber. If you are interested, I’d be oh-so appreciative if you would use my referral link (https://www.birchbox.com/invite/angiesix). You’re happy, I earn more of those coveted points … everyone’s happy!

 

 

 

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