Can you believe the first week of December is already over? How are your holiday preparations coming along? I’ve got the bulk of my “pared-down” decorating done and it looks so pretty with our new paint colors. I can’t wait to show you all the changes we’ve been making. My shopping is almost finished. And the baking has commenced. So I am feeling a-ok about the approaching holidays. At least from a readiness stand point . . . .
We will put our tree up this weekend and, hopefully, my kids will finally stop whining. Who am I kidding – they will just find something else to whine about.
Today’s post is “A Few of My Favorite Things” – but this month I am giving it a holiday twist. The list includes some current items as well as some old favorites. While I have inlucded links, when appropriate, I am not being compensated in any way for these recommendations, I just wanted to make it easy for you to find the things I love.
So, without further ado . . .
My Favorite Christmas Movie:
This one is a no-brainer. While there are lots of terrific Christmas movies out there, Elf became an instant classic in our household and we always watch it as an entire family at least twice each season. I know I am not alone when I say I just love Elf.
My Favorite Christmas Song
There’s a tie in this category. I’ve selected one Christmas carol: “Oh Holy Night,” which was the senior solo song at my high school, and which gives me chills pretty much every time I hear it. I’ve also selected the classic, but not religious, Christmas song, Silver Bells. I think I inherited my love of this song from my Dad.
My Favorite Christmas Animated Classic:
Also an easy choice: A Charlie Brown Christmas. I just love Charlie Brown and his super sweet Christmas pageant celebrating the true reason for the season holds a special place in my heart.
My Favorite Christmas Cookie:
Now things are getting tougher, because as I think I have mentioned before I’ve never met a [homemade] cookie I didn’t like. Of the traditional Christmas cookies I bake each year my favorite is probably the chocolate thumbprint – a shortbread cookie filled with chocolate ganache. I think I’ll be making those today!
My Favorite Christmas Tradition:
This is another category that also really made me think. I’ve enjoyed a number of very special Christmas traditions over the years beginning when I was a little girl. Due to space restraints we always decorated our tree on Christmas Eve – a task I couldn’t even imagine today, but one that I LOVED when I was a child. It really felt like Christmas truly started when my dad plugged in those twinkling lights.
As my brother and I got older and could stay up later we began a new tradition – opening one gift at midnight before we went to bed, usually while drinking a glass of eggnog. That was such a nice tradition because no matter what kind of craziness came on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day we always had a few moments of quality family time in the midst of a busy holiday.
Since starting my own family I’ve crafted new traditions – some of which have stood the test of time and others which ebb and flow depending on the season of life. It sounds a little silly to write that – my oldest will be 16 this year and my youngest is still only 9 – so I do still have kids at home. But our lives our much busier throughout the month of December than they were when my kiddos were toddlers and pre-schoolers. When my kids were little, our activity advent calendars were always an important part of December. Each day we would do something “Christmas-y” – it might be making crafts, wrapping gifts, looking at Christmas light, playing a Christmas game, visiting Kraynaks, doing Crhistmas science or one of a zillion other ideas. But over the last two or three years most of the activities were left undone come Christmas Eve. So last year I decided it would be the final year for our Activity Advent Calendar. And while I was sad then I am most definitely okay with that decision now. I am thinking that maybe over the weekend we will make a December Bucket List with our Top Ten Must-Do’s of the holiday season – so we make sure that we still take the time to enjoy or favorite traditions, but we have fewer activities to focus on and have the liberty to choose when and how we do them. I’ll let you know how that pans out.
Another tradition that I love, and one that we are still enjoying this year, is the Elf on the Shelf. Even though I am pretty sure that no-one believes in the magical elf anymore, we still all love coming up with cute and crazy escapades each morning. My older two love getting in on the action and have planned some really cute surprises. It’s actually kind of fun to get to experience that side of this tradition now.
But my favorite Christmas tradition is reading Mortimer’s Christmas Manger to my kiddos before bed on Christmas Eve. I’ve been reading this story about a little mouse who pushes Jesus out of the manger to make his own cozy home for the last fifteen years. And every year my kids bring me the book to read to them before bed. I adore those quite moments with everyone snuggled up together on the couch, and I hope this tradition continues to have legs awhile longer.
My Favorite Christmas Gift:
I’m going to get all sappy here for a minute . . . without a doubt my favorite Christmas present ever was my baby brother, who was born on Christmas Day when I was five years old. He is my only sibling and one of my best friends. I feel so very lucky to have him in my life. Hands down – Best Christmas Present Ever! And also, the most memorable Christmas ever. But that’s a story for another time.
My Favorite Christmas Gift to Give This Year:
This is one “favorite” that definitely requires some delineation. I’ve broken my list up into 4 different categories, and while I recognize that there are countless other giftees out there, hopefully these suggestions will help spark your creativity. I’ve also included a couple of different ideas in each category. These gifts are affordable, simple and fun to receive. And if you are on my gift list this year, you might want to skip this part.
Best Friend: A Tin of Homemade Treats: Cookies, Candy and Chocolate-Covered Pretzels, a “fancy” Hand Soap and Lotion set because everyone has to wash their hands (of course I am partial to this Beautycounter set, but there a tons of great options out there), a pretty little notebook (I usually pick these up in TJ Maxx) or a furry throw blanket (also usually acquired at good old TJ’s for less than $20 – no need to spend a fortune here).
Kids: Art Supplies: Chalk pastels, oil pastels or watercolor pencils or even a great big box of crayons and Heavyweight Paper. I have given this gift over and over again and it never fails to delight. The child almost always launches immediately into an impromptu art session. I love that these simple open-ended gifts invite creativity and imagination.
Teens: S’well Water Bottle or Bombas Socks – both of these are slightly extravagant gifts, things a teen wouldn’t buy for him or herself. But neither one will break the bank. Plus there are several different styles of water bottles and socks to ensure that all tastes will be happy. I promise the teen in your life will love one of these water bottles and/or any of these socks.
Grandparents: Storyworth – this online storytelling tool helps your loved one preserve their memories by sending weekly questions for them to answer. You can curate the questions or keep them random. At the end of the year the stories are collected in a year in a beautiful book. My other go-to git and one that is much-loved by everyone in my family is a Shutterfly Family Photo Calendar full of your favorite memories from the year. And I am happy to report that as of 7:37 a.m.I have officially finished putting together this year’s calendars.
My Favorite Christmas Drink:
I’m going to go with two for this category – a non-alcoholic drink and an adult beverage. I know by now you are probably thinking, what else is new? Doesn’t this girl know what “favorite” means?Hey my list, my rules.
My favorite family friendly beverage is a Homemade White Peppermint “Mocha” (recipe coming soon), although I will happily indulge in the Starbucks version when I am on the go, although I do tweak the recipe to my liking (which is super easy with the app. You all are using the Starbucks app, aren’t you? If not, you need to download it ASAP. You can easily customize your beverage, orger ahead and pay all the app – it is the BEST).
As far as cocktails go I like to keep things simple. My go-to holiday drink is a cranberry mimosa with a sprig of rosemary. Sophisticated and delicious and perfectly suited from brunch or dinner.
My Favorite Christmas Game:
Yes, this is another category with two choices:
If we are talking board games then my favorite is definitely Christmas Scrabble. It’s only a slight variation of the original game with a festive red and green board, extra points for Christmas words, and some cute cards that make the game more interesting. My family takes their Scrabble super seriously and it’s a blast trying to come up with and convince others that the word we produced is a Christmas word.
I also really like Christmas Memory. Memory has been Kyle’s favorite game for a long time, and I especially like the Christmas version.
But if we are talking active family fun, then I am partial to Christmas Scavenger Hunts. We have done a few different varieties of this over the years, including a Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt, Christmas Gift Scavenger Hunt and a Holiday Trek Scavenger Hunt. I love that it gets everybody up and moving and always inspires lots of laughs.
My Favorite Christmas Candy:
Vermont Nut Free Peppermint Bark. You know I love all things peppermint. And I love this company that produces high quality, gourmet type chocolates that are safe for people with nut allergies.
My Favorite Non-Traditional Christmas Activity:
This is a last-minute addition, but one that I have really been loving the last few years. Somehow, the stars have aligned and after the gifts have been opened, the brunch has been eaten and everyone is relaxing with their new gifts, I sneak outside for a Christmas run. Usually it’s only a few miles, and usually it’s pretty slow because let’s face it, I’m exhausted. But I love that little bit of quiet time, alone time, outside time between the morning chaos and the dinner prep.
Now, I want to hear about your Christmas favorites. Feel free to share many categories or just one. And if you don’t share, that’s okay too, but it is kind of fun to think about the things you really love this merry season.
Have a wonderful weekend!