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CertifiKID Field Report: Music & Arts

06.08.17

Thinking about music lessons for your child, but unsure about adding yet another activity to your already hectic schedule? Whether you think you have the next Beethoven or Hendrix on your hands, or simply want to introduce your child to music, there are many benefits of music lessons that go well beyond learning how to play an instrument. Research has found that music instruction improves academic skills and test scores, increases IQ, develops discipline and organizational skills, boosts self esteem and encourages creativity and self-expression - just to name a few!

Now that we've convinced you to get your kids into music, you may be wondering where to start. All music teachers and lesson studios are not created equal. It can be challenging to find the right instructor for your child or your schedule. Luckily, we have done the leg work and research for you!

Music & Arts is the single largest provider of music lessons in the nation. They have 65 years of music lesson experience and teach over 1.5 million lessons each year! No matter where you're located, there's bound to be a Music & Arts Lesson Studio near you

What sets Music & Arts apart is their team of highly quality, hand picked instructors and customized lesson approach - no one-size-fits-all lessons here! When you partner with them for your child's music education, you will receive a university-trained, background-checked instructor that is particularly suited and qualified to teach the age, musical genre, learning style and ability level of your student. And Music & Arts instructors make learning FUN and EXCITING because they are all passionate about what they do.

Music & Arts specializes in helping busy families fit music education into their schedules with flexible lesson times and a family-friendly studio environment. Parents are always welcome to sit in on their child's lessons and encouraged to communicate with instructors about their student's progress and lesson plans. And BONUS, students also enjoy membership benefits like 10% off accessories and 20% off sheet music and books in Music & Arts retail stores.

For the entire weekend on July 14th - 16th, 2017, Music & Arts is opening up the doors to every store location* and inviting students, parents, musicians and educators to check out their Lesson Studio. This National Open House Lesson Event will include open mic performances, free beginner guitar lessons and free consultations with instructors. This is a great way to check out Music & Arts first hand with no obligation. You can RSVP for this free event here.

If you're still on the fence about whether lessons at Music & Arts is for right for your family, watch this video to learn more.

*Excludes non-lesson locations: San Antonio, TX; Mamaroneck, NY; Paramus, NJ; Monroe, NY and Olympia, WA.

CertifiKID Field Report: We Tried Wee Blessing and We're Hooked!

06.05.17

Wee Blessing is a company that acts as a children's personal shopper to save you time and money. If you're familiar with Stitch Fix for women, Wee Blessing works the same way, but for kids brand name fashions.

You start by filling out a style profile with your child's clothing preferences - sizes, colors, brand names, style, hobbies, etc. - and your preferred budget per outfit. A Wee Blessing stylist then hand picks four outfits for your child, which are shipped to your door. You keep and pay for what you want and return what you don't want. Return shipping is free. All clothing is top brand names and prices are always 40-60% below retail. If you keep everything, you get an extra 10% off your order. Sounds pretty great, right? I thought so too, and couldn't wait to give Wee Blessing a try.

I started by filling out Wee Blessing's style profile for both my son and daughter. I noted that my son only wears athletic wear and prefers Under Armour and that my daughter prefers pink, dresses, gymnastics and dance, but not Disney clothes.

My kids were SO excited when our package arrived and couldn't wait to rip it open to find out what was inside. Each kid received two outfits:

(1) Under Armour T-shirt with Adidas shorts and (2) Nike Dri-Fit T-shirt with Nike athletic shorts for my son:

(1) Adorable tank dress and (2) Sporty outfit with DKNY tank top for my daughter:

Both kids loved everything Wee Blessing sent and the clothes were spot on with the style profiles I filled out. I was thrilled to have new clothes delivered right to my door without having to drive to multiple stores and bargain hunt for the best prices.

The other thing I love about Wee Blessing is their flexibility. You can split four outfits among multiple children or alternate which child gets the next shipment. My family is definitely hooked on Wee Blessing and can't wait for our next shipment!

If you're interested in trying out Wee Blessing for yourself, now is the perfect time. With this CertifiKID deal, you get one outfit FREE with your first shipment - no minimum purchase required! Choose from Monthly, Every Other Month, Quarterly or Every Six Month subscriptions. You can skip months or cancel at any time. 

~ Barbara

We have a WINNER!

04.28.17

Congratulations to Instagrammer @sewlovele17 for winning our 2017 Spring Break Photo Contest with this amazing photo snapped at Adventure Park USA. You really captured the THRILL of the moment! How about those facial expressions? Priceless.

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos. There were so many great ones, it was hard for our team to pick just one winner! Here are some of our favorites. Enjoy!

Facebook user Joy Campbell McGuigan and her family used CertifiKID vouchers for TWO awesome spring break experiences. The McGuigan family kicked off their week on the boardwalk in an ocean-front suite at Bethany Beach Ocean Suites...

and ended their week enjoying some family relaxation and fun at Frontier Town near Ocean City, MD (this deal is still available!).

Looks like Facebook user Ruby Jazmin Knight and family had lots of fun at Wake Up the Bears Pajama Party Weekend at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Hagerstown, MD

Twitter user Emily Byers (@ebyers111) enjoyed a coastal spring break thanks to our Best Western Chincoteague Island getaway deal.

Adventure Park was a popular spring break destination for CertifiKID families. Instagrammer @ms_carter31 visited the park with these cuties. 

And our winner, Instagrammer @sewlovele17 also submitted this great photo of her girls enjoying the rides.

Thank you again for submitting your photos! We loved seeing all of the fun you had over spring break using your CertifiKID vouchers. As we approach our 7th birthday, our team continues to work hard daily to bring our CertifiKID families the best family-friendly experiences at the best value. Check out our current family getaway deals here!

Tags: spring break, spring break 2017, family fun, family vacation, getaway, parenting, kids, kid friendly, activities, deals

Share your Spring Break Photos and WIN FREE FUN!

04.05.17

Share photos of your family using your CertifiKID voucher over Spring Break on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the tag #CertifiKIDSpringBreak. If we pick your photo as our favorite, you will win CertifiKID credit equal to the amount you paid for your voucher!

Whether you're enjoying some of our local family fun, getting away from it all with one of our awesome getaway deals, or day trippin' to one of our close-by destination spots, we want to see all of the fun you're having!

For example, snap, post and tag a photo of your family enjoying your stay at the Historic Powhatan Resort in Williamsburg using your CertifiKID voucher. If we pick your photo as our winner, we will credit your CertifiKID account for the amount you paid for your voucher. How's that for awesome?

We will feature some of our top picks right here on our blog and through our social media accounts. Deadline for tagging photos is Sunday, April 23, 2017. One lucky favorite will be announced on Friday, April 28, 2017.

Get out there, have fun and share your photos! Spring Break may be on US this year!

Photos must be shared and tagged by 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 23, 2017 to be eligible. One winner will be chosen and announced no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT Friday, April 28, 2017. Winner will receive CertifiKID credit equal to the amount paid for the voucher for the deal shown in the photo only. CertifiKID credit is limited to one voucher or multiple vouchers purchased and redeemed together by the same CertifiKID account holder for the deal shown in the photo. Voucher(s) must be in the name of the CertifiKID account holder who submitted the photo. By sharing and tagging a photo in conjunction with this contest, entrant agrees that CertifiKID has the right use, reuse, publish and republish the same in whole or in part, individually or in conjunction with other photographs or images.

Tags: contest photo spring break family vacation free win trip fun activity parent kid

17 Ways to Ring in 2017 with Kids!

12.27.16

Whether this is your first year as a parent, or you’re praised among your friends as a true vet, us moms and dads know the startling truth – holidays with kids are just different, especially on New Year's Eve.

If your kids aren't passed out by 10:30 p.m., then they're probably ringing in the New Year with major meltdowns, having all of your kid-free friends mentally scratching your family off of next year’s invite list. Or perhaps you can’t find a babysitter, so you're heading to a restaurant with your adventurous toddler. Trust us, don't even go there.

Instead, check out these 17 unique options that will make 2017 the year you are rockstars in your kids’ eyes! 

1.       Happy Noon Year Celebrations!

Depending on age, your kids may or may not make it to midnight - hey, parents might not either - but having a happy noon year makes them feel special and lets them celebrate in a special way. You can do one at home, or check your local play gyms and libraries for festivities. I guarantee there’s one in your area! If you can’t find one, or just don’t feel like loading up the kids you can totally host your own – crafts, snacks and confetti for the win!

2.       Get Dolled Up

Once upon a time, and pre-kids, you spent days picking out your perfect NYE outfit.  Now, IF you make it out of the house, you throw on jeans, boots and a sweater. Whether you’re staying in or going out, make the kids feel special by having everyone put on their fanciest clothes and strutting their stuff – even if it’s just around the living room.  

3.       Toast the New Year with a Mocktail

Let the kids celebrate! After they’ve gotten all dolled up, give them something to toast with! You’ll be hearing “Cheers!” all night. You could always get a few bottles of sparkling apple cider, or milk and cookies, but this is way more fun! We found this awesome recipe on Today’s Parent you can use. Then you can poll the family and give it a fancy name, dress it up in your fanciest glass plastic ware and toast to 2017!

 

4.       Watch Fireworks

Make NYE super special for your kids by seeing New Year’s Eve fireworks. Most likely your nearest large city will be hosting a fireworks show celebrating the New Year (a few hours early). Bring a cozy blanket, sparklers and a mug of hot cocoa and let the fireworks light up the night!

5.       Go Ice Skating

Grab the family and head to your local rink for a few laps around the ice. Do some research before you go, they may even be having their own NYE celebrations, and your family can join in on the fun!

6.       NYE Family Fun Run

The family that runs together, stays together right?! Check out your local family boards for fun runs that are usually about a mile, but also have other fun activities for the whole family. Kids love it because they are active and usually get medals or trophies and parents love it because they get a jump on that New Year’s fitness resolution!

7.       First Night in your City

Celebrate the last day of the year with your entire family at First Night – a community celebration of the New Year in cities all over the country! Do a quick search, and you’re sure to find options for great family friendly NYE parties in your area! There are so many free events around your city all day that are great for kids! If not First Night, try the museums and other local performances.

8.       Watch the Ball Drop

There really is nothing quite as iconic of NYE as watching the ball drop in NYC. Most of us break into a cold sweat at the thought of taking our kids to see it live, but you can always tune in from the comfort of your own home! Some cities may even host their own version.  Check around to see what rendition of the ball drop your city might have.

9.       Have a Dance Party

You’ve elected to be at home for the official turn of the calendar, and that may be the smartest plan, but you can still party! Invite your kids to the best dance party – in your living room. After all, it’s what the best YouTube videos are made of. Show your kids that you still know how to get down with your bad self – don’t say that, they’ll know you aren’t cool. But you can let each person pick a song and create your own rockin’ NYE family playlist!

10.   Year in Review Scavenger Hunt

I’m a sucker for a good scavenger hunt, doing one with my kids makes it even better, and incorporating our family pictures and memories into it – WINNING! No Time for Flashcards has this awesome idea of printing out a bunch of your family pictures from the year and hiding them all over the house. Your kids will have a blast with this indoor “Easter egg” hunt! They not only have to find all the pictures, but then they must put them in chronological order! We absolutely love this one!

11.   Make a Family Fort

Most older kids resist the urge to get to bed before midnight, but still end up snoozing throughout the night! Grab the pillows, sleeping bags, stuffed animals, snacks, a few good DVDs and each other’s company will make the night a NYE to remember.

12.   New Year's Eve Bingo

Here’s another fun activity to keep the kids entertained and happy on NYE. NYE Bingo is great if you just have your family, or are hosting a bunch of families! Round up anyone who wants to play and be sure to have enough cards printed ahead of time. Playdough to Plato has some cute free printables for your NYE bingo game. Have them call out “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” when they’ve won!

 

13.   Year in Review Slideshow

Remember before iPhoto when you had to hire a professional to create a video slideshow of all your pictures? Well now anyone with a smartphone can download an app and make a high quality year in review video. If you are a faithful poster to Facebook, you can also gather the family around the computer to watch your “Year in Review” video.

14.   Cook Something Together

I’m obsessed with everything you can do with crescent rolls. They are so easy and delicious! Whether you’ve got the next Master Chef Junior, or if you’re an expert at ordering take-out, this festive appetizer from Pillsbury will get the whole family in the kitchen this NYE!

15.    Write Family NY Resolutions

It’s hard to believe another year is ending, and it seems to go by even faster when you have kids.  We try to have no regrets, as parents, but we all end up having them.  The New Year feels like a fresh slate. The entire family can learn a lot about self-disciple and the value of making goals by making it a family activity some time on NYE. Here are some tips from Parents magazine on helping guide your kids.

16.   Countdown Banner

The Crafting Chicks show us the coolest banner that can help your family countdown to 2017 hourly.  Each hour, the kids will have engaging activities to pass the time as the clock ticks to midnight!

17.   DIY Balloon Drop

Your kids want to feel like they’re in Times Square too! Although, they have no idea what Times Square is, nor the mania of being there on NYE. You can still give your kids that quick excitement and celebration of their very own “BALLoon Drop”. You can go the easy route and just throw some balloons in the air, or if your inner Martha Stewart is feeling crafty this week, check this out from The Daily Meal

Tags: UNITED STATES CALIFORNIA PENNSYLVANIA NEW YORK GEORGIA MARYLAND BALTIMORE TEXAS LOS ANGELES DALLAS CHICAGO WASHINGTON DC ILLINOIS HOLIDAYS FAMILY WINTER NEW YEARS EVE KIDS PARENTS CERTIFIKID TIPS

And Then There Were Two: Groupon & CertifiKID - The Last Remaining Daily Deal Sites

10.26.16

Our CEO and Founder, Jamie Ratner, reacts to Groupon's pending acquisition of LivingSocial and what that means for CertifiKID: 

Yesterday’s big news really hit home. Groupon acquired LivingSocial, its major competitor in the daily deal space. When I launched CertifiKID more than six years ago, there were scores of daily deal sites popping up every day, all pushing to be serious players in the industry dominated by the two behemoths – Groupon and LivingSocial. LivingSocial was DC-based, as is CertifiKID, so they were always our biggest competitor on the local level, even though we were focused on the family niche and they were focused mainly on restaurants and spas.  After our launch and early success, Living Social then started a family edition and further increased their offerings.  

As time went on, there was a feeding frenzy in the daily deal space, with companies – big and small – getting acquired, consolidating, evolving, dissolving, or just burning out on a daily basis.  When the dust settled, there were essentially three players left selling daily deals: Groupon, LivingSocial and CertifiKID.  Now with this acquisition, only CertifiKID is left standing alongside Groupon.  

Of course, it goes without saying that comparing Groupon and CertifiKID is not comparing apples to apples. Groupon is a publicly traded company, present in more than two dozen locations around the globe. It generates hundreds of millions in sales and has raised hundreds of millions in venture capital (VC) financing.  Plus, it has hundreds of employees. Despite these staggering numbers, Groupon has never been consistently profitable and appears to be in a constant state of transition.

On the other hand, CertifiKID has been profitable since its second month of operation and has grown by 20% or more every year, without the assistance of any VC financing. It employs a team of less than 15 people, all parents working from home. We now have more than 1 million mom and dad subscribers across the US. 

The CertifiKID recipe has shown that daily deal websites can be successful and thrive, while others fail. How did we do it?  With the right ingredients. Here they are:

1) CertifiKID has a niche – focusing exclusively on families – making us a trusted resource for parents, not just a daily deal site. Our customers and business partners know exactly what to expect each day from CertifiKID -- family, family, family -- while Groupon and LivingSocial have been all over the map, trying to be everything for everyone. 

2) CertifiKID expands carefully and strategically, with a "slow but steady" approach.  Groupon and Living Social – and many other copycats – were in a race to have a presence in as many cities as possible all over the US and around the world. This led to high overhead and a huge drain of resources and capital. I couldn’t tell you the number of 20-somethings looking for a job with CertifiKID after they were laid off by Groupon or Living Social and expecting a six figure salary.

3) CertifiKID invests time and energy in our merchant relationships, treating each one like a valuable partner and long-term relationship. Because Groupon's offerings are so broad and voluminous, it appears they just try to make as much money as they can on each deal and then move on to the next business opportunity. This bottom-line driven approach has never been our idea of good business. My team values the merchants we partner with, often having been regular customers with their own families before approaching them to be featured on CertifiKID. 

4) CertifiKID prides itself on phenomenal customer service, striving to respond to inquiries literally within minutes (including at night and on the weekends). We are also transparent when it comes to the terms and conditions of our deals. This has proven to be a key success factor with our subscriber base of parents. Moms and dads expect you to be up front and never put them in the position of dragging their 4-year-old to an event when admission is only for kids over five. Alternatively, Groupon and LivingSocial regularly leave out key details because they're focused on keeping their deal write-ups short and pithy, instead of giving customers the information they need to make informed purchases. As a result, I all too often hear people complaining about their customer experience with Groupon and LivingSocial. They might have huge email lists, but they don't have the engaged and loyal customer base we do. 

5) LivingSocial pooped out (as my daughter puts it) and took their eye off the ball (as my son puts it). Every day, my team and I continue to bring to CertifiKID the same passion and energy to our core mission that we had from day one when developing the CertifiKID concept at my family's kitchen table. We are committed to giving our mom and dad customers the best opportunities to try new things and spend time together at prices they can afford. It’s just that simple.

I will watch with great interest to see what Groupon does next after this acquisition. It will be fascinating to see what it means for the daily deal space, what it means for the Greater Washington DC area, and what it means for all of Living Social’s customers and merchants. 

What will it mean for CertifiKID? My sense and hope is it will mean more opportunities for us locally and nationally, which will lead to more opportunities for our customers and business partners.

In this period of change and volatility in the daily deals space, I am so proud of CertifiKID’s stability and consistency.  We have had a profound impact on so many families, helping them save big on things they want and need, but maybe couldn’t afford or didn’t have the time or access to discover. I am especially proud of our team members, who bring new ideas, innovations and value to our CertifiKID community each day.

Here's to a bright future for CertifiKID, our partners, and our customers. Thank you for your continued support.

- Jamie

Tags: Groupon LivingSocial "daily deals" deals CertifiKID "Jamie Ratner" "LivingSocial acquisition" "Groupon acquisition"

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