Christmas is quickly approaching… maybe too quickly. Do you realize that Thanksgiving is just eight days away!?! Eight! That’s only one day more than a week… and I haven’t even started to prepare! Actually, that’s not true. I already have a turkey, so as far as I’m concerned, Thanksgiving is in the bag. What I’m really starting to think about is Christmas. After all, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if you didn’t put up the Christmas tree that day (I have to have an artificial tree because I like to put mine up so early… that and because I sometimes don’t get around to taking the tree down until after the New Year… well after… like March). My Pinterest feed is filling up with Christmas inspiration and I am getting so excited about the holiday season. Just the other day one of my favorite blogs, What Would Gwyneth Do, posted a Christmas Bucket List. I thought that a Christmas Bucket List was a wonderful idea, so I am doing the same thing here. It’s just a little list of some (because I have a lot more) of the things we want to do over the holidays. So, without further ado here are 15 of the things on this year’s Christmas Bucket List…
1. Play the Holiday Movie Game: I mentioned this one last year in this post. One person picks a holiday movie and the next person has to pick a movie that has someone from the previous movie. For example, if someone were to pick Love Actually, you could then take it to Arthur Christmas because Bill Nighy, who plays Rock Star Billy Mack in Love Actually, voices Grandsanta in Arthur Christmas. Also voicing a role in Arthur Christmas (as Santa) is Jim Broadbent who plays Bridget’s Dad in Bridget Jones’s Diary (totally counts as a Christmas movie), from there you could take it back to Love Actually through either Hugh Grant or Colin Firth (if you are allowing movie repeats… we sometimes do, sometimes don’t, it just depends on the year) or you could get creative and follow Colin Firth over to Disney’s A Christmas Carol (he voiced Fred) which could then lead you via Jim Carry (Scrooge) to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. You get the idea. It is super easy always lots of fun for the entire family.
2. Make Pomanders: This has been a tradition since way before the kiddos (my friends and I started college after we read that Jackie Kennedy used to do it. If it’s good enough for Jackie…). To make a pomander, you simply take a citrus fruit of your choice and stud it with dried cloves. You can do it in any shape or design and they smell absolutely divine! To make it easier to poke holes, you can pierce the citrus peel with a toothpick before inserting the clove (my son developed this technique when he was four and I was amazed that I hadn’t thought of it before).
3. Make a Christmas Playlist: I love Christmas music we always have a great time coming up with a list of all of our favorite Christmas songs each year and then we look back and compare it to lists from previous years. It is fun to see which songs have changed and which remain the same (I don’t think we’ve ever done a Christmas playlist that didn’t include The Little Drummer Boy by the Harry Simione Chorale. It’s my favorite version of the “pum, pum song).
4. Go see Santa Claus AND Mikulás: Every year we have to make the trek to the mall to visit Santa and we make sure to attend the Mikulás celebration at the Hungarian church (Mikulás is the Hungarian version of Saint Nicholas and he visits the house, filling our shoes with candy, on the night of December 5th).
Write Letters to Santa: Until this year, letters have been mostly dictated to us, but this year our oldest is eager to write his letter to Santa entirely on his own. I know that this is going to become a cherished keepsake.
5. Snow Day: This may or may not happen before Christmas, but definitely before the New Year (as long as the mountain weather cooperates). My kids may be from Southern California, but they have to have a snowball fight and build a snowman at least once a year.
6. Make Gingerbread Houses: I used to stress myself out making gingerbread houses from scratch (or at least attempting to). Since they end up in the trash at the end of the Holiday season, it is much easier to just go with a kit. I let the kids decorate them however they wish and when the New Year’s celebrations are over, they go straight into the rubbish bin without any guilt.
7. Help the Kids Make Gifts: I love having the boys make something to give to everyone as a gift. There is something about making something with your own hands that makes you truly appreciate the act of giving. Thanks to Pinterest, it is so much easier to find cool crafts that the kids can make as gifts. Last year we made ornaments with fingerprint reindeer and they were a huge hit.
8. Get Inventive with the Elf: I need to find new and creative poses for Schoon-Zen, our Elf on the Shelf friend (this year marks Schoon-Zen’s fourth year with our family). This actually shouldn’t be too difficult considering all of the imaginative ideas on Pinterest. What we really need to work on this year is Schoon-Zen’s exit strategy so that he doesn’t have to stay through the New Year like he did last year (last year he also brought along a spare elf toward the end of the season).
9. Fill up a Box for Operation Christmas Child: My oldest actually came home from school with this one. Opperation Christmas Child is cool and very easy to do. You simply fill a shoebox with toys, books, toiletries, etc., and turn it in to one of the many drop-off locations along with $7 for each box to help cover the shipping. This week is actually the national pick up week so you still have time to participate, but you might want to hurry. Our church is also hosting a toy drive and food pantry, so the boys are helping make selections for those as well.
10. Make a Fruitcake: When people hear fruitcake, they almost always groan in disgust and that just isn’t fair. Fruitcake totally gets a bad rap. It is the Christmas dessert that people love to hate and I don’t get it. I really like fruitcake. Like, really like it. I’ve never made one myself though, so I figure that now’s the time.
11. Bake Christmas Cookies: I love giving Christmas cookies as gifts and each year I make our family’s favorite cookies along with a few new recipes. Having the kids help means that everything takes twice as long, but it is so much more fun baking with little ones, especially when it comes to decorating.
12. Make Hungarian Sausages: Half of this list revolves around food! Seriously though, it doesn’t feel like Christmas unless we’ve made Hungarian hurka and kolbász. You can see pictures from last year here.
13. Visit Candy Cane Lane: Every year we grab big cups of hot cocoa and make our way over to Candy Cane Lane to see all the lights. It is well worth dealing with the traffic see the look of pure joy on the kids’ faces as they take in the over-the-top holiday displays.
14. Sample the Coffee House Holiday Drinks: Time for Peppermint Mochas and Gingerbread Lattes from Starbucks and Winter Dream Tea Lattes from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. I’ll have to get each one at least once (and try anything new as well). And this year at Starbucks starting on November 15 (that’s tomorrow) through the 18th from 2-5pm each day, when you buy one holiday drink, you get one free!
15. Pick up the Starbucks Annual Christmas CD: This is one of my must have hoiday CDs each year. They always have a great mix of songs, new and old and I have yet to be disappointed.