Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve With Children

Christmas Eve Tradition For Children From Our House To Yours

On Christmas Eve many families spend time together in church singing Christmas carols, reading the Christmas Story through scripture, lighting candles, or doing something meaningful to them with family and friends. I would love nothing more than to get to spend Christmas Eve peacefully in a church singing and reaffirming my beliefs for the reason for the season, but... not gonna happen anytime soon! 
Two Christmas's ago, we all loaded up and headed to church for the Christmas Eve service. I had these wonderful preconceived visions in my head of us all singing, lighting the candles and listening to the Christmas story together - right! That's not quite how it happened! My youngest fell off the pew, our candles ended up rolling down the aisles, no one sat still and not only could we not enjoy the service, I was pretty sure atleast the 5 rows around us couldn't either. After that fiasco, my mother-in-law decided she would have our own celebration at her house until the kids got older. 
On Christmas Eve we go over to their house around 5:30 and
have dinner. After dinner we all gather in the living room and sing a selection of Christmas carols. 

After we sing the Christmas carols, the kids all pile up on the couch in the living room and Linda (my mother-in-law) reads the Christmas story to all of them. 


The next step in our "homemade" holiday service is to celebrate Jesus' birthday. We do this with the children by singing Happy Birthday to him and having a birthday cake. After we sing then they all get to blow out the candle together and go around and tell one thing this past year that they were thankful for. 

To conclude our celebration they finally get to open their gifts from them and get their stockings. This tradition that she created has turned out to be as memorable and special to the adults as it has for the children. The next time you find yourself dragging a crying child out of church, remember Christmas Eve can be just as special and meaningful no matter where you choose to celebrate. 

Happy Holidays from our house to yours,

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ornaments To Make With Kids

5 Quick Ornaments to Make With Your Kids

1. Handprint Christmas Tree 
To make this ornament start with a clear or frosted glass ball. With green paint, paint your child's hand and then print it on the ball with the fingers pointing towards the top. Once the handprint is dry, paint a trunk (brown), a star and garland (yellow) and then add dots fro ornaments (red). 

2. Crushed Can Gingerbread Man
To make this ornament start with one empty pop can - crushed. Paint the crushed can light brown/tan. Out of a coordinating brown foam sheet, draw and cut out a body for your gingerbread man. Once your can is dry, hot glue the foam body to the underside of the can. The next step is to use puff paint to add the details on the body and the face, glue on the wiggle eyes, pom pom nose and bow and your done!

3. Ice Cream Cone Ornament 
The first step to making this ornament is to hot glue a solid color Christmas ball to an ice cream cone. Once dry, drip white and brown or white and red paint on the top of the ball and let it run down the sides - this becomes your marshmallow, chocolate and strawberry sauce on your icecream! While the paint is still wet sprinkle real ice cream sprinkles onto it and voila' an ice cream cone for your tree that looks almost edible!!!

4. Wooden Star
To make this simple but easy ornament all you need are large popsicle sticks, glue dots, glitter, rhinestones, stickers or whatever you would like to decorate them with. Arrange your popsicle sticks into a star and glue dot them together. The let the kids get busy glueing, glittering and decorating them to their hearts content. This is fun and quick to do together and let's the kids creativity shine!

 5. Fingerprint Snowman Ornament
This ornament is not only adorable but a keepsake too. Start with a plain ornament (clear, frosted, solid blue, etc.). Paint your childs fingers white, 3 or 4 depending on how many will fit on the ornament,  and then press them on the ornament. Your child's fingers prints become the bases for your snowmen. Then let the child go to work painting on hats, scarves, carrot noses, buttons, etc. 

 Christmas ornaments can be made out of practically anything! The saying really is true that you can turn your trash into a treasure. Here are just a few more examples of some ornaments we have made. 

Wishing you peace, love and holiday magic during this holiday season,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Children's Holiday Books

Our Top 5 Holiday Books

This year, as the kids and I have read our holiday books together in the evening, we have discovered that there are a few that we love to read over and over again. I thought I would share these with others so they could enjoy them too. They have become our family favorites and will soon become yours!

1. The Little Christmas Tree by Dugald Steer.

In this book we discover how Santa's toys bring the magic of Christmas all the way home to the North Pole to a lonely little fir tree. This beautiful book has rich, colorful illustrations and embossed pages. It teaches us an important lesson about caring. 

2. Room For a Little One : A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell

This book tells us the story of the barn animals and how they welcomed a little one into the world on a cold winter's night. A very sweet and loving story that reminds us of the reason for the season.

3. Christmas Magic by Michael Garland

In this story we find that there seems to be an extra bit of magic in the air this Christmas Eve. Emily also develops a friendship with the new boy next door as they share in the magic. This book is a joyful reminder that no matter what else the holiday may bring, love and friendship hold the true magic of Christmas.

4. The Christmas Baby by Marion Dane Bauer

In this story we are told about the birth of Baby Jesus in the stable, and of Mary, Joseph, the animals, the angels, the kings, etc. rejoicing at the birth of this child. We read on to learn that every child that is born into this world is a gift from God and worth a celebration . A wonderful, touching holiday story. 

5. The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore / Mary Engelbreit

This is the book we read every year on Christmas Eve. It is the telling of the traditional Night Before Christmas, only with bright, whimsical, child-like illustrations. Your children will enjoy it so much, you will definitely read it atleast 3 times!!!

There are many holiday books to chose from, these are just a few of our family's top picks. No matter which book you choose to read with your family this holiday, the goal is the same : to find the magic in this holiday season, together as a family, in the pages of a book. 

Wishing you love, peace and holiday magic,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Trees

O' Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is the world wide symbol of Christmas. There are many ways to decorate your Christmas tree, from traditional to whimsical. Your Christmas tree should reflect your own personal style and loves.

This is a picture of our family Christmas tree in the living room. This year it is decorated with all of our treasured ornaments that have either been given to us, bought on a family vacation or made by the kids. This tree they always get to help me decorate. 

This is the tree that is in our kitchen. It is our "treasures of the sea" tree I decided to do this year. All of the seashells have been collected by us during our travels to Florida, the Bahamas, or Jeff's travels to China and Taiwan. The starfish on the top he brought home from his last trip to China. To make the ornaments I hot glued ribbon to them, clear coated them and then sprayed them with adhesive and glittered them.

The pictures above are of a traditional "ball" tree we do every year upstairs on the landing. This has become also a favorite for us because we are always on the hunt for a new and different Christmas ball to add to this tree.

These are pictures of a table top tree I found in a Cupcake shop inside the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. It is done in a whimsical style with lollipops, cupcakes, icecream cones, and candy garland. It was adorable!

Recently we took our children on vacation over Thanksgiving to Disneyland in California. Obviously, the highlight is the huge tree in the center of Main Street inside the Disneyland park. But there were also many other interesting trees to be found there. Here are just a few examples of some of the trees we saw around the park. 

The tree inside the Goofy's Kitchen restaurant.

The children by the tree on the boardwalk inside the California Adventure park.

These are just some of the wonderful Christmas trees we have seen this season. Any Christmas tree is magical because of the love, hard work and thought that goes into creating them. 

Wishing you peace, love and holiday blessings,

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reindeer Food

Making Reindeer Food With Your Kids

STEP 1 : Gather your ingredients

Ingredients : 
silver and gold glitter
red and green sugar crystals

STEP 2 : Dump your ingredients all together in a large pot

The oatmeal and the colored sugars are the food for the reindeer to eat. The glitter sparkles in the moonlight to let the reindeer know where to find their food, but it also is the magic ingredient needed for them to fly!!!

Julian, Hudson and Daddy 
Piper and Ethan

Step 3 : Stir all together

 Be sure and stir very well to mix it all together so that with each bite the reindeer get enough food and magic.

Ethan and Piper
Julian and Hudson

Step 4 : Divide it into bags and add topper

Once you have it all mixed, scoop some into individual bags and staple on your topper. About 1 1/2 cups per bag. 

Your finished reindeer food
Once you have finished making all your reindeer food it is time to put on your Christmas pajamas, Santa hats, turn on the Christmas carols and deliver these to your children's friends. This is the kids favorite part! They get so excited to share them with their friends and tell them all about sprinkling it on their lawn on Christmas Eve for the reindeer to eat. You can practically see their eyes twinkling! 

Making reindeer food has become a tradition in our family. The week before Christmas we all look forward to it and know that not only is it soon going to be time to bake cookies for Santa, we also have to feed the reindeer! 

Peace, Love and Holiday Magic

Monday, December 13, 2010

Deck The Halls

Decking The Halls All Through The House

The hutch in the dining room decorated with a collection 
of snow village houses, trees, snowman, snow and glitter.

OK - so some may say that I am a little Christmas crazy! I admit it. It's true! I love the warmth and togetherness the holidays bring among family and friends. I love the sound of Christmas carols and the smell of holiday baking in the kitchen. I love the sparkling of the Christmas trees and the house lights in the night sky. I love the twinkle that appears in the eyes of children, and adults, when they think of Santa and the magic of Christmas. I love bringing the feeling of the holidays to others when they enter our home, and if they leave feeling like they should belt out a chorus from "Joy To The World" then  I say - Sing it Out!!

On the left is a picture of the grouping on the table in the window. On this table I put snowmen, trees, cotton snow and glitter.
Below is an overall picture of the display all around the window in the dining room. Snow is the overall theme found in the dining room. It covers the table top, is used as a covering on the trees and also on the ground below the trees piled with snowballs and glitter.
In the dining room I try and create a winter wonderland. To create this I pull out my collection of snowmen, Christmas houses, bottle brush trees, snow and glitter. In the window I sat a table with snowmen and snow and then on either side of it I set Christmas trees covered only with cotton for snow and sprinkle a bunch of glitter all over them. Around the bottom of the trees I pile a bunch of cotton for "snow mounds" and then add in some snow balls. To make the snow balls I  buy styrofoam balls and cover them with stretched cotton. On the dining table I group trees and snow and then also on the hutch. To create your own winter wonderland all you need is cotton, styrofoam balls and a whole bunch of glitter. 

In the living/family room I decorate with bolder colors of reds and greens. This room is where I display my collection of Santas, our family stockings and also where we set up our main family Christmas tree. On the mantle I decorate with our Santas, hang up the stockings and place above it a giant wreath. The smiles and giggles these stockings always cause when they are brought out for the season are irreplaceable. The Christmas tree in this room is the main focal point and also very special to us. I put the beads and ribbon on it and then the family gets to it! On this tree is where we put all of our special family ornaments and all the ornaments the kids make. This tree is always changing and getting added to during the season as the children bring home more goodies to hang on it!

Left is a picture of our mantle all decked out with our Santas and below is a table in our living room. Creating a display that makes a statement is easy. Just group together items that are special to you and make you smile and they are sure to be a hit! Don't be intimidated - if you don't like it you can always try again!

There are many ways to create the feelings of the holiday in your home:

1. - Place out candies and cookies for your guests to nibble on
2. Set out glass bowls/vases filled with Christmas balls 
3. Play Christmas carols softly in the background of your gatherings
4. Have holiday scented candles burning or potpourri set out.
5. Have little goodies on the stand by for drop in guests - 
candy canes tied with Christmas ribbon for children, 
an ornament, candle or other small memento for adults. 
6. Set out Christmas napkins, guest towels, tea towels, etc. in the powder baths, 
kitchens and other high traffic areas.
7. Welcome your guests with a holiday wreath and welcome mat
8. Make a holiday display in your kitchen with gingerbread houses, jars 
and glass vases filled with brightly colored holiday candy and cookies
9.Use live greenery on top of mantles, table tops, hutches and stair banisters to 
bring to mind the feeling of the holidays. Decorate the greenery with ribbon, 
pinecones, ornaments, etc.

Once you capture the warmth and love of the holidays in your home - hold on to it all year long. With love in your heart, the holiday warmth and joy in your spirit and a little pixie dust, you will be the one wanting to sing "Joy To The World". 

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