At the start of the 2015 Christmas season, Drew and I made a list of all the Christmassy activities we wanted to attempt in the next 5 weeks. It was pretty ambitious, including everything from visiting Santa to completing our Christmas song advent calendar.
And of course, no Christmas activity is complete without being documented for posterity. So without further ado, I give you: The Christmas Checklist.
In order to maximize our holiday, we picked out our tree the day after Thanksgiving. In the past we’ve always just gone to one of those pop-up tree lots in a parking lot, but this year we drove down to Half Moon Bay.
When we set up our tree, we got to use the tree skirt I made this year, which I am inordinately proud of.
We even had a little photo op moment when B put the star on top of the tree.
Also on our list was Elf on a Shelf. We got one last year, and we thought this year B would be ready for it. So yes, we named our Elf (Asa Swakeek, Sid for short), moved him around every night, and B actually looked for him every morning, and even occasionally listened to the mild threat, “No more throwing things/hitting/yelling, the Elf is watching you.”
We tried to get a nice picture for our Christmas cards, but were unsuccessful at our one attempt here, and decided to just wait for our mall photo session…a good choice, as it turned out.
We also wanted to make Christmas treats, like cookies and a gingerbread house. Then I found a recipe online for these cinnamon ornaments, which I remember making as a kid. They’re literally just unsweetened applesauce and a whole thing of cinnamon, with a little bit of craft glue thrown in. Then we decorated them with puffy paint and glitter glue.
The gingerbread house decorating was also a huge success. It took up a large portion of one evening, and B was really cute, and actually helped decorate instead of just eating the candy. It probably helped that we didn’t tell him it was candy until it was almost over, so I think he just thought they were small plastic pieces.
Also originally on our list was going to the Dickens Fair, but we very wisely took that off the list when we actually thought about whether a three-year-old would enjoy it, and then what the chances were that we would enjoy it if he hated it. Scratch that idea. Good job, us. (This Christmas was about making wise choices.)
No Christmas season is complete without a visit to Santa. Our tradition is to go super early so we’re first in line on a weekday. First in line…and only one in line this year. We were just hoping for a picture with both kids in it, and assumed that one or both would be crying. But check this out!
Throughout this whole season, we were also doing our Christmas carol advent calendar. Drew got this advent calendar from Starbucks, which has stale-tasting chocolates inside Christmas ornaments numbered 1-25. We took out all the chocolates and put Christmas songs inside instead. Then every night (theoretically) we would open a new ornament and sing a new song. I wasn’t sure how this would go, but B really loved it, and got excited about doing each new song. He particularly likes “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph,” and also has a song of his own that just goes “Christmas Christmas Christmas reindeer red nose snow.” Drew did good on that one. (The advent calendar was all his idea.)
Another Christmas tradition is to go walk through the South City neighborhood with all the lights. We kept putting it off and off, and then one night when it was only slightly rainy, we went anyway. It wasn’t crowded at all (well, it was a Tuesday) and the weather held up until we were on our way back to the car, when it started raining that kind of little needly rain. Parenting!
When we got back to the car, we were so pleased with how it had gone that we decided to try to go to Erin’s cookie decorating party that we had previously declined. But upon exiting the car in the parking garage, we realized that H had had a blowout through her adorable Christmas sleep and play. Drew tried to cover it with his hand so we could at least go in and say hi. Once inside, I realized that B had also had a (small) accident. So we ran interference between the two of them and anyone or anything in the apartment. But when a girl I have never met before said H was really cute and asked if she could hold her, Drew had to fess up, and we left soon after that. Parenting!
We crammed a lot of activities into Christmas Eve, including a morning playdate where the kids decorated cookies. To get ready, B and I made the cookies first thing when we got up.
Crossing off “cookies” was really the last thing on our Christmas checklist, which I found extremely satisfying. But we still had a Christmas Eve dinner party that night, which doubled as another playdate. Two playdates in one day! Parenting!
Finally it was time for Christmas morning! We all slept in after our late Christmas Eve party. B played happily with one set of toys all morning, while we periodically coaxed him away to open presents. It was cozy and relaxed, and except for me underbaking the monkey bread I made for breakfast, just like a Christmas movie. One that takes place in a location without snow.
We did it! Merry Christmas! Christmas checklist completed!
I hope you all had a happy and blessed Christmas season! And next year, we are for sure doing the Dickens Fair. Four-year-olds love Dickens.