Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Counting Down 'Til Christmas Eve

One of my favorite things I love about the Christmas season is getting to share fun activities and traditions with Eli. Most of the things we do are traditions we've created for our family and each one is very special to us. Here are ten of the Christmas traditions our family does every year. 

1. Build a Gingerbread House. Sometimes our gingerbread house doesn't turn out so well, and some years it's worthy of a magazine cover. This year's house turned out okay and we didn't have any major issues with the construction. Maybe one year I'll get brave enough to bake my own gingerbread house, but for now the kits make it incredibly easy and fun.  

2. Neighbor Gifts. I've always given our neighbors some type of treat along with our family Christmas card, but the past two years I've done cinnamon rolls (Pioneer Woman's recipe) and they're my favorite. About a week before Christmas, I spend one weekend making all the cinnamon rolls. The best part about PW's recipe is you can freeze them until you're ready to use them on Christmas morning. I also make sure I have a couple of pans of cinnamon rolls leftover for our family to have for Christmas morning as well! Eli and I set aside one afternoon to drive around our neighborhood and give them to our neighbors. It's just a small way to show some Christmas love to our friends and neighbors. 

3. Christmas arts and crafts. I usually paint at least one door hanger to keep or in this case to give as a present. I love making gifts for my friends. This particular Christmas door hanger went to my friend Sarah at school :)

4. Christmas treats for Eli's friends. We always make some type of Christmas treat for Eli to pass out to his friends during their school Christmas party. This year we took Twix bars and turned them into reindeer. Aren't they cute?

5. Bake cookies and Gingerbread men. I always bake different types of cookies at Christmas. My favorite Christmas cookie is my Rolo Cookie. This year we also bake Gingerbread men. Eli had lots of fun decorating them.

6. Gifts for our trash collectors and our mailman. Our gifts usually aren't much (mostly cookies I've baked), but they are a great way we can show our thanks and appreciation to the men who provide these great services for us. Eli reminded me every time we left a gift that "Christmas is really about giving." I love that he's learning that lesson at such a young age :)

7. Make Reindeer Food. We love making this special treat for Santa's reindeer every year. It's just oats and sugar sprinkles, but it gives the reindeer the energy they need to make it around the world to every house on Christmas Eve. 

Eli will be the first to tell you that his favorite part is when he gets to add the sugar sprinkles.

After we make the food, we all go outside and Eli sprinkles the food in our yard for the reindeer to eat while Santa delivers the presents. 

We love going out in the morning to see if the food is gone and every year only tiny crumbs are left. Those reindeer gobble it up!

8. Bake Christmas cookies. Just like with the reindeer food Eli's favorite part of baking Christmas cookies is getting to decorate them, but I love sharing this tradition with him.

Notice I'm in my Christmas jammies again. They got a lot of use this season :) 

While the cookies baked, Eli took his bath and got ready for bed. He loved wearing his Christmas jammies as well! Then it was time to select a few cookies for Santa, pour him a tall glass of milk, and write him a note. 

9. Christmas books. When Eli was about one, I found a pin on Pinterest where it suggested wrapping 25 Christmas books at the beginning of December. Each night leading up to Christmas Day your kid selects a book to unwrap and read before bed. We've done this for as long as I can remember and it is one of my favorite traditions we do. Since I used to teach 1st grade I had TONS of Christmas books so I didn't have to go out and buy any. In fact, I usually have too many books to select from and wrap. We do a good mix of traditional Christmas books and books that tell about Jesus' birth. Eli loves them all, but he definitely has books that are his favorite. This year he was very specific about which book he wanted to read on Christmas Eve night...

He wanted to listen to the story The Night Before Christmas that actually has my parents reading the story to Eli. They recorded it several years ago and Eli loves listening to it every year. For grandparents that live away from your grandchildren, this is such a great gift for your grandchildren! Eli LOVES this book that connects him to his Grammy and Pop! 

After listening to The Night Before Christmas, we said prayers and tucked Eli into bed. He knew that he had to go to sleep before Santa would visit our house.

10. Decorating our house for Christmas. One of my favorite Christmas traditions each year is dragging out all the boxes and containers of Christmas decorations and making our home look festive. I love Christmas decorations and I love the way my house looks at Christmas time. It's definitely one of my favorite thing! Before I went to bed Christmas Eve, I took a few pictures of our house decorated for the Christmas season. 

These are just ten of the things our family does each year during Christmas time. I love sharing all of these traditions with Eli and Josh. I love that we're making special memories for Eli each year. It'll be fun to see which traditions he continues with his family one day and what new traditions he'll add. Here is a list of some of the other things we do at Christmas time:
-decorate the outside of our house in Christmas lights
-listen to Christmas music (on repeat at home, school, and in my car) all month long
-write a letter to Santa
-send a Christmas box to soldiers overseas
-make a box for Operation Christmas child
-send our Christmas cards
-read stories about Jesus' birth and decorate the Jesse tree
-welcome Elfis' arrival

Hope your family had a wonderful month leading up to Christmas just like we did! 

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