25 Days of Christmas...

A good friend post a picture in late November of her assembling little bags with an activity inside to celebrate the Christmas season.  I have been working towards being more intentional with my kids and I have found if I don't plan for it, good intentions don't make things happen.  I have also learned good things don't need to be fancy or cute.  So I set about looking at our calendar and seeing what fun things were already scheduled and then made a list of smaller things we could do in between as well as fan favorite activities we have done in the past.  Then wrote 1-25 on the back and stuffed them inside a little advent tree hanging on our back door.  The first few days the kids didn't really get into it or understand but once we started doing the little activities, they looked forward to finding out what special thing we got to do each day to celebrate the special season. Some were sacred and others were just random fun things...but each made this one of the most fun Christmas seasons to date.  We also purposed to say "NO" to things this year.  Our calendar was full but we tried not to be gone more than one night a weekend, tried hard to not double book mom and dad and enjoy lots of family time at home amongst the crazy!

Here are some snapshots of some of the fun we had and a list of our 25 days of activities...I might mix it up next year but I think it will return by popular demand :)  These are in no particular order :)

1.  Make Christmas cookies
This year for Christmas instead of the traditional sugar cookies we opted to use Great Grandma Wetherbee's favorite ginger snap recipe and make ginger cutouts to decorate.  The kids had fun and ate them all up!
We also made monster cookies, PB blossom cookies, chocolate covered peanuts, and caramel corn
2.  Deliver Advent calendars to neighbors and friends (this was an add on because my mother in law got a second shipment of the ones she needed so we were able to share with neighbors we don't know well to kick off their Christmas with sharing one of our favorite traditions :).

 3.  Deliver Chex mix to neighbors -- We made some mix and loaded it into canisters and the kids delivered.  They love ding dong ditching ;)
 4.  Go get hot cocoa/coffee in PJs and see Xmas lights (we all got Starbucks and then hit the road for our favorite light displays around town :)
5.  Read Christmas books by the light of the Xmas tree (we pack away our Christmas books each year so they seem new each season).  The kids loved turning off all the lights and reading by the light of the fire and tree!  We did this several times.
6.  Read the nativity story in your bible
7.  Leave your shoes out for St. Nicholas  (a tradition when I was a little girl)  some gold coins, fruit and a small gift awaited them in the morning.  Solon got a shaving set for the bathtub and Vera got nail polish, both fan favorites).
8.  Ride Santa train at the mall  (our local mall has a fun little train and you can get 3 tickets for $5 so even mommy rode with Lucy ;)  The kids love to go and see Santa from a far since we had already met with him and all the decor at the mall.  A fun family outing on a Saturday in early December)
9.  Have a Christmas music dance party -- we get this place rocking!
10.  Watch Christmas movies by the light of the Christmas Tree (we have a tradition of squeezing our couches together in the winter, popping homemade popcorn and watching movies).  We watched Elf, Home Alone, Santa Clause, It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas as a family this year!

11.  Make Jesus’s birthday cake (this year we made the Better than Anything Cake -- get the connection :)
 12.  Decorate gingerbread houses  (Papa and Nana enjoyed helping us make our little town, next year I will remember to hot glue the houses together first...:)

13.  Retell the nativity story with the little people
14.  Have the Porter’s over for Christmas, we enjoy our yearly tradition of raclette and exchanging gifts with them. 
15.  Celebrate with our small group Christmas Party  (this year we made blessing bags to distribute to homeless people and cookies for neighbors we don't know) as well as games and a white elephant exchange for the adults.  We also share the candy cane story with the kids!

16.  Sing Christmas carols and drink hot cocoa
17.  Stuff and take our Christmas cards to the mailbox (my kids are amazing stuffers and stampers)
18.  Today find one toy you no longer need to donate (this one is always hard but a good reminder giving is so important).
19.  Tonight have a dinner picnic by the tree (this was such a hit we did it several times)
20.  Go on the Polar Express (the kids go annually with their nana and papa.  They get to have a picnic on the train and wear their jammies and always come home with lots of special memories tucked in their hearts)
21.  Shop for your siblings and wrap their gifts (they are so sweet each carefully selecting and wrapping the gifts they picked on a budget).  We open these special gifts first on Christmas eve!

22.  Help mommy wrap and place Christmas presents by the tree (I remember doing this as a kid, my mom would always have us place the presents under the tree and I just loved seeing whom each gift was for, my kids love sorting and organizing and reorganizing the gifts too :)
23.  Play in the snow (we nearly didn't make this one but it was as if God knew we desired a white Christmas and lovely LARGE flakes started falling the evening of the 23rd and by the 24th there was enough to play in, we made snow angels, had a snowball fight, sledded in the backyard, and shoveled and capped it off with hot cocoa for our rosy chilled cheeks.
24. Read the nativity story in daddy’s bible/Go to church (we capped off the advent season with a lovely candlelit service.  After all the carols we sang all season, my in-laws were quite impressed my kids knew all the words to the carols that evening.  Nothing beats the sweet singing of your children to our Lord and Savior by candlelight).

And just like that with some intention, we sure made this Christmas season one of my favorites to date.  The kids are at such a fun age to enjoy the magic and splendor of the season but also appreciate why we celebrate.  It makes the season and all the craziness worth it especially when we can take time each day to make sweet memories...Merry Christmas Season!