Our Super-Fun, Super-Average, Totally Imperfect Christmas Traditions4:33 PM
Advent:First, we do some sort of advent. I am not very good at this. I tend to forget things. I tend to scroll through Pinterest to find a reading schedule and end up pinning living room design ideas. I have friends that go all out with advent activities. It's organized and special and cute to boot. #goals.
fun countdown paper chain (left). We cut a ring nightly. It often ends up in fights as the girls have figured out who gets to cut the last one and somehow each thinks its supposed to be her. I often forget which day we're on and have to keep counting the days in December. We often skip a night and I have to count again. This is me folks. We also use this schedule to read Jesus Story Book Bible. It's the perfect advent for kids. They love JSB anyway but the advent focuses on the lineage of Jesus and the build up of His coming. It's my favorite!
We're figuring this out since we're in a new area. We'd love to visit Hill Ridge lights one year but for the past couple we've done Piper Lights. It's really cute and fun. This year we'd had a busy day, left late, didn't put shoes on Dax, it took FOREVER to get there and we didn't have time to get out (plus it was cold and Dax wasn't wearing shoes). It felt too short. But the kids didn't complain and it was still cute.
We don't always do things in a timely manner but when we do it means buying tickets for a December event at 5 am in July. Pullen Park is one of our favorite places and we were excited to experience its Christmas event. Of course It was the coldest night of the year. But, we loved it. There were games, sledding, a visit with Santa, unlimited carousel rides, crafts, and of course a train ride through the park to see all the lights. Definitely worth it!
Getting a Christmas Tree:
We went the Saturday after Thanksgiving which also happened to be my birthday. Shockingly I scored our adorable Christmas card photo. (I mean, the whole post can't be self deprecating- I have to celebrate the wins people!). This farm visit was another first.
This is another informal advent activity. The girls love to paint nails so we chose Christmas colors and went crazy.
Baking Cookies for Neighbors:I got surprisingly cute tins from the Dollar Tree and included an invitation to our church's Christmas Eve service. I've talked about getting to know our neighbors before and other than Halloween, Christmas is the perfect time to knock on the door and say hi.
Christmas PJs shoot:Ok so this is more for me. We moved 10 days prior to Christmas last year so we skipped it but I've done it every other year. Each year it feels a little torturous but I treasure the shots! This year was amazing- at dinner that night Genevieve's High (we play "high/Low" where we share a high point of our day and a low point) was "taking pictures in our Christmas PJs with our awesome mom" High five self. You're winning.
(Last year's shoot above. A few from this year below):
Build a Gingerbread House;
Who's thankful for the ready made kits?! Anyone? We got ours from Wal-Mart. Easy and fun.
Shopping for gifts:I usually take the girls to the Dollar Tree or 5 Below but this year I made it rain at TJ Maxx. There are many great gifts for $10 or less. They buy daddy a gift set from Big Lots. I can't spoil the surprise as my husband is an avid reader (no. no he's not.) but let's just say overspending at Christmas because 3 items come in a box never gets old! They love wrapping the gifts they find and I love resisting the urge to push them out of my way, snatch the tape form their tiny hands, and straighten the corners.
Christmas programs:This year both girls had a program which was sweet (and as fun as it can be wrestling Dax for an hour). I love seeing them perform! Genevieve says she's afraid of crowds but did great. Yay for Nadia being tall (but sorry to the parents whose kids are behind her. Truly.).
Church services:We attend church all year but at Christmas our church hosts a Jingle Jam on a Friday night in December and then a Christmas service the Sunday prior to Christmas. This year the kids get to wear their PJs as they have a pajama party to celebrate Jesus' birthday. I sort of wish I could wear mine. Also it saved me approximately $50 since I didn't need to buy them Christmas dresses. My church is super low key and would probably discourage new clothes for Christmas but I'm carnal like that. I can't wait for the service. The worship team is AMAZING. It will set the tone for the rest of the weekend for me. If you don't have a church home, please join us!
Visits with Santa:
I'm probably the only mom too cheap for Santa mall pictures. We also don't "push" Santa much in my home as I don't want to distract from the reason for Christmas. Nevertheless the children love him and believe in him which I find funny and charming. This year we lucked out with visiting with Santa at the Holiday Express and at a friend's insurance agency. I mean, is this not the most beautiful Santa in the world? Hashtag I believe.
Act of kindness:First of all this isn't a tradition but I want it to be thanks to my friend Molly who does and records 25 acts of kindness with her little one. It's the most inspiring, sweet, fun, and selfless activity. (you can jump in and follow along here!). I have not gotten it together to do it but this year my mom made cookies with the girls to deliver to a local fire station and I helped and went with so I'm claiming it. ;) Ralph and Eric were very grateful and it was very sweet and I obviously rushed the photo but you get the point.
Felt Crafts:For years I've been meaning to make a tree. And I also got about 1/3 through this felt nativity kit. Luckily I grabbed a big gingerbread one from target last year so they play with that.
Thank you Target and Michael's for selling me a kit with everything we need for a fun kid craft for $5. Because we know if I had to go on Pinterest to find one, well, I'd end up pinning living room ideas again.
Watching Christmas Movies
So there you have it! We are so imperfect. But I share anyway because I've been so filled with JOY this year despite my unoriginal activity list. Christmas is about Jesus for me. And the more pressure I put on myself to make it about other things, the more stressed I become. I love that this year our calendar has sort of just filled up and I've taken time to capture some of the memories without trying to make it too perfect. Genevieve says to me "Mom, it doesn't have to be perfect. It's still beautiful." and that's just how I feel about this Christmas season. It might be busy. I might be behind the eight ball. I might not have ever made that DIY advent calendar or the Felt tree or nativity but life is beautiful. Christmas is beautiful. Celebrating Jesus is beautiful.
What about you? What keeps you busy during Christmas? What activities should I add to my non existent super cute DIY advent calendar? ;)