An Amazing Make-Ahead Italian Christmas Dinner Menu

An Amazing Make-Ahead Italian Christmas Dinner Menu


A few years ago, I thought it’d be fun to try something new and host an Italian themed Christmas dinner. Having the same foods year in and year out was tiring, especially since many of the Christmas dinner recipes are similar to what we eat on Thanksgiving. My grandpa on my dad’s side is Italian and so every Christmas Eve as I kid, I remember us having garlic bread, linguine and clam sauce, lasagna and chicken cutlets. I loved that we did something different from other families and was always really excited for Christmas Eve dinner.

Italian themed Christmas dinner menu ideas and decorations
My great-grandparents

When I decided to host an Italian themed Christmas dinner, it was really difficult coming up with uncomplicated Italian recipes that kids would also eat (I hadn’t had my daughter at that time but I did have nieces and nephews). This is why I decided to make a menu that has a lot of pre-cooked, quick and simple recipes since I know that moms (and most other people) don’t have a ton of time on their hands. It’s also nice to have food that is pre-made (but homemade) so that you can actually enjoy your family on Christmas day.

So the recipes…My grandma wasn’t Italian but she married one so by default she made amazing Italian food because that was what my grandpa liked best. She made awesome lasagna, baked ziti, meatballs, the list goes on and on. She didn’t have the most legible handwriting though. This is what I have to work with…

Italian themed Christmas dinner recipe ideas quick and easy
I have no clue what this says…

Instead of trying to dig up the family recipes, I thought that I’d enlist the help of some other awesome bloggers who have recipes that remind me of what my grandma used to make for our family meals.

Not all of these menu ideas are necessarily served during a traditional Italian Christmas dinner but I tried to find recipes that you can either make ahead or that are quick and effortless to make the day of. Likewise, I attempted to find recipes for food that kids will actually eat. I really hope that you enjoy these fresh flavors of Italy!

Disclaimer: A link on this page is for an affiliated product on Amazon. If you make your purchase through that link, Surviving Til Bedtime will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my website.

Italian Christmas Dinner Menu

Drinks: Prosecco or Chianti

Italian themed Christmas dinner recipe ideas quick a

I’m not a huge wine drinker but there is something nice about a glass of wine with a delicious Italian dinner. I also love wine in the Winter (it just warms you so much better than beer). My dad bought me this Ruffino Prosecco Wine when he was visiting this past weekend and it’s perfect for the holidays! This is a sparkling Italian wine and it’s also fairly inexpensive. If you prefer red, I’d recommend a Chianti because it goes great with lasagna (which we’ll get to, don’t worry). Even better, pick up a few bottles of each type and you’ll really have a rocking Christmas party!

Appetizer: 5 Bread Dipping Oil Recipes by Swanky Recipes

5-Bread-Dip-Oil-Recipes Christmas Italian Dinner Menu Ideas Fast Simple
Photo by Swanky Recipes on

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with bread and oh my gosh, bread and a dipping sauce? I’m in heaven. These dipping oil recipes are perfect for a holiday dinner because you can whip them up in a few minutes yet everyone will be impressed when you tell them you made these from scratch. I think all 5 of these dipping oil recipes from Swanky Recipes will work well for an Italian Christmas dinner so go ahead and choose whichever one you prefer (or you can even make all of them!)

Appetizer: Best Homemade Giardiniera (Hot or Mild) by The Daring Gourmet

Italian Christmas Dinner Menu Ideas Easy and Quick
Photo by The Daring Gourmet On

I absolutely love anything pickled! I partially found out that I was pregnant with Amelia because I couldn’t stop eating pickles during Thanksgiving dinner and then again a few weeks later at my nephew’s birthday party. Giardiniera is delicious! It’s so tangy that I can’t stop nibbling on it when it’s served as an appetizer. The Daring Gourmet’s Giardiniera is great because she shows you how to prepare it step by step and gives you the option to make it mild or hot (I prefer hot but I’m from California so I love spicy food). Her page shows how to can the Giardiniera so you could make pints of them months in advance, if you wanted to.  I actually like the idea of making a jar for Christmas dinner and then giving the remaining jars to guests as Christmas gifts! Canning the Giardiniera prior is perfect because then the day of, all you have to do is open a jar. How easy is that?

Appetizer: Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Meatballs by Spoonful of Flavor

Italian Christmas dinner menu recipe ideas easy and quick
Photo by Spoonful of Flavor on

Meatballs are always a hit at any holiday family gathering but these meatballs take it up a notch. Inside the meatballs, there is “real mozzarella cheese”, as my grandpa would say. This makes them deliciously cheesy. My grandpa would definitely approve! I love Spoonful of Flavor’s meatball recipe because they seriously take under half an hour to make! You can also stick a little toothpick in them, making them easy to serve to guests. FYI to parents though, there is wine in the marinara sauce. Usually wine will cook out but if you’re worried about it, you can always prepare a separate sauce for the kids to enjoy.

Salad: Italian Chopped Salad With Fresh Italian Dressing by Small Town Woman

Italian themed Christmas menu ideas recipes simple quick
Photo by Small Town Woman at

I seriously love salad during the holidays. It’s extremely refreshing to bite into a delicious salad since most holiday foods aren’t necessarily healthy for you (but they are oh so good). This salad is full of salami, mozzarella, tomatoes, and my favorite, pepperoncini peppers. It’s a beautiful dish to look at, is quick to prepare, and has tons of flavor. I love how Small Town Woman makes her own Italian dressing for this salad as well. Your guests will definitely be asking you for this recipe before they head home!

Vegetable Side: Easy Garlicky Sauteed Broccolini by She Loves Biscotti

Italian themed Christmas menu ideas recipes simple quick
Photo by She Loves Biscotti on

I just adore this recipe! It’s very similar to how I cook broccolini for my family but She Loves Biscotti adds nuts to the party which brings this broccolini to another level! This recipe is so simple but the flavors are completely well-rounded and enormously fresh tasting. This is a perfect addition to any meal because it adds something light and healthy, as well as, only taking 15 minutes to prepare!

Entree: Classic Lasagna by Great Grub, Delicious Treats

Italian Christmas Dinner Recipe Ideas Easy and Quick
Photo by Great Grub, Delicious Treats on

As a kid, lasagna was always a go-to meal when we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. That’s because it’s such a comforting, crowd pleasing food. If the entire family was visiting, we’d have over twenty people for dinner. That’s a lot of lasagna! Good thing it’s the perfect food to make ahead of time and freeze (just make sure you remember to give yourself enough time for it to defrost). Before the holidays, my parents still make lasagna and freeze it so that they can spend time with us when we’re visiting. It’s also great because you can make a few batches at a time without putting in much extra effort. A few weeks before Christmas, cook one tray for dinner with your family that night and freeze another tray to save for Christmas day.  Even though we traditionally used ricotta cheese, I love Great Grub, Delicious Treat’s idea of using cottage cheese. It’s a great way to cut the calories a bit (though I mean it’s lasagna, just enjoy yourself for the night and work out extra hard the next week).

Entree: Oven Roasted Turkey Breast with Herbs and Wine by Chew Nibble Nosh

Italian Christmas dinner menu ideas easy for moms, fast
Photo by Chew Nibble Nosh on

I had to add a turkey recipe because it’s not really Christmas without turkey (and from what I’ve read, most Italian’s today do eat turkey on Christmas so hey I’m not getting too crazy here). I love this recipe by Chew Nibble Nosh because it just uses the turkey breast instead of the entire turkey, making this the perfect recipe for anyone who doesn’t have a ton of time on their hands (it takes less than 3 hours!) Delicious Italian herbs and white wine (or apple juice if you prefer for the kids) make this turkey really stand out. I definitely think this turkey recipe may just be your new go-to recipe for a stress-free Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner!

Dessert: Panettone Italian Christmas Sweet Bread by An Italian In My Kitchen

Panettone Italian Christmas dessert
Photo By An Italian In My Kitchen on

So looking at this picture is seriously making my mouth water. The kids are gonna go crazy for this dessert (especially if you use chocolate chips). You can always buy a panettone loaf but if you’re comfortable baking at all, I would really recommend trying this recipe. Everything just turns out so much better if it’s made from scratch. This bread really doesn’t take much hands-on time, it just needs to rise awhile. This would be perfect to make the weekend before Christmas and then pull out for dessert the day of. Then all you have to do is just sit and wait to hear the compliments start rolling in! It’s best to eat the bread within 3 days though.

If you’re not sure what sort of panettone mold to use, check out this Panettone bread pan from Amazon.

There you have it guys! A stress-free Italian Christmas dinner menu. So turn on your Frank Sinatra Christmas album (my favorite of all time), light a few candles and enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner with your friends and family! Bon appétit!


My Top 10 Best Toddler Gift Ideas Under $20

My Top 10 Best Toddler Gift Ideas Under $20


I’ll just say it, I’ve never really bought toys for Amelia in the past. I’m always trying to cut back on the clutter in our house and Amelia has grandparents and aunts/uncles who spoil her enough that I haven’t necessarily felt the need to buy her much, over the past two years of her life. Of course, she is finally getting to that age where she understands the idea of a gift and enjoys receiving them which makes it way more difficult for this compulsive declutterer. I’ve decided that this Christmas, I’ll buy her a few small but special toys, though I’m definitely not going to go overboard. When I do buy a gift for her, I want to buy her something that she will really enjoy and use for many years to come (not just play with for 6 months and then outgrow). Maybe I’m naïve because I’ve only been a parent a few years, but I’m hoping that she will be able to grow with her toys, therefore I’ll be getting a good run for my money.

gifts christmas for toddler under $20
Photo by Tookapic on

I don’t know what Amelia will end up loving in the future, but I thought I’d help the grandparents, aunts/uncles, and even parents with some toddler holiday gift ideas. Believe me, I have bought or been given toys that Amelia hasn’t looked twice at so it’s awesome to get a list of the tried and true toys that kids will actually play with.  Obviously each child has different taste so I’m not making any guarantees here but this is a list of toys that have really gotten good use. Amelia has had most of these since she was a year old and is still playing with them to this day! If you’re more into giving your toddler a book instead of a toy, please check out my list of books that Amelia can’t get enough of. With Christmas around the corner, I hope that this list makes your holiday shopping a little easier!

Disclaimer: A link on this page is for an affiliated product on Amazon. If you make your purchase through that link, Surviving Til Bedtime will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my website!

The List

1.Mega Bloks Big Building Bag:

christmas holiday toddler gift ideas inexpensive
Commonplace around our house. Why is it always such a struggle to just get them to pick up their toys?🤷‍♀️

 Amelia received these blocks as a gift when she was one and has played with them since then! I love that they are large so baby/toddlers can start using them at a young age. When Amelia was younger, she would play with them a little but now that she’s two, she is completely obsessed! She is constantly wanting me to open the bag for her so that she can build. She builds tall towers, builds houses and stables for her “little animals”, sorts the blocks by color, I throw them on the ceiling in an attempt to kill spiders while Amelia hysterically laughs. True story. I didn’t hit the spider but I did magically get one in the toilet. Score!

christmas holiday toddler gift ideas inexpensive
Totally normal

Amelia is constantly walking around with a block in each hand. She even brought them with her to bible school last week. If she loves these blocks this much, they are a winner in my book! I also like that these are great learning tools for her. They help her with her colors as well as her mathematical skills.

2. Play-Doh- Sweet Shoppe Cookie Creations: All kids love Play-Doh. You really can’t go wrong with this one! I really like this Cookie Creations Play-Doh set because it’s inexpensive and it also has larger pieces so it’s good for kids of all ages (though still keep an eye on them).  This Play-Doh set has cookie cutters, a rolling-pin, pretend frosting, etc. Your little one can “bake cookies” in the kitchen while you make dinner! I always put Amelia in her high chair when she plays with Play-Doh. That way she’s contained, has a tray that I can easily wipe down, and I know that I’m not going to find bits of Play-Doh in my carpet. It’s such a simple toy but really keeps her busy for a long time. It’s also something that she’ll probably still like as she gets older! You can always replace the actual Play-Doh if it gets too dried out (or eaten)… Maybe she doesn’t realize they’re not real cookies? I mean, it can get confusing.

3. Leapfrog AlphaPup

christmas holiday toddler gift ideas inexpensive
Isn’t he cute?

Amelia received her AlphaPup as a gift for her first birthday and she still loves it! This toy has actually taught her how to say the words “apple” and “up”. The puppy also sings the ABC’s! It’s super cute because it has a little leash so Amelia can walk the dog all around the house. Also, the leash is really short which is awesome because it reduces the risk of strangulation (I seriously think of these things!) Let me warn you though, when the AlphaPup says “X for x-ray fish”, it’s gonna sound exactly like “X for exorcist”. Amelia kept pressing the “X” one day when we were home alone and I got so freaked out! I was like, “Wait, what did that thing say?” Total double take. Finally, I had to Google what it actually said and surprisingly, it’s not “exorcist”, it’s “x-ray fish.” I find that as an odd word to say, as well, but whatever. The toy is amazing and really can help your child learn some words and their ABC’s.

4. Melissa & Doug Animal Sound Puzzle: 

christmas holiday toddler gift ideas inexpensive
Yeah, we’re missing almost all of the pieces…

I’m not gonna lie, Russ and I took the batteries out of this puzzle a few minutes after we put them in. That didn’t stop Amelia from loving this toy though! If you have a large house or don’t get annoyed as easily as I do, I’d recommend keeping the batteries in because it’ll help your child learn their animal sounds. I think this toy is great because even without the sound, it really has taught Amelia how to problem solve. I can actually see her mind working as she’s trying to fit the pieces in the correct way. As you can see from the photo, it’s definitely well-loved. I swear I had most of the puzzle pieces yesterday and then when I want to take a picture, Amelia and I couldn’t find any of them. *sigh* That’s life with a toddler for you.

5. Play Food Set:

Toddler christmas give ideas under $20

I’m lucky because my mom saved most of my childhood toys so I didn’t have to buy this one. Larger play food sets are often expensive but you can find some smaller sets out there that are more reasonably priced. (I added a link to a play food set that looks like the one I have. Mine is pretty old so I couldn’t find the exact one that we own). Amelia is really into her toy food. She “feeds” her dolls and stuffed animals which is just so sweet! She also licks the toy ice cream and says “yummy” which is gross but bound to happen. I think my favorite thing about toy food though is that Amelia will play with this one for YEARS!! I used to love playing “restaurant” until the 5th grade possibly even til middle school (semi-lame but I had lots of fun!) This toy is gonna last a long time so it’s definitely a great buy.

6. Toy Animal Set: 


We all know Amelia loves her “little animals” so I’m not going to go into this one too much but let’s just say that animal figurines are totally amazing. Most kids that I know really like playing with animal sets. This toy will also last you a long time. They’re basically indestructible and kids will enjoy playing with them as they get older. I mean I have some from my childhood and I still enjoy playing with them (with Amelia of course).

7. Fridge Magnets:

christmas holiday toddler gift ideas inexpensive
The sole survivor 🤦‍♀️

My mom bought Amelia ABC fridge magnets for her birthday this year and I fell in love with them. Each letter was a different animal and I just thought that they were too cute. I also was thinking, “Sweet, now I can teach Amelia the ABC’s and animals.” Yet again, things didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. I was careful and kept these toys in a cupboard. I only took them out every so often for Amelia to play with on our dishwasher. She annihilated them. The ones we had were cardboard and she completely pulled them apart one by one. Actually, that picture you see is the last magnet. It’s very sad because I liked them a lot. I haven’t found any new ones yet but I think that this would be an awesome gift if you can find foam magnets or something that is toddler-proof. Please leave me a comment if you know of any good fridge magnets because I haven’t been able to find any yet!

8. Vtech Rhyme & Discover Book

Toddler christmas give ideas under $20

Amelia received this as a baby gift and still loves it. This really is a cute toy. It plays nursery rhyme songs but is also a book. It’s made of plastic so you can just wipe it clean and it’s unbreakable (which really helps a mom out). There’s also moveable pieces and it lights up so babies will enjoy it as well. Not to mention, the voice on it isn’t annoying (or at least I don’t think so). Amelia’s liked this book for almost two years so I’d say that it’s a good buy.

9. Little Tykes T-Ball Set:

Toddler christmas give ideas under $20

Even though Amelia’s a little young for this toy, she’s definitely still having fun with it! This gift comes with a T-ball set and 5 balls! Amelia can actually hit the ball off the T! Russ and I will also hit the ball (it’s actually really fun) and Amelia will play outfielder and go get it. Amelia loves this game. She cannot stop giggling whenever we play it! This toy is great because Amelia will be able to play with it for close to 5 years! She’s also getting exercise when she’s playing with this. Even in the house, we shut the doors to the hallway and let her hit the ball down the hall. It’s also nice to get her familiar with sports so that hopefully she’ll enjoy playing them in the future.

10. Magnetic Drawing Board: Magnetic drawing boards are definitely my go-to car ride toy. These are great for long road trips or just to play with around the house. There’s no mess (unlike crayons) and your toddler probably can’t break them (like crayons). You can also use these to teach your child letters and numbers. Some boards even come with books that allow your child to trace their letters/numbers. I didn’t take a photo of ours because it’s gotten really dirty and gross but I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. These have been around since we were kids and will be staying around!

I hope that this post will help you with your holiday shopping! Please feel free to leave me comments or questions. I really love hearing from you!



Fun & Easy Hand & Footprint Turkey Craft For Kids

Fun & Easy Hand & Footprint Turkey Craft For Kids


I love the holiday season! One of the my favorite ways to celebrate the holidays is by making crafts with my family! Last weekend, my husband’s family came over. While the guys went to the driving range, the girls and kids had a Fall crafting day. I hadn’t really had time to make many crafts since Amelia was born, so I was really excited to make this Thanksgiving turkey hand and footprint craft with her. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Amelia has a mind of her own and decided that she’d rather chase her 4-year-old cousin up and down the hallway for a few hours instead. It’s okay, she’s two. I determined that it wasn’t worth the battle and decided to enlist the help of my 9-year-old niece instead.

This Thanksgiving turkey craft is perfect for children of all ages: toddler, preschool or even school age kids (you’ll just have to help the younger kids a little). This is an easy, inexpensive craft that older siblings can actually help their younger siblings with. My 9-year-old niece was a good sport and seemed to have fun with this but I do think that it would be more exciting for smaller kids. It would also be super cute to make these every year and have the kids see how much they’ve grown!

Hand and footprint craft for kids, Thanksgiving craft toddler preschool

I really hope that you enjoy making this craft with your child! I love that most of the materials needed are things that you already have lying around your house. It’s very inexpensive, easy and will make a great keepsake that you can use as a Thanksgiving decoration in the future!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Colored construction paper (brown, yellow,orange, green, red, etc.)
  • Glue stick (or white glue)
  • Child safety scissors
  • Pencil
  • Googly eyes (optional- you can use paper instead)


Turkey hand and footprint craft, toddler thanksgiving craft, easy & inexpensive

First, trace your child’s feet on a piece of brown construction paper. Alternatively, you can put their shoe on the paper and have them trace the shoe (for older kids).

Turkey hand and footprint craft, toddler thanksgiving craft, easy & inexpensive

Next, have your child trace and cut out their hand prints, using a variety of colors, for a total of 6 hand prints. These will be the turkey’s feathers. If you are doing this with a young child, you can trace and cut their hand prints out for them.

Turkey hand and footprint craft, toddler thanksgiving craft, easy & inexpensive

Have your child glue the feet together at the heel, making the turkey’s body. Then have them glue on the googly eyes (or even better, use googly eyes that are sticky on the back). Then they can cut out a beak and wattle and glue those to the front of the turkey. Then cut out brown or orange turkey legs and glue them to the back of the turkey so they stick out underneath.

Turkey hand and footprint craft, toddler thanksgiving craft, easy & inexpensive

Have your child arrange their turkey “feathers” how they like and then glue them on. Your child can fan them all out as the turkey’s tail or even put two hand prints in front to make the turkey’s “wings”. Let them be creative here! It’s so much more fun that way.

Last but not least, make sure you write your child’s name and date on the back of the turkey so that you can look at them in the upcoming years and see how much your child has grown! If you’d like, you can also glue a popscicle stick to the back of your turkey and make them into little turkey puppets.

I hope that you enjoy making this Fall Thanksgiving craft with your children! If you enjoyed making this craft or if you have a question about it, please leave a comment below! I really enjoy hearing from you!

Disclaimer: A link on this page is for an affiliated product on Amazon. If you make your purchase through that link, Surviving Til Bedtime will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my website.

10 Amazingly Simple Organization Ideas for Your Toddler’s Room

10 Amazingly Simple Organization Ideas for Your Toddler’s Room


So I’m a bit of an organization freak. Well, let’s not put it that way. I’m not really that organized. It’s more that I can’t stand clutter. For some reason, it gives me anxiety. This isn’t an ideal anxiety to have since I live with a toddler who, it seems like, is constantly receiving gifts from anyone and everyone. Kids accumulate things so quickly! They even start receiving gifts before they’re born! This is because it’s super fun buying gifts for babies and children. It’s not always so fun trying to find storage places for these gifts. I feel like I’m not alone here. Most parents have this issue of trying to figure out where to store all of their children’s toys and clothing so I thought I’d help with this problem by sharing some ideas that can help you organize and store all of those things your baby, toddler or child accumulates. Hopefully, some of these tips can help you on your organization journey!

Tip 1: Use a mesh hanging storage organizer to hold your child’s socks, shoes, bibs, etc.

Mesh hanging storage organizer

When I had Amelia, my sister-in-law gave me this wonderful mesh hanging storage organizer. It’s perfect for holding socks and shoes. I don’t even mind putting dirty shoes in the organizer because it hangs off of the floor. That way the shoes never have to touch the carpet. Just make sure you remember the shoes are dirty and wait until you’re outside to put them on your child.

This organizer would also be super handy next to a changing table. You could store diapers, a change of clothes, small lotions, diaper cream, etc. I love having everything within arms reach. This is really an awesome and inexpensive baby shower gift.

This mesh hanging storage organizer really has held up well considering it’s been used for three kids. It has Velcro on top and attaches to the closet rod. The only downfall is that you can’t put anything really heavy in there or else it might fall. When I say heavy, I mean a whole package of wipes. It’s held multiple pairs of toddler shoes, socks, bibs and burp rags and has done fine. Amelia has also twisted and pulled it down before though, surprisingly, this has only happened a few times!

Tip # 2: Keep the dresser in the closet.


Another gift we received from my sister-in-law is Amelia’s dresser and it fits perfectly in Amelia’s closet. We took our closet doors off when we moved into our house (because they were gross) but if you have closet doors that’s awesome because those will keep the dresser nice and hidden from view. This saves space because you can hang children’s clothing above the dresser and then put longer items on the side. As you can see, I have way too many clothes. Russ is constantly asking, “You seriously need four closets and two dressers for all of your clothes?” The answer is yes (though it shouldn’t be). Yet I still get upset when Russ just throws his clothes up on our closet shelf (like I think he actually has somewhere else to store them). This is also nice because if you anchor your child’s dresser (which you should do), it’s in the closet so it’s not a huge deal if you end up with a hole in your wall.

If your child’s dresser doesn’t fit in the closet, I’d suggest using it as a changing table. This is the changing pad we have for Amelia. We actually keep her changing pad on our big dresser. When she was a baby, we kept it in her room but since she’s no longer waking a ton at night, we’ve now moved it to the guest room so that she can have more play space. We just keep the changing pad on top of the dresser. Next to the pad, we have a basket containing her diapers, wipes, etc. This saves a lot of money because those changing tables are really expensive and seriously what are you going to use it for once your kids are out of diapers?

Tip # 3: Store items in a canvas storage bin:

Canvas storage bin

Items that Amelia doesn’t often use, I’ll store in a cute canvas bin, up in her closet. I love the chevron pattern! These really make everything look super organized and neat. I’d actually like to buy a few more to hold her stuffed animals. Currently, I’m just storing small blankets and changing pad covers in my bin but these would be great for small toys, shoes, etc. I also really like these because they have such a classic look they’ll work well in her room even as she gets into her teenage or college years. Actually, these would be perfect for a dorm room. I’ll have to keep you posted to let you know if they hold up til then!

Tip # 4: Store toys in a cute hamper.

Before Amelia was born, my mom bought her a cute little hamper for her bedroom. We have a small house and the washer/dryer is literally 20 feet away from her bedroom, so I’ve never bothered with putting Amelia’s dirty clothes in her hamper. Instead, I’ll just carry it directly to mine. Maybe this will change if we ever move to a larger house, but for now, I use her hamper as toy storage and it works great! It looks cute and hides all of her toys well. Currently, I keep Amelia’s hamper in her closet, which saves even more space!

Tip # 5: Utilize shelves.

toddler-room-storage-ideas-floating shelves
This is what Amelia’s room looked like before she was born. Notice how neat it is!

I asked for a floating shelf as a baby shower gift because I love how they look! I chose mine in white because I think it looks super classic but obviously you can choose whatever color floats your boat. I use the shelf in Amelia’s room to store special books and toys. I also use it to show off some of her prettier dresses. As Amelia gets older, I’ll probably use it to hang her jewelry and clothing for her next day of school. I love that this is something that she can use for a long time!

Tip # 6: Use a baby keepsake box to hold important documents.


For my birthday last year, my dad bought me this baby keepsake box. At first, I was thinking, “Great. Now that I have a baby, even on my birthday, the gifts are basically for Amelia.” This isn’t actually the case though! A baby keepsake box isn’t necessarily something that I would’ve thought to buy for myself but it’s really useful! I use it to store important documents such as Amelia’s hospital footprints, a newspaper from the day she was born, paintings she’s made, even her and my hospital wristbands. It’s reassuring to have all of these items in one place. The container is really sturdy and made of good-quality material so I don’t have to worry about anything happening to these documents. By the way, this would  be a great baby shower gift! Something that the mom-to-be could really use but just doesn’t know it yet!

Tip # 7: Use an easy reach toy storage unit to store toys.

This is something that I have on my wish list for this Christmas! Talk about gifts for Amelia that are really for me! The colors are cheerful and you can store all of your children’s little toys in there. Perfect for Amelia’s “little animals”. If you wanna read more about those you can check out my 10 Things To Do With A Toddler When You’re Stuck Inside On A Rainy Day post. My friend has one of these for her son and I’ve always wanted one for Amelia. I think the one my friend has is canvas but I would actually prefer plastic because plastic is so much easier to clean and sanitize. This is also a great item to help with your child’s color sorting skills. You can ask them to help clean up by putting the blocks in the pink bin, the crayons in the green bin, etc. I love that this has multiple uses!

Tip # 8: Utilize the space under your child’s crib or bed.

We live in Oregon so we really have issues with mildew and mold in the winter. Our garage has zero insulation so anything containing fabric has to stay in the house. Our house is around 800 sq. ft. without much storage space so we have to use every space that we can. This is why I love storing things under Amelia’s bed. We actually are storing her crib mattress under there now. I also store her Boppy, diaper bag, etc. That way, I won’t have any unpleasant surprises when I pull them out of storage for the next kid. You can also put old baby clothes in vacuum seal bags and store them under the bed. I actually do this and then put them in a plastic tub in the garage and no mildew issues yet!

Tip # 9: Organize with clear plastic tubs.


If you don’t want to go all out with a whole toy storage unit, I’d recommend buying a few clear plastic tubs with latches, to hold your children’s toys. I have a few of these and they’re great to store small toys. Plus, most kids aren’t able to open them on their own which is a plus. These are normally stackable so you can just stack them up in the closet or even under the bed. If you want to make the toys easier to find, you can label them. I also use these to store Amelia’s toiletries and hair clips, which I keep in our linen closet.

Tip # 10: Use over the door shoe storage.

This is yet another item on my Christmas list. These things are seriously genius! You can hold your child’s shoes, socks, and small toys all behind the door. This would actually be perfect for holding small stuffed animals, as well. I love that it helps you hide the mess in your child’s room and that it saves so much space!

I hope that this list can help you organize your child’s bedroom this Winter! Organizing is a great thing to do when it’s cold and you’re stuck inside. Please leave me comments with have any storage tips or questions you may have!


Disclaimer: A link on this page is for an affiliated product on Amazon. If you make your purchase through that link, Surviving Til Bedtime will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my website.



10 Cold Weather Date Night Ideas That Are Actually Fun

10 Cold Weather Date Night Ideas That Are Actually Fun


Every couple needs to make time for one another, whether you have children or not (it’s just usually more difficult with children). I know most of you are asking, “When do I have time for this? How am I gonna find a babysitter? How much is this gonna cost me? These questions seriously run through my head every time Russ suggests we go out. It’s horrible, I know but I’m just so tired. Most of the time, I really don’t feel like doing much of anything besides sitting home and watching T.V.

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I know it’s tough, but we need to break through this way of thinking, get out there and have fun together! Enjoying life as a couple is good for you, your spouse, and your children. It’s extremely difficult to have a good relationship with your spouse if you never spend time together without your children or all of your household responsibilities.

Russ and I barely see each other because we work opposite shifts. We only eat dinner together three nights a week but hey, these are sacrifices you make for your children. Luckily, we have some family nearby so we have the babysitter category covered. Our biggest issue is that I’m so frugal (see how I deliberately didn’t say cheap?) Truth be told, I am extremely cheap . Sometimes, this is good (because I know how to save money) but it’s also frustrating to Russ because the only time we go out to dinner is if I have a gift card. We usually go to P.F. Chang’s because, for some reason, my dad sends us gift cards for P.F. Chang’s on every special occasion.

I wanted to share a list of Fall/Winter date night ideas since the cooler weather has arrived here in Oregon. In the Spring, I’ll be sure to post some warm weather ideas (which is seriously so much easier to come up with!) I thought I’d separate the list into two categories (inexpensive/more expensive) so hopefully there will be a little something for everyone.  For now, I’m not listing at-home ideas because if I have the night off, there’s no way I want to stay home! I hope you all can use some of these ideas this Winter! Enjoy!

Inexpensive Date Night Ideas

1. Find a bar that has an open mic night:

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Last year, for Russ and my anniversary, we went to dinner and then stopped by this bar for their open mic night. We walked into this dark, semi-creepy dive bar and immediately found a pool table. We were super stoked by this so we loaded up on beers and played some pool! It was awesome. It totally reminded me of our old college days (where we first met). Then a “band” (I guess you could call him?) started to play. We sat down on this dingy couch to listen. This guy was playing an instrument I’d never seen before (sounded like a synthesizer?) I’m telling you it was weird AF. Russ and I just sat there thinking, “OMG how long do we have to stay here before we can leave without being rude?” By the way, we were the only ones watching… Finally we snuck out then burst out laughing. It was an odd experience but it also felt exhilarating doing something different and just cracking up together again.

2. Go Bowling:

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This is a fairly inexpensive option plus you get to wear those awesome shoes! You can grab food and a beer at the bowling alley and have some light competition with your spouse. Some bowling alleys also have Rock N’ Bowl Night which is super fun!

3.Go Dancing:

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Now I’m pretty sure Russ would never go dancing with me but some guys might! Go to a club, try line-dancing, swing-dancing, whatever you’re into! Just have fun with it and don’t take yourselves too seriously! This is also a great option because you’re getting some exercise at the same time.

4. Go to dinner then check out an arcade:

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Nothing makes you feel young again like going to an arcade. You might be the oldest couple there but who cares? You can go to dinner and drinks beforehand then head over to the arcade for some sweet games! You can even get a pizza there if you want to go all out. I’ve always liked arcade games. Plus, they have some that you can play as a team. If the weather isn’t horrible, some arcades also have go karts and mini golf which Russ and I both love!

5. Ice Skating/Roller Skating:

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Amelia was 4 months old at the time so that’s why we look so tired!
Amelia was 4 months old at the time so that’s why we look so tired!

I’m seriously so into both and Russ actually likes them, as well! You can get some hot cocoa or an alcoholic beverage beforehand and feel like you’re in middle school again (besides the alcohol). Wait, is drinking before skating even safe? Scratch that idea (or don’t but do so at your own risk). Skating really is good exercise and just a nice way to spend time together. You can even hold hands, if your husband will let you! Aw, how sweet!

More Expensive Date Night Ideas

1. Go to an indoor concert:

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I absolutely LOVE going to concerts! They makes me feel like I’m back in high school again (which sounds super depressing) but it’s not! They really are so much fun! Russ and I are actually going to see Thrice (one of my favorite bands from high school) this Saturday. I don’t know any of their music past 2007 so I might not know many of the songs they play but it should still be fun. We’ll probably get a few drinks beforehand then walk over to the venue. It’s nice to just let loose sometimes and going to a show definitely allows me to let loose. This is probably a date night idea that requires an overnight babysitter. Last time Russ and I went to a concert, we got home at 1 a.m. and slept til 10 a.m.! We woke up and were both like, “Whoa! We slept past 8? When was the last time that happened?” If you don’t have an overnight babysitter, there definitely are concerts that start and finish earlier.

One problem I have found, though, is that a lot of venues are getting super strict on the type of bag you are allowed to bring in. I’d recommend a clear bag/backpack (most venues are only allowing these). This one from Amazon looks awesome because it also works at any sports stadium and it’s a crossbody messenger bag which makes it super comfortable to carry for long periods of time (like at a concert).

Clear Body Messenger Bag

2. Indoor sporting event or outdoor if you’re a hardcore fan:

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I’m not into sports but my husband is so sometimes I have to compromise in my marriage (or so I’ve heard). We’ve gone to a few Blazer’s basketball games and had fun. I enjoy the food and drinks and Russ enjoys the game (as well as the food and drinks). If you’re actually into sports and don’t mind the cold, you can totally check out a college football game, as well. This is especially fun if you live nearby to where you went to college. It’s always great to relive the college days, with your spouse, a bit.

3. Go to a comedy club and dinner:

date night ideas without the kids fun unique winter
This was actually at a work Christmas party but we’ll take a night out where we can get one!
This was actually at a work Christmas party but we’ll take a night out where we can get one!

Going to a comedy club is always a fun way to enjoy a night out. Tickets aren’t normally that expensive so you can either get dinner before the show or, many times, they serve food at the club. I love laughing with my husband. It’s a great way to bond and just have fun together as a couple.

4.Go Skiing, snowboarding or sledding:

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This is more of a day date idea (unless you’re into night skiing) but sometimes it’s easier to find childcare during the day anyway. If you’re outdoorsy, this is a super fun way to get out in the wintertime together. Plus, you’re getting a ton of exercise so that saves you time because you won’t have to hit the gym for a few days afterwards. My muscles are always so sore after skiing.

If you have a mountain nearby, you can make a day trip out of it. It you have to drive a ways and you have childcare, you can make this into a romantic weekend getaway. I haven’t skied in years (Russ never has) but I think it’d be something fun to get back into and is way easier to do without Amelia. If you’d like a less expensive option (or don’t know how to ski/snowboard) you can always go sledding, which in itself is so much fun. It’s always great to act like a kid again. Ski/snowboarding lessons would be cool to take together, as well. Nothing’s as funny as watching each other fall in the fluffy snow (just try to be lighthearted and don’t get angry if your spouse laughs at you). That defeats the purpose.

5. Go to a local brewery, distillery or winery:

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Another enjoyable, more laid-back, date night idea is to check out a local brewery, distillery or winery. You can see if they have a tour going on. Sit back, take a deep breath and relax together. Now you may need to have an actual conversation with your spouse, which I know is hard to do without bringing up the kids, but try for me here. Groupon is also always having deals on wine tours, as well.

Have fun you all!

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Disclaimer: A link on this page is for an affiliated product on Amazon. If you make your purchase through that link, Surviving Til Bedtime will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my website.

Need To Unwind? Give Foam Rolling A Try

Need To Unwind? Give Foam Rolling A Try


Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a slightly stressed out person. Truthfully, I struggle with a lot of anxiety and am constantly stressing over even the smallest of things. I’ve come to accept that I was born this way and it’s part of who I am. I do have things that I do, though, that help me manage my stress.

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One thing I do to relive stress is I allow myself a slot of time each day for my stretching exercises. Every morning, I listen to music, stretch and do a short work-out. Granted, this isn’t always all that relaxing since Amelia is usually running around the house or jumping on me as I attempt to stretch. I realize that this is the best I can do, at this point in my life, so I take what I can get.

Last Christmas, my husband, Russell, bought me a gift card for a massage at a local spa. I was actually a little anxious to go to get the massage! I know that sounds crazy being anxious about something that should be relaxing, but I felt like it would be super awkward. I was also worried that the massage would aggravate an injury that I’ve had in my forearms.

A few years ago, I developed tendinitis in both my forearms due to overuse at a previous job. I felt like I tried everything I could to heal them. I wore a brace at night, I tried different keyboards, stretching, ice, heat, physical therapy for months, but nothing seemed to help. Finally, I switched to a part-time job after having Amelia, and my arms gradually got better (I’m guessing because I no longer type as much as I used to). I’m no longer in constant pain. When it was at its worst, the first thing I would do when I got home from work is run for ice, make an ice bath in our bathroom sink, and sit there crying as I soaked my sore arms. I’m so much better now but if it’s a particularly busy week at work or if I do something to aggravate it, I slowly start to feel that pain again. My pain was finally manageable so I was afraid that the massage would inflame the tendons and I would be right back to where I started.

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Anyway, I went to this spa and it was so nice and peaceful! One thing I’ve learned in my thirty years is that I’m always so worried about something and then, most of the time, everything turns out fine. I’m totally my own worst enemy. The spa really was great though. I sat in a comfy chair and sipped some herbal tea in quiet. No screaming baby, no oven timer beeping, no smoke alarm going off (I never clean the oven…). I finally went in to the massage room. From my understanding, this type of massage is for people with pain. The masseuse would hold a trigger point until that muscle released then move to the next muscle, all the way down until she got to my fingertips. I’m not gonna lie, the massage felt good, at times, but most of it was extremely painful. I had told the masseuse beforehand, that I had pain in my arms, so she really worked on them. I just lay there, clenching my teeth and trying to breathe through it all. I got through it though! The masseuse then put this muscle relaxing cream all over my arms, neck, and back. I felt like a new person. Totally refreshed!

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When the massage was over, the masseuse said, “Wow, your muscles were very reactive. You must have been in a lot of pain during the massage but you did really well.” (Well I mean I’ve been through labor so I got this). I was actually thinking, “Yeah lady, that really hurt and totally wasn’t what I was expecting.” I didn’t say that though because I felt amazing so I just nodded. Then she goes on to say, “You definitely should be coming in EVERY WEEK.” Wait, what? Does she think I’m made of money or something? This is a once a year deal, if I’m lucky. Yet, I nodded in agreement again. The masseuse must’ve noticed that look of shock on my face so she said, “You know, you can use a foam roller in between sessions.” Relief rushed through my body. I’d already bought a Gaiam foam roller to try for my tendinitis but had never really used it.

You can buy one here.

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This is the foam roller I use.

Ever since I went for that massage, I’ve added foam rolling to my stretch/exercise routine. Oh my gosh, you guys, I love it!  I use a smaller foam roller that I can fit between my shoulders and neck but if you have leg/hip pain, a larger one might be a better option for you. Please remember that I’m not a medical professional so really access yourself or talk to a doctor before attempting foam rolling yourself.

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This picture is so embarrassing but I thought I’d have to show you all what I’m talking about here.

This is what I do. First, I lay on my side and hold the foam roller between my armpit and the floor, putting my body weight on it. Then I’ll slowly start rolling the foam roller down the length of my arm. When I reach a spot that feels tight or hurts, I gently hold it there until the pain starts to decrease (which I take as the muscle releasing). I do this until I get down to my fingertips. Then I’ll stretch and massage my fingertips a bit.

After that, I put the foam roller in that fleshy part between my shoulder and my neck. This is the sweet spot. You might not have a lot of pain in your arms like I do but most people hold tension in their necks and shoulders. Blame it on the desk jobs and cell phones. I hold it there until some of that tension releases. Then I’ll repeat where my head and neck connect. You can do this wherever you hold tension in your body. I wouldn’t say that this necessarily relieves my pain. I mean I feel better but I’m not a doctor so I’m not sure if it’s actually helping or not. I can tell you, though, that I feel so relaxed when I do this. It’s kind of like giving a self massage but way easier because you can use your body weight instead of having to use your hands. I always feel like I could nap afterwards. It’s that relaxing! Now that I think about it, I’m not sure why I do this in the morning. I should add this to my bedtime routine instead! I really hope that you enjoy this post and that you try stretching or foam rolling to help with any stress you’re experiencing.

Disclaimer: A link on this page is for an affiliated product on Amazon. If you make your purchase through that link, Surviving Til Bedtime will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my website.

Before you try foam rolling, please understand that I am not a medical professional. Performing any activities listed on this page are at your own risk. You can read more on my Disclaimer page:

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10 Books That My Two-Year-Old Really Enjoys (Great Gift Ideas)

10 Books That My Two-Year-Old Really Enjoys (Great Gift Ideas)


 As I’ve mentioned before, Amelia loves books. This doesn’t mean she loves all books, though. All books are definitely not created equal and Amelia has become fairly selective when it comes to which books she’ll let me read to her. This is why it’s important to find a group of books that she actually enjoys. Otherwise, I’ll get stuck reading the same ones over and over which makes it less enjoyable for me (and it should be fun reading to your kids)! Reading is a great thing to do when you’re stuck inside on a rainy or snowy day. Check out my other ideas!

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So we kind of have a situation going on in our house, at the moment. Amelia will absolutely not let my husband, Russell, read to her anymore. I’m not sure when or why this happened but it did. I think, at this point, she finds it funny when he asks, “Amelia, can I read you this book?” She says, “No”. Then she laughs… If he tries to begin reading, she will start crying and screaming until he stops. Immediately, she brings the book to me. I think this actually hurts Russell’s feelings a bit so hopefully this is just a phase…It also gets a little exhausting being the only “reader” in the household. So now I hope you can understand why I need a variety of good books at my disposal.

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We try to go to the local library every Friday for storytime. After storytime’s over, I’ll walk around and pick out books as quickly as possible while keeping an eye on Amelia as she plays. Most of the time, I pick one or two books that she actually enjoys reading. This is out of the ten or so that I check out. The odds aren’t as awesome as I’d like them to be.

Recently, I’ve started putting books on hold at the library. This makes it way easier on me. If your library lets you do this, I’d definitely recommend it. You can also order books online which is probably the easiest option of them all. I’m super cheap though so I stick with our library. Anyway, I’ll go on our library’s website the week before I plan on going in. I add books that I think Amelia would like. Then when I go to the library on Friday, there they are, waiting for me to check out! Oh my gosh. This has been a game changer. It makes library time way less hectic for me. It was difficult trying to find books while really watching Amelia because she’s wild and will run up the stairs or out the door if I look away for just a minute. This may or may not have happened to me before. Please don’t judge!

Anyway, I thought I’d add a list of the top 10 books Amelia has really been into lately. I mean these are the main ones that I’m reading over and over to her every night before bed. Some of these are meant for older kids but these are the ones she really likes, for some reason. Who knows why?

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The List

  1. Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Me Reader Electronic Reader and 8 Book Library by Editors of Publications International

So this is technically a set of 8 books but I’m going to put them all into one group  because they’re sold together. Every single night this is Amelia and my conversation. Me, “Which book do you want me to read to you tonight?” By the way, I say this fully knowing exactly which books she wants me to read. Amelia’s response, “Um, Mickey.” Me, “Okay, which Mickey?” Stone cold. No response. Is it because she wants me to read all 8 Mickey books? Probably. These books are actually pretty fun to read. One book is An Astro-Nutty Adventure and it’s got some pretty great dad jokes in there. This set also comes with an electronic reader that will read the books for you. I just keep this in the car and it keeps Amelia pretty happy during our car rides.

2. The Popcorn Shop (Hello Reader) by Alice Low

This is a book my mom kept from my childhood. Good old Popcorn Nell and her popcorn shop. I almost finished the line there for you. I have this book 100% memorized. I’m not sure what Amelia’s fascination is with this book but it’s there in full force. This book is about Popcorn Nell who makes so much popcorn she doesn’t know what to do with it all. It’s actually a pretty fun book to read, as well. I think this book is for older kids but Amelia loves it so I read it. It also taught her how to say “pop”. So, hey that’s a plus, right?

3. The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna

This is a great series of books. The Pout-Pout Fish comes in a board book which is nice because Amelia can’t tear that one up. I also own The Pout-Pout Fish Goes To School which isn’t a board book so I keep that one up in the closet. Amelia really loves these books. I really enjoy reading them to her as well. I also have these memorized. I like them because there’s a nice rhyming flow that you can get into. The illustrations are cute too and they’re just sweet books.

4. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry

Little Blue Truck also has a series but I only own the original. Amelia really enjoys this book and so do I. It has fun sounds you can make as you read through it. It also is a story about friendship and kindness, which I love!

5. Goofy and the Magic Axe by Walt Disney

Amelia is absolutely obsessed with this book. It’s about a strong oak tree that all the woodsmen can’t cut down. Everyone makes fun of Goofy and says that he could never cut down the oak tree. I don’t want to ruin the ending for you all but Goofy finds a way to cut that giant oak tree down and it has to do with being a good person. Anyway, Amelia always points to this man with blonde, short hair and says, “Mama”… Wtf. First of all, I’m not blonde. Second of all, do I look like a man? Hopefully not. Either way, I’m pretty sure this book will be staying around our house for a long time.

6. One More Hug by Ronne Randall

This is a sweet, and oh so true, book about a mama mouse who is just trying to get her baby mouse to go the f*** to sleep. She tries a soothing beverage, a warm bath, a bedtime lullaby, a bedtime story, and a night-light only to have them both fall asleep in the end. A mom just can’t catch a break. Either way, I really do enjoy reading this book to Amelia and she does too.

7. Who Am I? (An Animal Guessing Game) by Robin Page and Steve Jenkins

This book is super fun! I really love the illustrations. They describe the different parts of an animal and your child can guess which animal they think it is. Then you turn the page to find out if you guessed correctly.  At the end of the book, they also have fun facts about each animal. I love animals so I like how this book teaches Amelia about them.

8. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

This is obviously an oldie by a goodie. I love reading this book at night to Amelia because there aren’t a lot of words and there’s a nice flow. Amelia really is into it because of the shadows. For some reason, she’s being all creepy lately and loves shadows in books. She gets plenty of those in this book so I guess we’re both happy campers.

9. Look Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Oh my gosh. Amelia loves that new Peter Rabbit show. She is always wanting to watch it which is funny because my baby shower was actually Beatrix Potter themed. So random, right? My mom found this book at a garage sale and Amelia loves it! This book is great because it’s short, it’s a board book, and there’s a mirror at the end. Kids love mirrors so that’s a win in my eyes.

10. Baby Bunny: Finger Puppet Book by Chronicle Books

This is a board book series. Amelia really likes the finger puppets. I always let them smooch her or nibble on her fingers. These are really fun books that allow you to interact with your kids. They also are quick to read, which is awesome. We own, Baby Bunny, Baby Reindeer, and Baby Seal. These are also board books so no tearing!

I hope you enjoyed this list of great two- year-old books! Please leave comments with books that your toddler is into! I know I love new book ideas. I really need them especially since I’m the only reader in the house… Thanks!


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Disclaimer: A link on this page is for an affiliated product on Amazon. If you make your purchase through that link, Surviving Til Bedtime will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my website.