Sometimes, it's not about the gifts or the presents, but I find that the holidays are much more special when you focus on family, traditions, and those favorite events that you count down to each and every Christmas. We have started a few of our own family traditions and of course have also continued to carry on some of the ones we remember from our childhood... here are just a few of the things that make our holiday season joyous and fun:
I curse her name every day when I have to run into the living room and try to find the perfect spot for her morning amusement for Caroline and Carson, yet the idea behind the Elf on the Shelf is one that I absolutely LOVE and the fact that the creator graduated from UT makes it even more worthwhile to support... the girls smile and giggle each day when they find their tiny little friend perched throughout the house and making mischief and I love our little Roxie tradition. I think next year I might have to add in some outfits or accessories to jazz her up a bit, too.
We just started using our advent calendar this season and it's been something that Caroline has really started taking an interest to [not so much Carson quite yet]. I went through my favorite dollar aisles at Target a few weeks ago to stock up on little goodies to fill our advent calendar, and to see the wonder of a new little gift each day makes my girl so excited to head downstairs every morning. It's also been fun to write little notes of something they get to do on a certain day, like "decorate the gingerbread house" or "bake Christmas cookies with Mom", etc... although I cannot lie, Caroline's favorite so far has been the dollar bill she found in Day 2.
Three || Wrapping Paper
OK, listen up friends... this one is GOOD!! Got a problem with little ones [or husbands] who like to peak at packages to see what's theirs?? This will keep them wondering! I recently read about a mom who chose wrapping paper for each member of her family... for example, I could select polka dots paper for Caroline and then use a Santa Claus theme paper for Carson, plaid paper for Jeff, etc, etc. Well, you leave tags off the gifts and place a square of that recipient's wrapping paper into their stocking so once they open their stocking on Christmas morning, they'll know which gifts are their to open... genius, right!?!?!?! You best bet I will be borrowing this idea!!
Four || Christmas Book Countdown
I know some of you do this for your advent tradition, wrapping up 25 holiday books and letting your kids open one a night to read up to Jesus' birthday. We just place the unwrapped books under the tree and let the girls pick 1 or 2 each night, and those are the ones we read before bedtime. And what's the holidays without a little sing-a-long session with some of our favorite Christmas carols, too!!?! Yes, during the holidays, bedtime routine gets turned up a notch at our house. Some of our favorites include The Night Before Christmas, Where is Baby's Christmas Present?, The Christmas Quiet Book, Little Blue Truck's Christmas, and Merry Christmas Little One.
Five || Neighborhood/Town Light Tour
I have to give props to my dear hubby for this one... last year, he told the girls and I to get bundled up while he whipped up some hot cocoa and we piled in his car to drive around Brentwood and look at our neighbor's lights! The spur of the moment decision was what I loved, and the fact that we were already in our pajamas made it even better. The girls knew they were in for a treat, were getting to have some late night fun with their parents, and it made for a memorable night for our little foursome. Add in a local radio station that plays all Christmas music and it's something I am getting excited to do all over again! P.S. Want to add a little more fun to the mix? Check out this Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt Game, too!
Six || Angel Tree Gifting
I've done this with my parents since I was little and it's absolutely my favorite thing to participate in during the holidays... whether it's the Salvation Army Angel Tree or our church's AIDS Angel Tree, I LOVE having the opportunity to pick out a few children from the tree and get to gifting. This year, Caroline and I took a mommy/daughter afternoon date to Target to roam the aisles and spoil our kids silly with all sorts of goodness they had wished for. Teaching our little ones to give to others that are less fortunate than us is one of the best lessons I can teach them from an early age and I am so grateful that we have the means to do for others. These pretties were dropped off this week and I hope the recipients are thrilled with their Christmas presents.
Seven || The Christmas Train
Props to our Mimi for finding this hidden gem... the weekend prior to Christmas, Jeff and I are taking the girls on a mini-vacay to Chattanooga for the night to the North Pole Limited Train Ride. You hop on the train for an imaginary journey to the North Pole, and along the way they treat you to storytelling, holiday refreshments, and sing-a-longs. Lighted displays are featured throughout the journey and once we pull into the North Pole, a VERY special guest boards for a visit with all the kids... I CANNOT WAIT!
Eight || Christmas Eve Candlelight Church
We began this tradition when I was in high school and it's something that I think grows even more special the older I get... getting all dressed up on Christmas Eve and heading to church to worship with family and friends, lighting candles as we sing Silent Night, and then going out to dinner together.
Nine || Christmas Memories Book
I'm fairly certain I have talked about this book every year since we got married, but if you're a fairly new reader to my blog, you NEED to buy this book... it's a 20-year "diary" of sorts where you can jot down everything you did to celebrate the season for any given year. There is a place to show off your holiday cards, write down the gifts you were given, and other special memories that stood out. It makes a FANTASTIC gift [at just $20] and it's something I love writing in once the holidays are over, while things are still fresh in my mind.
What are some of your family's favorite holiday traditions??