Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sequencing back to work... Stay at Home Mom to Working Mom

The beginning of a great new journey? I took a new job in October 2017 and plan to work full-time, continue with my YouTube channel and blog, travel commitments, as well as attempt to fulfill my "mom duties".

Sequencing back to full-time work

Sequencing Back into Full-Time Work

Sequencing... that's what they call this apparently. After 7 years of being a stay at home mom and being home with my two girls (currently ages 5 and 7, both off to "big school"), I decided to jump back into the full-time work force and "sequence" my way back into working. It makes sense, I suppose, where the name sequencing comes from... we have been on a different schedule and different wavelength for quite a bit of time, and now we need to realign our "sequence" with something more "mainstream".

It's a mixed bag of emotions. Nervousness about whether or not I quite remember what it's like working full-time. Anxiousness about a whole new set of issues to contend with, kiddo pickups, drop-offs, school times that they need to be there by, after school activities they need extra snacks to bring. A bit of sadness because those snuggly baby days are over... there's happiness too though. A happiness of doing something again that is my own, something of my own making.

It is a bit odd, after being in the stay at home mom community for seven years, some of my best friends are career stay at home moms or housewives - which I completely respect by the way, it's a bit job - you kind of get in this mind set that it is just "what you do" and you kind of completely forget that there are women out there working full-time that have been all along. At least I did anyways. And then it hits you, that they have a seven year head start on you jumping back into working - and that makes you break a sweat just a little.

Biggest Challenges of Sequencing 

Happily, I can say that the adjustment on my side has gone fairly well. Not without it's hiccups, but the type of job I took is fun (social media marketing, i.e. I pretty much do at work, what I am sitting here doing right now while writing this article - just for a different company!) and it keeps me busy. The days go fast and I think that really helps, when you're doing something you enjoy and you have full days that are dynamic.

It hasn't been without challenges though, the girls are ages 5 and 7 right now - Natalie is soon to turn 6. Bella has been off at "big school" for 3 years now and has adjusted fairly well to having two working parents. They both go to an after school care and either my husband or myself picks them up when we get off of work. Bella will bound up to us and is excited to see us. It's cute to see her maturity in the situation and she has been doing well.

Playing dress up
Adjusting with style!

Natalie, has had a lot of big adjustments this year. We moved across the country into a different culture. She started "big school" going 5 days a week, all day long for the first time for kindergarten this year. And she has been put in a lot of situations where she is meeting new people and making new friends, which luckily is her forte. It's not without it's challenges though, she's young. It's a long day, waking up to go to school at 7:00am and then being at after school care until 5:30pm or beyond. Some days she's cranky, other days she's excited to tell us about her day. As time goes on, I think it will get easier and easier though.

Changes Ahead

All in all, it has gone about as smoothly as I think it could and the transition going from being a stay at home mom to a working mom has been "fine". Only a few weeks into our transition, the few pieces of advice that I would give to anyone considering making the change would be to:

  - Research childcare options and costs that will work with your potential new schedule so that you can factor those into your future salary.

  - The week before you start working, run through the time schedule you will have to be on and "practice" dropping the kids off at school, driving to work, and making sure the timing you anticipate actually works with the commutes.

  - The first week, just focus on getting into the time routine and don't stress about household duties.

I also plan to do some things for myself, like hiring an in-home cleaning service at least once a month to keep the house going, and also allow ourselves to have takeout a bit more than we usually have. I think cutting yourself some slack during the transition helps to not feel stressed out. Since I'm a member of the 2017-2018 Chick-fil-A Moms Panel and it's one of our favorite places to eat, with a kid's play place too as an added bonus for the kids - it will definitely be a favorite that we stop by at least a few times a month!

Chick-fil-A Chicken Tortilla Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup with Hot Sauce! Yum!

All in all, it's gone well and I'm interested to see what the future holds! I'm glad I took the leap and it's also working out okay so far for me to keep up with my YouTube Channel and also working during the day. I'll do some videos coming up in the future as to how I am juggling it all!

Check out my announcement on YouTube here:

** This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide to Unique Gifts for Family

I partnered with The Hopping Bloggers for this sponsored Holiday Gift Guide. 

It's time to plan for the holidays! And today's gift guide is all about the family! For everyone from newlyweds to empty nesters, there something here for everyone! Our family is made up  of myself, my husband of 12 years, and two girls, Isabella, age 7, and Natalie, age (almost) 6. The girls have recently really gotten into playing family boardgames and love when everyone gets together to play a game - so games will be a big hit on our Christmas list this year!

Gifts for everyone

Shop Disney Tee

Our family loves Star Wars (see: Halloween costumes) - so I thought this "The Force is Strong in my Famiy" tee from ShopDisney.com was great and something we would definitely consider getting for a trip shirt for our upcoming trips! I love the simplicity and there is also a Star Wars logo on the back shoulder. Get it on: ShopDisney.com

Christmas Jammies

Matching family pajamas are a fun and festive tradition that your whole family can get into! I thought the Santa print on this set was perfect for Christmas morning! Get it on: Target.com

American Tourister Suitcases

American Tourister is our family's favorite suitcase brand and we have a variety of styles that we use for our trips. Our favorite style that we use is the Ilite Max style, we have a few of the 25 size and I'm panning on getting the 21 size as a part of Christmas gifting this year! I think that suitcases make a great practical family gift, especially if you know you have some fun trips coming up! They are also a great way to do a trip reveal - or to fill up with goodies for the trip too! Get it on: Amazon.com

Family Game Night

RoosterFin Games - Wizard Roll

We received the Wizard Roll game from RoosterFin games to test out and it was perfect timing, because the girls - especially Bella - have been super into magical games and wizards lately. After playing Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom interactive game at Magic Kingdom, I started looking for some interesting game alternatives we could play at home.  Wizard Roll was at a great level for it to be understandable and fun for the girls to play! Get it on: RoosterFin.com 

Disney Monopoly

It's no secret that we love Disney at our house! And now that the girls are getting a little bit older, I believe Monopoly will be in our future. (I always loved buying properties up as a child!) This Disney version is great for Disney dans, and I love that it has characters they will recognize on the board! Get it on: Amazon.com

Personalogy Family Game

We enjoyed testing out the Personalogy game earlier this year! It was a blast asking each other questions and learning more about each other. It also worked great for a travel game to pass the time while traveling!

Personalogy is a discovery card game that gets the whole family talking, laughing and having fun! Kids love to play, it creates hilarious and memorable moments for family dinners, parties or road trips! Personalogy brings families together through more meaningful and amusing conversation. Personalogy promotes families to share stories. The interactive component of describing “why” is what generates surprises and laugh out-loud moments. Get it on: Amazon.com

Gifts for Newlyweds

Family Decor Sign

This was a great decor find on Amazon. Amazon actually has some unique and really cute decor pieces that won't break the bank. I loved this "Family" sign as a great gift for an established family - or a newlywed couple that was just starting out and getting settled into their new home! Get it on: Amazon.com

Forever Yours Gift Box

Shopping for a newlywed or need the ideal winter wedding gift? This holiday special includes a FREE GIFT with purchase. YourCreative Memories Photo Album Gift Box makes the perfect personal gift to save memories beautifully, with a bit of fun! Each gift box includes a 12x12 scrapbook album with predesigned pages, so it’s quick and easy to add engagement and wedding photos, invites and more. It also includes a pen, adhesive, page protectors and 50 die-cut embellishments (a free bonus!) for added dazzle! All of it comes in an impressive gift box, guaranteed to make an impression and become a cherished keepsake. Get it on: CreativeMemories.com

EatSmart Precision Digital Kitchen Scale

This item is a great idea of newlyweds and families alike! The EatSmart Precision Digital Kitchen scale is light weight and accurate, so that you can weigh items in your kitchen without taking up a lot of space. 

The EatSmart Precision Digital Kitchen Scale is a versatile multi-function home appliance. Designed to be highly accurate and aesthetically pleasing, the Precision Digital is manufactured to the highest quality specifications. Weigh items up to 11 lbs quickly and accurately, with results displayed in four different measurement modes: grams / ounces / pounds / kilograms. The recessed platform allows you to effortlessly weigh items on the scale itself and the plastic design is easy to clean. This is a great gift idea for anyone who spends time in the kitchen - great chef or not. A must have for any family! Get it on: EatSmartProducts.com

There's truly something for everyone in this Family Gift Guide, full of unique gift ideas for those in your family! We are loving family game night this year! I hope your holidays are merry and bright!

** This is a sponsored gift guide in collaboration with The Hopping Bloggers. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Holiday Gift Giving Guide for Kids

I partnered with The Hopping Bloggers for this sponsored Holiday Gift Guide.

It's holiday season once again and time to start thinking of fun gift giving items for family and friends! I love coming up with gifts for kids that are fun, unique, and some that even have a learning twist on them! This year, there are tons of great options to chose from and I've divided the gift giving ideas into three categories - learning items, kid's tech items, and just for fun items!

This Christmas, Isabella will be 7 years old and Natalie will be 6 years old, and I anticipate that it will be one of the closest years in interests that we've had yet! When they were younger, it was easier to divide gifts based on age category - Natalie got more baby type items, while Isabella received more toddler appropriate gifts, and so on. Now, with them both being squarely in the "young kid" category, they have a number of interests that overlap between the two of them. Both girls are into Disney Princesses, dolls, collecting small items, and show an enthusiasm for science!

Give the Gift of Learning

Teach My Kindergartener

We received the Teach My Kindergartener pack to try out at home and I really loved the different variety of activities to work with Natalie on. They were neatly packaged in reusable cases and the outer case it arrived in is also very portable. All of the concepts included we right on Natalie's level and worked great for learning practice at home.

What better way to end the year, than some learning fun that will bring lots of cheer? Teach My are makers of award winning learning tools that help your child get a head start! Their products teach babies, toddlers and preschoolers the basic skills, things like; the alphabet, colors, shapes, numbers, reading and even math! Their aim is to encourage early learning, parent child interaction, self-esteem and help children to develop fine motor skills and excellent hand eye coordination. Bond. Teach. Play... 20 minutes a day! Start shopping now: TeachMy.com

Scientific Explorer Magic Science for Wizards Only Kit

This jumped out at me on Amazon, since Bella has been very into wizard games and magic, as well as being into science. She loves doing different STEM activities at home and this kit seemed to have a neat twist on a traditional kit. It includes everything you need for your experiments, test tubes, tube wand, measuring scoops, star stickers, and activity book. Get it on: Amazon.com

4M Crystal Growing Experiment

Another fun item that is going on Bella's Christmas wishlist, the 4M Crystal Growing Experience kit looks super cool and right up her STEM loving alley! She also loves rocks and geology, so I think this one will be doubly cool for her! You can grow your own crystal growth experiments and they come in a variety of colors! Get it on: Amazon.com

Give Kid's Tech Gifts

VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2

So this one is ON Bella's Christmas wishlist this year! We have seen this at Costco and also on Amazon.com. After she met a girl at Walt Disney World in October that had one of these watches and they hit it off. (Bonded over the watch, if you will!) She put this on her Christmas wishlist. It has two cameras to take pictures and selfies, a number of watch interfaces to help with telling time, and built in games. This seems like a great option for younger kids that are wanting portable tech, but aren't old enough for having their own phone. Get it on: Amazon.com


Only the coolest robot ever invented. Say Hello to cozmo, a gifted little guy who's got a mind of his own and a few tricks up his sleeve. He's the sweet spot where supercomputer meets loyal sidekick. He's curiously smart, a little mischievous, and unlike anything ever created. You see, cozmo is a real-life robot like you've only seen in movies, with a one-of-a-kind personality that evolves the more you hang out. He'll nudge you to play and keep you constantly surprised. More than a companion, cozmo's a collaborator. He's your accomplice in a crazy amount of fun. Some robots just have it all. Get it on: Amazon.com

Amazon Fire Kid's Edition

This was a purchase that we made this year for both girls, Isabella picked a blue Fire and Natalie picked a pink Fire. We got them mid-year to use for traveling and on the road trip down to our new house. They worked great for the trip and the girls enjoy using them. We like the parental controls and being able to set certain time limits for certain types of activities, while allowing others! The kid's version comes in a few different colors and has a durable bumper case to keep up with active little ones! Get it on: Amazon.com

Power Wheels Cars 3 Lightening McQueen

Ka-chow! With this Power Wheels race car featuring Lightning McQueen, kids can bring the high-octane fun and excitement of the Disney/Pixar hit film Cars 3 to life! This sweet ride can drive over pavement or grass and features cool race car sounds and real phrases from the film! Your little driver will love creating all new adventures behind the wheel of this rad ride-on. Get it on: Amazon.com

Give a gift - just for fun!

Blankie Tail

Isabella got one of these mermaid blankie tails at the beginning of the school year and she has gotten SO much use out of it! It is adorable and keeps her warm, she loves pretending she's a mermaid with her tail on! These make great gifts for girls who love mermaids or have mermaid themed rooms! Mermaids have more fun! Get it on: Amazon.com

Tsum Tsum Disney Advent Calendar

Enjoy counting down the 24 days until Christmas with the Disney Tsum Tsum Countdown to Christmas Advent Calendar. Open a new window each day to reveal a surprise Tsum Tsum figure or accessory and create a fun winter ski slopes themed scene. Collect, stack and display your favorite holiday themed Disney Tsum Tsum characters! Get it on: Amazon.com  

Hatchimals Surprise

Hatchimals Surprise are finally here and they have an unEGG-spected treat in store for you! For the first time ever, you can hatch TWO adorable Hatchimals! These loveable twins are hidden inside a magical speckled egg. Use your love and care to help them hatch! Hold and play with your egg and the Hatchimals inside will make delightful sounds that tell you how they feel! When its time to hatch, you’ll see rainbow eyes! Once your first Hatchimal has pushed its way out of the egg, lift your second Hatchimal out and let the fun begin! Each twin has a unique personality! One twin loves to move, while the other twin can repeat whatever you say! Raise them from baby to toddler to kid and they’ll learn new things at each stage! Your twins will talk, dance, sing, tell jokes, play games and more! These Hatchimals love to interact with each other! They’ll say “I love you” and, like any siblings, they’ll even bicker! Inside each Hatchimals Surprise you’ll find magical, adorable creatures! Who will you hatch? Get it on: Amazon.com

I hope you've enjoyed checking out my ideas for some unique holiday gift giving ideas for kids! Whether it's a learning oriented gift, tech gift, or just for fun - these items are all things that I know my girls would love!

** This was a sponsored gift guide. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fall into Fitness Giveaway!

Thanks to Hanes for sponsoring this giveaway on Being Mommy with Style! All opinions are my own.

All New C9 Champion Line at Target

If you've stopped by the fitness section in your local Target lately, you've probably noticed the Champion brand has an all new look! Champion has been one of my "go to" workout brands for a number of years, for my yoga and Zumba classes! After our move, I took some time to get settled in before adding additional things into our schedule, but the new C9 Champion line available at Target is perfectly timed! I've just been looking into Zumba schedules in our new area the past week to find classes that work around our schedule here, so it's a perfect time to add some new workout gear into my collection!

Hanes sent me this super soft C9 Champion Tech Fleece Full Zip sweatshirt, available in sizes XS through 2XL, which will be great to put on over my workout gear for getting to class! The color shown is Fog, and these are available at Target for $32.99.

Another item that I've been loving and actually picked up when there was a 25% code on Cartwheel (don't forget to check the app while you're in the store for additional savings!), I picked up a few pairs of the C9 Champion Freedom Capri Tight pants! These capri workout pants are perfect for yoga and Zumba class, and also work great for lounging around the house as well! I like that the Duo Dry + fabric holds its shape and that there's a hidden pocket in the waistband. These are $24.99 at Target and Target.com.

Fall into Fitness

Hanes wants you to "Fall into Fitness" and what better way to energize your workout than with some new C9 Champion items! Enter below to win a pair of C9 Champion Embrace Run Tights and a $50 Target Gift Card, that you could use to add some new C9 Champion workout pieces into your rotation!

Giveaway begins on Saturday October 21, 2017 and will run through midnight on Thursday October 26, 2017! Full details on how to enter are below!

You can also "Fall into Fitness" with the new C9 Champion line available at Target Stores and on Target.com. They have a huge new selection and I'm loving the set up in the athletic clothing section at Target! Comment below with your favorite items from the new C9 Champion line at Target!

** This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2017

Thanks to Disney, we received complimentary tickets to attend Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. All opinions are my own.

Star Wars family costumes!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2017

We are back from our magical vacation and Disney vlogs have started running on my YouTube channel! I will be running the usual recap videos, souvenir haul, taking a look at how we planned and what worked for us after the daily vacation vlogs are done running - but I first wanted to touch on Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, since October and these parties will soon be coming to a close!

First of all, it's worth a mention that... I did it! On a follow-up from my previous post, talking about a plan to maximize our time at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, I mentioned that this would be the first year that our family was in fully themed costumes! We had a lot of fun, it was neat going around at the party and having people express excitement at us when they saw our costumes, and I think the kids had a great time wearing them to meet Star Wars characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios the day before our party night as well!

Meeting BB-8 at Disney's Hollywood Studios

We did stick to the plan, and had a leisure day during our party day - with a character brunch at 'Ohana at 11:20am for breakfast/lunch, and then back to the resort to swim for a bit before it was party time. We wanted to go into the party with as much energy as possible, to make it as late into the evening as possible. This strategy did pay off, because we did make it until basically close and left Magic Kingdom at 11:30pm to head out to the bus area to catch a bus back to Art of Animation.

Later Party Times?

Our family is well acquainted with Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, in fact it's one of our family's favorite special holiday events to attend. However this year, there was one slight change from previous years that I was interested to see what effect, if any, it had on our party night. And that was the later times for both the Boo-to-You parades, and Hallowishes fireworks show.

We opted to go to the earlier Boo-to-You parade time, and watched again from the Frontierland area, just across from Country Bear Jamboree. Watching the parades from Frontierland has been a great fit for our family, because you are near the starting point of the parade and while it is dim in that particular area so that you can see the parade better, the lighting is still good enough for my camera (Canon g9x, which works great in low light, by the way!) to pick up good shots while we are watching the parade.

We had plenty of time to do some trick-or-treating and ride a few rides before the parade time. The one thing I did notice, is that it felt like we had less time to go from the parade to the Hallowishes fireworks this year. (Which we typically watch from Fantasyland, just to the side of the carousel.) After the parade was done, we were able to go over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to ride one ride, hit a few trick-or-treating spots in that area, and then had to head straight over to Fantasyland to grab a seat for the fireworks show.

This worked out just fine, I did notice it just felt like less time than previous years. After the fireworks, we had about an hour to ride a few more rides and grab some party specific treats before calling it a night.

How about those treats?

There was a great selection of special party treats to chose from this year at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, and the one I knew I wanted to try for sure was the Pumpkin Cheesecake - and it did not disappoint!

The cheesecake had a light pumpkin coating, that was lighter than an icing and not as sugary, it worked as a great compliment to the cheesecake. The cheesecake itself was moist and had a good flavor to it, not overly powerful in the sweet or tart department.

Our family also tried the Candy Corn Ice Cream, and even my husband that isn't the biggest fan of candy corn took party and enjoyed finishing it off! I thought it had a great flavor, which again wasn't too strong - it should be noted that I am biased... I'm apparently one of the few people in the world that actually LIKES candy corn! I thought it was a fun take on a Halloween tradition, and I would get it again.

The last special party treat that we tried was one of the Haunted Mansion desserts. I ordered the raspberry version from Auntie Gravity's Galactic Goodies for brevity sake since we were already there to pick up the candy corn ice cream, but it was also one of the top two flavor versions of the treat I had hoped to try. We didn't test this one until the following day. (After carrying it home on the bus inside a ziplock container and placing it in our mini refrigerator at our resort.)

This treat was really great and the only change I would do in the future would be trying this one (or one of its four counterpart treats) earlier in the evening, so that it didn't have to be refrigerated. It was still great, but I suspect would be even better right on the spot in the park. Everyone in our family that tried this one really liked it, and next time if they have similar treats in subsequent years, I know we would like to try the Oreo version as well.

Party Night Wrap-up

We had a fun night that included lots of rides, lots of candy, and special Disney fun! The girls enjoyed seeing all of the characters in the parade, one of our favorites, and I still get goosebumps every time the theme park is lit up by the perimeter fireworks that go over at the end of Hallowishes.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party was a fantastic time, and I think that being able to dress up at the party really puts the experience over the top fun for us. I also think that going into our party night with a plan helped immensely! Having an idea of what order we wanted to do events in helped us to keep our night on track and see all of the things we were wanting to see on our party night.

Check out our vlog of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween!

All of the Disney blogs will be placed on one playlist to be able to watch them in sequence, you can check out our whole vacation here:

Wishing you lots of not-so-scary fun if you too are heading to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party this year!

** We were hosted at this event. All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 6, 2017

5 Ways to Maximize your time at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!

It's "Boo to You" season, and our family is excited about heading back to Walt Disney World Resort for some Fall Fun with Mickey and friends!

Split stay! So two sets of MagicBands. Those rose gold ears though! 

We're looking forward to some new experiences on the trip, like seeing the all new Pandora area at Disney's Animal Kingdom and trying the new character breakfast at Trattoria al Forno that features Ariel, Eric, Rapunzel, and Flynn! We'll also be staying at Art of Animation, that will be a first for our family, and I'm excited to see what the girls think about the The Little Mermaid rooms there, as it will be their first time seeing those!

We will be doing some returning favorites on this trip too though, and one of those is going to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

We attended Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party on Halloween Night, in both 2014 and 2015! Last year, we returned to Walt Disney World Resort during the Christmas season so we could try out Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party! (Which is also a great time - check out why we loved that party as well HERE!) Our family LOVES dressing up in costumes, trick or treating in the park, and all things Halloween - so to say we are excited about returning during Halloween time at Disney would be an understatement!

Check out some of our previous Halloween trips on YouTube!

2014 -

2015 -

Ariel was obviously a very important character for us in 2015!

Maximizing our time at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

This year, we have a plan in place to maximize our time at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party! We are attending the party one night - and here is our plan for having a SPOOKtacular time at the party!

1. We are taking it easy during the day on Party Day!

This one can vary depending on size of your party, ages of the people in your group, how many days you'll be at Walt Disney World Resort, and so on... but we've found for our family in particular, dedicating our party date to the party is what works best for us! We like to take some time to explore our resort, do some shopping at Disney Springs, and have a bite to eat at a character meal. We will not be going into a theme park during the day and instead opting to waiting until party time, so that we can make it as far into the evening as possible!

Historically, guests have been able to enter the parks at 4pm with party tickets, and it sounds like that should be the case this year as well. Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party officially kicks off at 7pm and ends at midnight. And most years, we have been able to make it until the very end of the party - even when the girls were ages 2 & 4 and used to much earlier bedtimes!

Natalie "Letting it Go" before the party in 2014!

This year the girls will be ages 5 and 7 on party night, and we will have a plan in place to meet their current preferences of activities, which leads me to my next point...

2. Have a plan, but be flexible!

We will plan ahead of time by looking up the Mickey's Boo-to-You Parade times (this year will be at 9:15pm and 11:15pm, a bit later than it usually has been), Hallowishes Fireworks (10:15pm), and Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular (8:15pm, 10:45pm, & 12:00am) - to chose the times that I think will be the best for us to try to attend for each event.

Our family likes to go do "an event", something like meeting a character, riding a ride, or seeing one of the party special events, and then going to do some trick or treating. The girls don't eat a ton of candy (and trust me, you can walk away with a TON) - but there is something very special about trick or treating in the middle of Magic Kingdom, so we try to make the most of our experience and fill our bags up throughout the night!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2014!

3. Meeting Characters

Character meet and greets were a VERY important part of our Disney experience when the girls were extremely small, you could say that our trips basically revolved around meeting the characters when they were preschoolers! Now seeing their favorite characters is still important, but we've found that riding particular rides have started making the list of "must dos" when we visit the theme parks as well! The holiday parties offer the opportunity to meet specific characters that are not available in the parks at other times of year or during regular theme park hours - so if one of these characters is on your "must see" list, then I would make sure to keep that in mind when doing your party planning.

We try to meet 1-2 of the party characters during the party time, to keep our evening balanced doing a variety of activities. This year, I see Moana being very close to the top of the list on our "must see" characters. In previous years, we knew that Tarzan, previously in Adventureland during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, would be a must see - because my older daughter went through quite a Tarzan phase! If you are able, lining up early before party time is often recommended for "must see" characters and occasionally characters may even start greeting before the official party start time.

Mulan, meet Tarzan. 

I always struggle with where to place waiting for the special characters into our schedule, but I will say that order of importance will differ by family. I know for our family, probably our top event at the party will be Mickey's Boo-to-You Parade, so I will time our character greets to either have us well done with the meet and greet prior to parade start time, or lining up afterwards. Hallowishes Fireworks are also AH-mazing, and the perimeter fireworks that go off during these fireworks are one of my all-time favorite Disney experiences, it is sure to not be missed by us either... which leaves lining up early party time, trying to squeeze meeting a character in between the parade and fireworks (which would not be optimal for us), or waiting until the end. This decision I will likely make on the fly, whether we chose beginning or end of the party based on crowd levels and dispositions of our party that day... however what I tend to do is ask the kids what their one or two MUST SEE characters are for the evening and plan around those!

4. Get our costume on to get our party on!

Our family LOVES to dress up in costumes? Did I mention that?? I know some families do not dress up at all or go with Halloween t-shirts, you will see the full range of clothing on Halloween party nights... for our family, being able to dress up and fully immerse ourselves in the experience is a bit part of the fun! I mean, when else am I going to be able to run around Walt Disney World in a green wig?

Wearing a green wig inside Cinderella's Royal Table, ya'll!

In 2014, it was our first Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween experience, and my husband & I dressed as Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head. I couldn't quite talk the kids into doing the full matching thing... so we had an Elsa and Mulan that year trick-or-treating with us!

Then in 2015, we return on Halloween night to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween as Anger and Disgust from Inside Out, which had recently been released! Again, I couldn't quite get the kids to buy in on family costumes - though I got OH-SO-CLOSE.... they went trick-or-treating as Anna and Elsa. (Oh Frozen, you did have a stronghold on our house for quite some time...)

As Disgust and Anger in 2015!

THIS year... 2017. I've done it! We will be in a full family themed costumes! Inspired by Star Wars, which my girls have taken a liking to (yes, we are DEFINITELY counting down the days until the new Galaxy's Edge area opens at Disney's Hollywood Studios!!) we will be attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party as Han Solo, Princess Leia, Rey, and BB-8! (Insert squealing... lots and lots of squealing!) Stay tuned for pictures, because I think they will be classics!


5. Take time out to have a treat

What's a Halloween party without a treat?! And Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party will have plenty of treats this year! I'm looking forward to trying the Pumpkin Cheesecake Dome from Main Street Bakery or Gaston's Tavern...

Photo Courtesy: Disney Parks

... these delightfully spooky Haunted Mansion desserts at one of four locations throughout Magic Kingdom, I'm aiming for the Oreo filled one from Aloha Isle or raspberry filled one from Auntie Gravity's Galactic Goodies...

Photo Courtesy: Disney Parks

... and some Candy Corn ice cream that can also be found at Auntie Gravity's Galactic Goodies! YUM!

Photo Courtesy: Disney Parks

Boo to you, and you, and you... Happy Halloween!

So that is our family's plan to maximize our time at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and have a SPOOKtacular time at the most magical place on Earth! I'm looking forward to sharing our experience on YouTube after we return, and Disney vlogs will run in sequence until the end of the trip!

After all of the vlogs have been uploaded, check back here for a playlist to view them all at one time!

** We received complimentary tickets to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. All opinions are my own.