So we rolled into Advent right after Thanksgiving and I set out to find ways to drive home the purpose and gift of Christmas with the kids. Part of my renewed zeal comes from feeling like we missed the last two Christmases (2011 was robbed with a major life crisis, and 2012 was a casualty of our emergency move from our first home).

It’s not like I have this down…I’m still exploring. Borrowing other people’s ideas, coming up with my own, and just seeing what works. So as I stumble upon things, I’m going to share them here.

Success 1: Get Christmas done before Advent. This worked REALLY well, but truthfully, I didn’t get done til about a week into December. Regardless. I feel a LOT less stressed because all my Christmas-ing is done. Presents acquired/made, wrapped, and mailed. (I really couldn’t extol enough the virtues of Amazon.com, their wishlist feature (which I used to capture ideas all year) and their Prime membership, which got everything here record fast.) Now I can just sit back and enjoy.

Success 2: Find magical moments. This year we got tickets to the Ice! exhibit at the Gaylord National hotel at a crazy discount on livingsocial. The whole arena is built out into a winter wonderland made of ice carvings! The theme was the Night Before Christmas, so the kids and I read that book every night for the first week of December. We surprised them after school with the adventure to the Gaylord — the Ice! exhibit was a huge hit, as was the hotel itself, the indoor snowfall in the lobby, the fountain light show choreographed to Christmas music, the glass elevator, and dinner at one of the restaurants at the hotel. Siah said it was a night he will ALWAYS remember. The greatest gift we can give our children is the gift of memories.

Success 3: Button was quite inspired by the local Christian radio station’s collection of shoeboxes full of gifts for kids in 3rd world countries. So she spearheaded our family making 3 shoeboxes for the kids. The kids made sure to fill them with stuff that they would love if they were receiving the box themselves. I was really touched when Siah included one of his favorite stuffed animals.

Success 4: Painting Christmas Ornaments! This is a Thanksgiving weekend tradition that comes from my wonderful years living with my college roommate, Debbie. The kids and I all paint our own ornaments. We send them as gifts and keep at least one each to put on our tree. These become the kids’ annual ornaments. Some of my favorites!

Success 5: Christmas decor and candles! Oh, how much the look and scents of Christmas add to the spirit of Advent. I love how our home looks this year– and I just hung all the lights outside. Had a genius moment — instead of stapling all the lights up, I drilled ceiling hooks into the roof and just strung the lights between them. It looks better, it was so much easier, and I can only imagine how easy it’ll be next year! Not to mention that I now have places to hang flower baskets.

Success 6: Christmas food. Mmmm pumpkin pecan pancakes, egg nog, cider, sugar cookies, peppermint anything, candy, Advent Calendars, etc. I’m going for a 5-senses experience for the whole Advent season.

More success ideas to come!


At the Ice! Exhibit with an amazing ice-sculpture life-sized nativity scene and a fussy baby!

At the Ice! Exhibit with an amazing ice-sculpture life-sized nativity scene and a fussy baby!

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