Christmas Countdown!

This is my favorite time of year! The lights! The music! The food! The traditions! The parties! The wonder!

Because there are so many things surrounding Christmas, it’s easy to get carried away and I am the band leader on that one. So, forgive me as I indulge in sharing a few of my favorite things for the Christmas season beyond the standard tree and tinsel. (I’ll try and restrict my use of the exclamation point).

Toddler tree

  1. MUSIC! Take an hour and create your holiday playlist to set the mood in your home. Make sure you get some Barbara Streisand, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, The Carpenters, Manheim Steamrollers, etc. in there. I also like to throw in some oldies like “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” a sure hit with the little ones and you’ll be singing it all day long, too. A cheater’s version is to create a Pandora Christmas station or two. A little funky favorite of mine is Sufijan Stevens Christmas.
  2. MOVIES! I have loved old movies since I was little and now my kids love them, too. I love the corny, romantic speeches and the beautiful hair and dresses, the technicolor glory of it all. So what if people spontaneously dance and sing–it could happen! So, our Christmas movies always include some classics and some more recent. Here is a list of what’s in our eclectic stack: Christmas in Connecticut (1945), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Meet Me In St. Louis (1944), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), An Affair to Remember (1957), The Bishop’s Wife (1947), White Christmas (1954), Christmas Vacation (1989) and Elf (2003).
  3. ADVENT! No matter how resolved I am to not let the commercialism of Christmas overwhelm the reason for the season, it’s a struggle keep it all in balance! In the past couple of years, we’ve included the tradition of the Advent wreath in our home and I love it! My mom always sends the kids a chocolate Advent calendar and we’ve also made the simple, red and green paper chains over the years (great with little ones as it’s a great way to practice counting and understanding the one-to-one function). One of these years, I’d like to combine those and make some sort of Advent-reading-treat-decoration creation…Pinterest has a ton of inspiration for that. Oh, Pinterest, you black hole of inspiration, you.
  4. COOKIES! Make the mess! I cannot emphasize enough how big the returns are on making cookies with the kids. Rolling the dough, cutting them out, decorating them, eating them–together! If your kids are a little older, it’s a great day to let them invite a few friends over and set up a few cookies stations for each person. These Christmas cut-out cookies are by far my favorite cookies to make. They work, they’re beautiful and they are delicious!
  5. JAMMIES! Each year we let the kids open one present on Christmas Eve–Christmas jammies! Even though we do it every year, they still are so excited to get to open a present early and are still over-the-moon about it–even though it falls in the dreaded “clothes” category. They wear their jammies to bed that night and we have cute, Christmas-jammied kids for pictures and movies the next morning. Too type-A? Well, I like it! 🙂

This is another fun part of the journey in growing your little families as you carry-over old traditions and create new ones all your own. Don’t be afraid to draw the boundaries with friends and family in an effort to slow things down and allow space for children to wonder and enjoy these times in your immediate family and home. I like to write a “note to my future self” each year and pack it away with the Christmas decorations. It’s my way of picking up where I left off from the last year and not getting caught in cycles of “Duh! I totally forgot that I would never do that again!” or remembering, “That was so worth it, we need to do that every year!”

Happy planning!

This post brought to you by Jenny Leggett, who also celebrates a birthday on Christmas Day, making things even more interesting!