Expert Interview: GreatDad.com’s Paul Banas Answers our Father’s Day Questions

We asked Paul Banas, CEO and Founder of GreatDad.com and father of two, his insights and gift picks for Father’s Day. Paul has 25 years of marketing and business development experience and is a leader in providing a man’s point of view on parenting.

What does Father’s Day mean for you now that you have your own children?

Fathers Day now means breakfast in bed and probably brunch two hours later. The kids are very demanding with their mom that breakfast in bed is part of the program.  It’s nice to have a dad’s day, but it’s usually like family time on most other weekend days.

What is your favorite Father’s Day gift you have received?

Now, seven years ago, I got my first digital camera. At the time, it seemed like the best thing in the world for getting pictures of my then 4 year old.

Channeling your great parenting wisdom, what advice comes to mind for first-time dads?

Try as hard as you can to shift your expectations about what you think life with kids is like and the reality of day-to-day child rearing. Hopefully, you took on this role willingly, and you need to steel yourself for a long commitment of doing the best for your kids.  That doesn’t mean losing yourself, but it often means self-sacrifice.  Many cliches come to mind, but two are important. Number 1:  “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”  Keep yourself charged up so you can get up and do it again tomorrow.  And that also means with your relationship with your kid’s mom.  Number 2: “The days are long, but the years are short.”  You’ll be amazed at how fast ten years flies, but you’ll be a lot happier if at the end you have a lot of photos of smiling kids with you in them.

As society shifts towards more Stay-At-Home Dads (SAHD), how have you seen this affect the family dynamic?

The societal shift is slower than the news media would make you believe, though there are fare more stay-at-home than commonly reported.  Sex roles are changing creating a lot of confusion in gender roles and resentment among some. Are men becoming more feminine?  Are women bad moms? Our feeling is that raising a child is the most basic of human roles and is NOT exclusively done best by either sex.  Each family and each parent has to live out the life that is best for them, whether gay, straight, single, or traditional nuclear family.  The only responsibility we have is to provide a caring, supportive environment for the kids we bring onto the planet.

As the CEO and Founder of GreatDad.com and Pregnancy Magazine Publisher, what are additional websites, apps, books, etc. you would recommend to involved fathers?

We’ve long been associated with Mr. Dad, Armin Brott, the author of “The Expectant Father,” and seven other bestselling books on involved fatherhood. He was a pioneer in this area with his first book fifteen years ago.  Lately, there have been a lot more “how to” books for dads including the recent, “Show Daddy How” from Parenting Magazine, Daddy Dates by Greg Wright, a book on really getting to know your daughters, and Grant Eppler’s funny “What to Expect When Your Wife is Expecting,” his chronicle of the birth of his first child.   For websites, we like DadLabs.com, which has entertaining videos on many parenting topics and is a GreatDad partner.

What are your top 5 gift picks for Father’s Day?

1. Get him soup. We tried and like spoonfulofcomfort.com for dads who are far away and need a little home-cooked feeling their lives.
2. No dad would frown if you get him an iPad. It’s a cliché this year for a reason.
3. Get him a kite and take the family kiting. Nothing excites a dad’s imagination in the same way as seeing a kite soar.
4. If he likes to cook or grill, get him a herb garden, available at the hardware or garden store for under $10.  Not all men think flowers are manly, but herbs are a different animal.
5. Bake him cookies or pie and write him a sappy card with a list of special memories (and why you love him) from the last year.
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On father’s day, dads really don’t need you to spend money to make it a special day.

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Paul Banas has more than 25 years of marketing and business development experience from companies such as Unilever, Visa International, Alibris.com, and most recently Yahoo!. He is also a member of the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG), former President and founder of the Bay Area International Advertising Association and serves on the Advisory Board of Pregnancy Magazine where he is a monthly contributing editor. After becoming a dad and realizing a need for a man’s point of view on parenting, Paul created GreatDad.com, a leading resource for involved fathers.

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Expert Interview: Savvy Sassy Mom’s Andrea Fellman Answers our Mother’s Day Questions

We asked popular mom blogger, Andrea Fellman, to give us her insight and top gift picks for Mother’s Day. Creator of
Savvy Sassy Moms
, Andrea helps prevent moms from losing their unique style and keeps them well-informed with quick posts on the latest products and trends.

Does your family have any Mother’s Day traditions?
If so, what are they?

…The day usually starts with the kids bringing me handmade cards and little presents in bed. We usually go out and do something fun as a family, have a nice lunch and just spend the day relaxing.

What does Mother’s Day mean for you now that you have
your own children?

Mother’s Day has become more of a family day to me.  I look at it as a day to appreciate my family and all that I have. I feel very fortunate to have such a fun and healthy family.

What is your favorite Mother’s Day gift you have received?

I really just like the handmade cards and the things the kids make for me, but the year I spent half the day at the spa wasn’t bad either!

What is the most common question new Moms ask you?

Not so much new Moms but Moms pregnant with #2…. My kids are 2 years apart but the same size so they look like they are twins.  Moms that are on their way to having their second child always want to know if they “get along” – To which I say, yes and no.  Sometimes they love each other and other times they hate each other it just depends on the day!

How has starting Savvy Sassy Moms benefitted your family and more specifically your children?

Savvy Sassy Moms has made me feel creative and alive!  It has benefitted my family in many ways, because when “Mama’s happy, everyone’s happy!”  I feel I am leading by example, my kids know that you have to work hard for things you want, nothing comes easy and if you want something bad enough you have to go after it.  My kids also benefit from getting to go to some pretty cool events and they also get the VIP treatment sometimes.  Just last week my daughter asked me  “Does Savvy Sassy Moms give autographs?”  ROFL  I said No, I’m not famous!”  and she said “Well a lot of people know who you are and you were on TV before.”  to which I said “Nope, I’m just McKenna and Hudson’s Mom!”

What are your top 5 gift picks for Mother’s Day?

I like “experiences” as gifts so…I suggest giving Mom an entire day off to spend it how she wants, alone, with her Mom or maybe some girlfriends.  Doing something that makes lasting memories is always so much better than some chocolates and Moms appreciate creativity!
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1.  Weekend Getaway
2.  Spa Treatments
3.  Fabulous Dinner Date
4.  Shopping Spree
5.  Lounging poolside with cocktails & girlfriends
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Although, jewelry and a nice new handbag are always nice too:)

Andrea Fellman, a mom who hasn’t lost her style to Motherhood! Savvy is to be Experienced, Well Informed, Intelligent and to use Common Sense. Sassy is to be Lively, Spirited, Stylish and Chic. After being a stay at home mom and losing her passion for life and struggling to find an outlet for creativity, her husband, the tech-y one at home, encouraged her to start a blog.  That’s when things changed.  Social media and the blogging community opened her eyes to an unbelievably inspiring and supportive world.

1. Does your family have any Mother’s Day traditions? If so, what are they?

Not really, but the day usually starts with the kids bringing me handmade cards and little presents in bed.  We usually go out and do something fun as a family have a nice lunch and just spend the day relaxing.

2. What does Mother’s Day mean for you now that you have your own children?

Mother’s Day has become more of a family day to me.  I look at it as a day to appreciate my family and all that I have.  I feel very fortunate to have such a funa and healthy family.

3. What is your favorite Mother’s Day gift you have received?

I really just like the handmade cards and the things the kids make for me, but the year I spent half the day at the spa wasn’t bad either!

4. What is the most common question new Moms ask you?

Not so much new Moms but Moms pregnant with #2…. My kids are 2 years apart but the same size so they look like they are twins.  Moms that are on their way to having their second child always want to know if they “get along”  To which I say, yes and no.  Sometimes they love each other and other times they hate each other it just depends on the day!

5. How has starting Savvy Sassy Moms benefitted your family and more specifically your children?

Savvy Sassy Moms has made me feel creative and alive!  It has benefitted my family in many ways, because when “Mama’s happy, everyone’s happy!”  I feel I am leading my example, my kids know that you have to work hard for things you want, nothing comes easy and if you want somethng bad enough you have to go after it.  My kids also benefit from getting to go to some pretty cool events and they get the VIP treatment sometimes.  Just last week my daughter asked me  “Does Savvy Sassy Moms give autographs?”  ROFL  I said No, I’m not famous!”  and she said “Well a lot of people know who you are and you were on TV before.”  to which I said “Nope, I’m just McKenna and Hudson’s Mom!”

6. What are your top 5 gift picks for Mother’s Day?

I like “experiences” as gifts so…I suggest giving Mom an entire day off to spend it how she wants, alone, with her Mom or maybe some girlfriends.  Doing something that makes lasting memories is always so much better than some chocolates and Moms appreciate creativity!

1.  Weekend Getaway
2.  Spa Treatments

3.  Fabulous Dinner Date

4.  Shopping Spree

5.  Lounging poolside with cocktails & girlfriends

Although, jewelry and a nice new handbag are always nice too:)

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Expert Interview: Green Gifts Guide’s Amity Hook-Sopko Answers our Earth Day Questions

To celebrate Earth Day at The Gifting Experts, we thought we would introduce you to our new friend, Amity from Green Gifts Guide. Amity was a delight to work with and she was the perfect expert for Earth Day! Amity loves gifting green and after reading the below interview, you might want to gift green too!

How can we easily celebrate Earth Day as a Family?

Go OUTSIDE and get to know nature for Earth Day.  Disney Nature films are great for a rainy day, but U.S. children already spend too much time in front of a screen.  Kids need hands-on activities to connect with the planet and understand why conservation is so important.

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Some fun and inexpensive ways to celebrate are: Plant a tree as a family, Visit a wildlife center, nature preserve, or game ranch,  (Different from a zoo, you’ll find native animals in their natural habitat or in rehabilitation at these centers.) Volunteer to help clean up litter or collect items for recycling and Unplug from TV, video games, cell phones – this is also National Screen Free Week.

What is your favorite “green” tip that we might not have heard yet?

One of my favorite green tips is to stop giving mindless ‘stuff’ as gifts.  Have you ever stopped to look around your home or your friends (especially those with kids) homes and really look at how many things everyone has?

A thoughtful, carefully selected gift makes all the difference.  You want to give something your recipient can use again and again.  Not just something that starts the endless cycle of needing a place to put it, batteries to power it, someone to fix it, and ultimately having it end up crowding our landfills, because we never used it anyway.

What is “Fair Trade” and Why is it important to buy “Fair Trade” and local products?

To understand what Fair Trade is… sometimes it helps to start with what it’s not.  Many of the things we buy come from China or other countries that export cheap products.  And while the laws protecting child labor are helping, there’s still no guarantee that the last toy you bought was made by a worker who received a decent living wage for his or her day’s work.

The Fair Trade Certification lets you know that the person who made this item for you was paid fairly and is allowed to work in decent conditions.  Many Fair Trade items are made from sustainable or recycled materials, so we can know there was very little impact on their native land to bring these items to us.

Imagine the connection you’ll feel holding the same piece of jewelry that was made by the hands of a woman in a tiny village and knowing that because you bought this, she can feed her children today.  It didn’t come from a factory assembly line.  It came from the heart.

What’s a product that you own that’s not only eco-friendly but a real time-saver too?

School day mornings are one of the busiest times in our house.  We always try to pack a waste-free lunch for our children.  I love the Wrap-n-Mat sandwich wrap and snack pouches.  They’re reusable – some of them have lasted us two years now!  And they’re so simple; our 5 year old can help pack his own lunch.

What are some of the greatest energy wasters we do every day? Are these easily preventable?

There are several when it comes to energy or water around the home.  The main one I’m currently working on this spring is drying our clothes outside to avoid running the dryer
so much.

What are your top 5 green gifts of the moment?

1. I love the green Fair Trade scarf on The Gifting Experts’ Green Finds for Spring!

2. Plant a tree in your recipient’s name

3. Donate to your recipient’s favorite charity

4. You can often find new items (still with tags) at …Goodwill, eBay, or Craig’s List.

5. Give an experience gift – travel, state park season passes, or gift certificate to a restaurant with local food.

A thoughtful experience gift gives them something they’ll always remember, but never ends up in the Goodwill box.

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About Green Gifts Guide: Amity left a nine-year career in corporate Sales & Marketing shortly after the birth of her second son.  Her time as a SAHM allowed her to reconnect with nature and slow down enough to enjoy her family.  As birthday parties and holidays went into full swing – and all the waste that goes along with them – Amity was inspired to help busy moms find simple options for Eco-friendly gift giving.

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