I am slowly trying to make a few changes to our Christmas decorations. Every year I am determined to do a complete makeover but then I never do because a) I am cheap, and b) I am way too indecisive and always seem to walk out of the stores feeling overwhelmed with nothing in hand. Or, I buy the supplies for a project and then never start because I'm intimidated and then I also remember that I don't have 4 uninterrupted hours to devote to making a wreath. Ha! But this year I have taken a few baby steps so at least that's something.
I really wish I could get away with leaving up the Christmas decorations all year round because they sure do make my heart happy. Especially after having a December baby -- that first Christmas that we spent snuggling our little newborn next to the twinkling lights of the tree and the warmth of the decorated fireplace are some of my very favorite memories and I love how each year since the nostalgia of the season takes me right back there.
Speaking of fireplace -- here is ours this year. I got thrifty and used an old window that we picked up in Canton last spring. I used scrapbook paper and then printed 3 super cute chalkboard printables I found on Pinterest. When I was getting the stockings out of the box to hang, Harrison picked one of them up and said, Wow! What a cool sock boot!! and then put it on and ran around the house in it. This age is so fun.
|Printables from here and here|
I had been drooling over this mantel ledge from Pottery Barn for a couple of years but knew that there was no way it would ever be mine...and then I spotted it on eBay for a fraction of the price and snagged it up with our credit card reward points. I'm still trying to figure out just how I want it decorated but my plan is to rotate seasonal decorations.
I did get a wild hair and tried this tutorial for "the easiest burlap wreath you'll ever make" and I must say, it was, in fact, pretty darn easy. It just took one wire wreath form and two rolls of burlap ribbon (on sale at Hobby Lobby of course) and came in under $7 total. Did I mention I'm cheap? I'm hoping I can find cute seasonal embellishments to jazz it up throughout the year.
I got each of the kids their own tree for their room this year. And I LOVE them! Probably way more than my kids do, but that's neither here nor there.
|Harper's tree. You can't really tell from this picture but it is beautiful!|
And here is our tree. I actually kind of hate it. It takes me a few hours just to get the lights on it and shape all of the branches and by the time I'm done I'm not in the mood to actually trim the thing. I've been wanting to replace it for forever but it was never in the budget. Kind of one of those things where you tell yourself you're going to snag one after Christmas on clearance but then after Christmas you are so over anything related to Christmas.
|Sitting on a box (because it's short) and only about 40% of our ornaments on display and on the top half only (because I have two toddlers who reeeeally like to test boundaries)|
But this year was the year. I spotted this beauty a few weeks ago and fell in love...but sadly, not with the price tag. However, I have been stalking it ever since and it went on clearance this week and we snatched it up!!! It is pre-lit (can I get a hallelujah) with 1300 lights and the branches aren't the wired bendy kind so it keeps its shape all by it's handy dandy little self. It's the "realest" fake tree I've ever seen and I can't wait to get that sucker out of the box next year!
|Better Homes & Gardens Hanover Tree|
A few of our other decorations:
I love my Willow Tree nativity. My friend, Ashley, has given me the pieces over the years. I have my eyes on the stable (or as they call it, creche', because they are obviously very fancy) but I can't bring myself to drop $100+ on it. I have my eye on e-Bay and craigslist. And the kids are loving playing with their Little People nativity. Harrison put Jesus under his shirt and said, look mom! I have a baby in my belly! and has been so nurturing -- I often find him singing lullabies to him and rocking him. It seriously doesn't get much cuter. Harper loves him too -- she calls him Bebe Je-Je and is usually found trying to hide him from her brother. :)
One of my favorite things to do each day is check the mail. I love getting snail mail and especially Christmas cards. I keep them every year and eventually I want to bind them like I'm sure you've seen on Pinterest. I haven't gotten as many this year as I normally do...I'm thinking there are lots of people who are running late like I am. I just dropped mine off in the mail this morning so at least they'll make it before Christmas day...
|H&H have even gotten a few of their own cards to put up in their rooms.|
Here is a countdown and an awesome little advent calendar from Dayspring. Each day we read a little tile in the box about the Christmas story and then turn around the box to reveal another piece of the puzzle. I love that this is 3 calendars in one; one for Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. This advent seems to hold the attention of the kids the best because I also include a tiny piece of candy that they get if they sit still and focus. Bribery, folks. Whatever works.
Here is our Charlie Brown tree that we got from the tree farm to use for our devotional ornaments. I mentioned it in a previous blog post. We are reading through A Meaningful Christmas devotional and put one of our handmade ornaments on the tree each night.
And I am apparently obsessed with advent calendars because here is yet another one that I introduced this year. This was so easy to make. I just bought little envelopes with cards and then embellished them with scrapbook stickers. I normally use this frame to display their artwork in the playroom and the envelopes fit on there perfectly. I wanted to have something to hold us accountable to show love to others and do acts of kindness throughout this season. I love all of the fun and celebration this time of year but it's important that my kids understand the true meaning of Christmas -- spending quality time with family and being a light to others. We haven't used this calendar everyday since my kiddos are still a little young, but we've done a few from my list. (That's another thing that I love about this calendar -- the cards can be switched around and the activities stay flexible and practical to our schedule.)
Here is the list that I came up with -- some of them we've used multiple times.
*Make Christmas cards/crafts for family
*Set up nativity scene
*Drink some hot cocoa
*Put on PJs and pop some popcorn -- time for a Christmas movie
*Go pick out a Christmas tree and decorate it
*Drive around to look at Christmas lights
*Go through toys and choose several to donate to children in need
*Bake cookies for teachers, friends, and neighbors
*Sing and dance to Christmas carols
*Take some change from piggy bank and give to Salvation Army
*Read Christmas books together
*Go visit Santa Claus
*Adopt a child through the Angel Giving Tree and buy a gift for him or her.
*Go to Festival of Lights
*Go Christmas shopping for Daddy
*Mommy & Harrison Polar Express Night / Daddy & Harper date night
*Bake a birthday cake for Jesus
The biggest change I've made this year is to try to take off some of the pressure I put on myself. I tend to have a little bit of Clark Griswold in me at Christmas where I feel the need to not only make traditions happen but also try to force them and the participants to be happy...not exactly the best example I want to set for my kids when I'm acting like a crazy lunatic because things aren't going just the way they are supposed to according to the picture in my head. So I'm trying to relax a little more and let go of some of my anal ocd tendencies and to instead just enjoy the time with my family. Learning to be less uptight sure is challenging for a girl like me... :)