{holidays}Document It

There was a time when I used to love to scapbook all the things. I no longer have the time or energy for that, but I still like to find fun ways to document the month of December. For the past few years I’ve used this red Leuchtturm journal and added in journaling and pictures. Some years have most of the month done and some, like last year, have hardly any. This year I decided to keep it going and have been trying to write down something or add a picture from every day. I especially wanted to remember our last Christmas in this house!

I haven’t bought anything for this journal, I’ve been using  whatever stash of paper supplies I already have built up. I did buy this Prynt Pocket photo printer last year that I really love. The quality isn’t amazing but getting to print the photos immediately and on sticky paper means they actually get put in the journal. Also it’s fun to print out a photo and write a note on it to stick in the kids’ lunches.

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Another thing I’ve started is the monthly minis subscription from Chatbooks. It’s $5 a month and you get a small booklet filled with pictures of your choosing! I started in September and love my little stack so much. You can use my link, click here, to get $10 off your first order. I think this would be a great Christmas present or something to start in the new year. I love how easy it makes it to have photos printed. My kid cheer every time one comes in the mail and they are so easy to set up, I just do it from the app since all my photos are on my phone.

I don’t think every moment of your holidays have to be documented, but I think these are two easy ways to record some of your favorite memories!

{holidays}Make It Cozy

Ingredients needed for a cozy holiday season:

A twinkling tree. Bonus points if flocked and lit during the middle of the day.

Music playing. Doesn’t have to be Christmas! I’m liking my best of 2019 list from Spotify.

Candles going. I got the Christmas Cheer candle from Target and it smells delicious! I also like the seasonal ones from Trader Joes.

Board games out and available at all times. Whether it’s a the game of Life, Exploding Kittens, or Monopoly, keep them out where you can see them and play them when asked.

A warm beverage. Cocoa for the kids, cider with whiskey for the adults.

Time together. Block off a Sunday afternoon, make plans for a Friday night, invite your favorite people over. Doesn’t matter what you do, just do it with those you love!

Mix together and enjoy throughout the coming weeks!

 

{holidays} Meaningful Advent

Yesterday marked the second week of Advent. I feel like September through mid November dragged and now my life is flying by! I’ve been working hard to stay present and in the moment and even without a huge life change on the horizon, I know a lot of people strive for that this time of year.

The liturgical calendar gives us a name for this time and as I get older I find Advent more and more comforting. The chance to simply be in the waiting, to allow ourselves to anticipate the coming of Christmas, it’s a beautiful thing.

Advent is not a countdown, it’s a season unto itself and it can feel dark and scary at times because the world feels dark and scary at times. I feel less alone when I hear the readings in the lectionary, that there are so many others across so many years that have not known what’s ahead but forge on anyway. This is faith to me, to believe that there is light in the darkness and to try to cultivate it within myself and Advent, especially in a year ahead with so many unknowns, helps me focus on that light.

This year our celebration of Advent is fairly simple and completely imperfect. We are reading this book together as a family every night, Anticipating His Arrival, that I picked up in our church bookstore. It has the readings for all three church years as well as discussion questions. We are also reading A Christmas Carol, one of my all time favorite books. It is so perfect, and even if you think you know the story I promise it’s worth a reread. We have just made it through the first stave (the first spirit is about to arrive!) and so far the big kids seem to be enjoying it! Obviously some goes over their heads, but they pick up a lot of Dickens’ jokes and imagery and I hope it becomes something we do together every year.

Besides this we are trying to find fun things to do together as a family and with friends and celebrate this time of year in the home that we’ve made and loved in this city that we will soon be leaving. It’s all a little bittersweet, but honestly I feel like that suits Advent more than anything. I hope this season is meaningful to you as well and that wherever your life is at the moment that you can focus on the light in the darkness.

 

Intentional Holidays|Gift Giving

If I’m being completely honest, this post was originally going to be a gift guide of sorts. Maybe a compilation of products I’ve loved this year or maybe a list of ideas on great gifts for kids and babies? But after a week of being bombarded by emails that yelled SALE and social media feeds full of things I had to purchase, my heart just wasn’t in it.

I’ve been trying to think how this year I can really teach my kids to appreciate what they have, to find that perfect balance of meaningful gifts on Christmas morning that they can enjoy but doesn’t overwhelm them. Then it hit me today that the way to get them to understand what it means to receive a gift is to get them to be a part of the gifting process for others.

They’ve done this a bit in the past, mostly wanting to pick out gifts for each other (which is adorable), but I’m hoping to sit down with them this week and make a list of special people in our lives that we would like to give something to. I’m also going to try and have some of those gifts be handmade. Taking the time and care to make something beautiful for someone we love is the best lesson I can give them this holiday season, right?

Here are some handmade gift ideas I’ve been thinking about. Beautiful ornaments, little stuffed animals, reusable food covers, cloth make up removers, and I have a pattern for sleep masks the kids could help me with. I have a feeling they will have some ideas too!

What do you do in your family to spread the joy of giving? Or what are your traditions of giving gifts on Christmas morning that keep the MOREMOREMORE feeling at bay? With everything going on in the world it seems like a silly time to be greedy and I’d love my children to start thinking of others and their needs on this small scale so that when they are older it becomes second nature to them. That is a gift I would truly love to give them!

Intentional Holidays|Countdown to Christmas

The holidays are here! I hope everyone in the States had a lovely Thanksgiving. Ours was spent laughing with family and it was wonderful. I was very sad to wake up this morning and send the kids to school and my husband to work.

My birthday is at the end of this week and it’s the time of year where I always reflect on the past and plan for the future. This is the time of year I look to resolutions and goal setting and I love that it always coincides with the new church year as well. There’s something to starting December with a mindfulness of where I am and where I want to be that makes this time of year more meaningful for me.

For the next few days I will be sharing how I plan to celebrate the holidays with intention. I have been thinking about what I want this month to look like for my family and how our time and money should be spent. With a new baby we simply cannot do all the things, so I’ve been honing in on the things that matter most to us and what I want the focus to be this season.

Sometimes I think the best part of Christmas is the anticipation for the big day.  Having a fun way to countdown brings festivity to the whole month and can become a fun tradition for your family. I consider this to be a separate thing from honoring the Advent season, and I’ll share more how we do that later in the week!, these countdowns are meant to bring a little daily excitement and togetherness and also are sometimes a great way to channel the kids’ enthusiasm in a way that doesn’t drive me bonkers!

For the past several years I have done a book countdown. I wrap 24 Christmas/Winter themed books and we open one every day and then curl up and read it together. It’s seriously the best and my kids always get excited when the stack of wrapped books shows up.

The first few years almost all the books were from the library, but now we have a great collection that I’ve accumulated through many book sales, digging in Mimi’s bookshelf, and special purchases for books that they asked to read again and again. I set up shop in front of a movie one night and get them all wrapped and then the hard work is done and it’s totally worth it! Even if you don’t want to wrap 24 books, I highly suggest pulling out some favorites or checking some out from library and reading them together throughout the month. I have wonderful memories of the books my mom put out with all the other Christmas decorations every year and cuddling and reading them all together.

Another tradition I started last year was to get the kids their own Advent calendar. We have a giant one from when they were little that they were growing out of and who doesn’t love opening those little squares every day?  I got the kids each a Lego Advent calendar last year  and they were a huge hit. This year I went searching on Amazon and found this Hatchimal and Squishy calendar. I usually hate buying both of these things (so much plastic crap!) but  I know they will spark play every day and be even more special since they are a treat! (And I don’t think individual calendars are a must, my brother and I shared one growing up and just took turns every day and somehow we survived!)

For myself, I bought the David’s Tea Advent Calendar for the third year in a row. This becomes part of my daily ritual during the month of December and I look forward to it so much. Besides the delicious tea, it forces me to take a moment and slow down and it is as sacred to me during Advent as the scripture readings I try and focus on. This year they are offering a couple of different options and price points and the tea is always delicious and high quality! A great gift idea too!

That’s how we are going to countdown to Christmas this year. You don’t have to do anything like this or you can do more, but the point for our family is that our book and Advent calendars are ways to connect and slow down and I hope sharing what we do sparks some ideas that sound meaningful to you! Remember, no one does all the things and no one does any of them perfectly. Set your intention for the holiday season and focus on that and it will be easier to drown out the noise that is so loud from the outside world and actually enjoy the holidays.