Christmas 2021

home, Motherhood, Uncategorized

I’m a little late getting this post up, but I’ve been working around the clock making Christmas happen while taking care of a whole house of sick kiddos. After a week back at school, I’m finally finding my motivation again.

I used to be Team Halloween all the way growing up, but after having so many kids, I have to say: I think that Christmas may officially be my favorite holiday.

I love turning my home into a magical wintery Wonderland for the kids. I now dream of adding more and more to my collection over the years until my entire home is transformed for the holiday. I even considered getting rid of my other holiday decor (yes, even Halloween ๐Ÿ˜ฑ) just to make more room for more Christmas decor storage! Maybe I’ll just go the Nightmare Before Christmas route and just live half way between the pumpkin door tree and Christmas tree door tree and be forever happy.

Decor

When you first pull up, this bow is the first thing you see on our lamp-post.

I wrapped a cute red, green, and “snow” garland that I found at Walmart around the railing then added this adorable woodsy-vibe bell from Hobby Lobby to the bottom.

On our porch, I added our “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree for the kids to decorate. I hung mini stockings on a plant stand and put the light-up “Santa Stop Here” sign from Hobby Lobby on top for some height so that people driving/walking by could see it.

The garland on the plant hanger matches the garland going up the railing. I bought those two large bows at Dollar Tree a few years ago and they are still going strong. I filled the hanging baskets with ornaments, & hung giant, sparkley snowflakes from Walmart.

I switched out the Fall mums for these holiday arrangements.

Then I added just a small string of lights to really finish it off.

I bought these stockings for our family back in 2018. In 2019, I was able to add “A” to our collection for Athena. This year, this pattern was discontinued from Target. I was able to hunt down one more “M” for Moses on Mercari which was a total sign from the Christmas Gods- last baby, last M available in this print to complete our family of stockings.

I am sitting here just in awe. I can’t believe how beautiful it looks so far and it’s only my first night decorating the tree. I am so full of gratitude- to be able to turn our home into a magical winter Wonderland for the kids, for my husband who works his butt off so I can make it happen, for overall good health and a happy, loving family. I really have so many blessings to be so thankful for that I need to slow down and appreciate in the moment. That is my wish/goal for myself this Holiday season: slow down, live hygge with my family, and really appreciate all that I already have.

Sasha, Moses, and I took a trip out to find some new Christmas decorations. We picked out a lot of new ornaments together. We decided to go with a “Mrs. Clause” theme which I now plan to use for the rest of my Christmases.

Mia picked out this beautiful tree skirt that “reminds her of snow.” In person, it shimmers for miles; the picture does it no justice.

I found this adorable mini wreath in the Target “dollar” spot to put under my Aria diffuser. It made it look so fun & festive, especially with the tree trunk cake stand it is on.

Of course we have our Christmas Spirit essential oil by Young Living going all season long!

I hung this “Letters to Santa” mailbox for the kids to write their letters to Santa to send off to the North Pole.

The kids love to countdown the days to Christmas with this fun countdown calendar we found at Target a few years ago.

I kept the kids Christmas baking outfits at the table for an extra Christmassy feel.

I found this cute floral display at Kroger that went along really well with the rest of my decor. It reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the West’s sister.

I didn’t do a whole lot to the bathroom but I did add a few small pieces for fun.

Activities

The kids went to get their photo taken with Santa. They got to pick out a cute frame to make to put their photo in.

I loved this mail box so much when we met Santa, I had to get a picture of it.

Ella, Mia, & I went to a Reggae Christmas show with my parents and Kaden.

It was a really fun night, except I got my first parking ticket which made me cry. I haven’t gotten in any trouble at all in almost 10 years now which is something I have been really, really proud of and I felt like I was a total failure.

We took the kids to The Christmas Ranch for the second year in a row. Last year we only were able to drive thru, but this year we walked around and rode the train. It is such a cool place! It was an absolutely freezing night though, and hope that next year we will be able to pick a night that is a little warmer so we are more comfortable walking around the village.

We went out for a night at Kings Island Winter Fest. We had a blast and enjoyed lots of hot chocolate! I always love seeing the park all lit up in Christmas lights & decor. The older kids got to walk around and ride some big coasters while the younger kids stayed in Planet Snoopy riding the kiddie rides and making Christmas crafts!

We found this cute scavenger hunt on Pinterest that we walked around our neighborhood as a family to cross the items off our list. I loved that the older kids were able to read the list, while the younger kids were still able to participate using the photos.

Treats

Snowmen Cake Pops โ›„

We made a “Copycat Starbucks cake pop recipe” that we found on Pinterest for the cake pops, but instead of pink chocolate, we kept it white and tried our best to draw snowmen on each one. They tasted pretty similar to the real Starbucks cake pops, but it was very time consuming and turned out looking more like a distant cousin of a penguin than a snowman, but the kids had fun so ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ

The girls Christmas Baking Outfits came from Ikea a few winters ago.

Melted Snowmen Cookies โ›„

These were definitely more my speed when it comes to bakery item decorating. I found the idea on Pinterest, but used my go-to cookie + frosting recipe. They were a great beginner cookie design- very simple and literally impossible to mess up since the melted look is what we wanted. They ended up being really cute!

Reindeer Cake Pops ๐ŸฆŒ

Sasha & Athena were excited to get these adorable reindeer cake pops from Starbucks on a morning coffee run with mom.

Veggie Santa ๐ŸŽ…

I found this idea on Pinterest. It was so cute and only took minutes to put together.

Christmas Tree Cheese bread ๐ŸŽ„

This was another Pinterest idea that was so simple to make and tasted amazing! I offered both pesto and marinara to dip.

Dessert Spread

I set up a dessert buffet for the kids. It consisted of a cookie tray, marshmallows, fruit, and a Christmas Cookie “Dunkaroo-style” dip. It was supposed to have pound cake bites as well, but since the kiddos were sick my Christmas party was a bust and I decided to save that for New Years since there was already plenty of treats.

I set out sprinkles for the kids to decorate the whip cream on their hot chocolate, but again… sick kids meant we didn’t get to do the hot cocoa bar either โ˜น.

Hot Cocoa Bombs

I got these Hot Cocoa Bombs from Hyde Park Baker. They were a white chocolate shell filled with cocoa powder and mini marshmallows. When you poured the boiling water on them, they exploded. The kids thought it was really fun and yummy!

Advent Calendar

We LOVE our Trader Joe’s Advent Calendars. They have become one of our favorite Christmas traditions over the years. Papa George (the Candy Man) always brings them for us in the beginning of the winter season which really marks off the holiday for us as soon as he arrives with the big Trader Joe’s bag filled with them.

Elf on the Shelf

Some families go all out with their Elf on the Shelf ideas, but I take a more “done is better than perfect” approach to it. I enjoy watching the kids search for Elf in the morning, that’s all. We don’t tell our kids he is spying on them or that he judges their behavior in lieu of Santa or Jesus…. it’s just a fun hide and seek game for us.

I only documented my favorite times that Elf showed up, most nights were pretty lame to be honest. It was fun though.

Elf reading a baby Christmas book with his mug of Hot Cocoa by the Christmas Tree โ˜•โ„ ๐ŸŽ„
On our first snow of the season, Elf brought us in some donut “snowballs” for breakfast โ˜ƒ๏ธ
I thought this would be hilarious in the morning when the kids found him popping out of the toilet paper ๐Ÿงป

The kids favorite one was when Elfie “pooped” chocolate chips in a jar. I wish I had gotten a photo of that one.

Gifts

Teacher Gifts ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿผโ€๐Ÿซ

This was the gift tag which I thought turned out SO cute!

We got each teacher a holiday cookie from 3 Sweet Girls Bakery for the “C is for cookies”. Ella’s teacher got a cute little elf & Mia’s teacher got a sweet little snowman. We also got each teacher a Starbucks gift card for the “C is for caffeine,” then put it together in a small Christmas gift bag.

I had planned to get a photo of the teachers cookies, but only took one of the one I got to treat myself after the kiddos went to bed. They were all super cute though!

As a family, this has by far been our best Christmas yet. We were so blessed to be able to give the girls *almost* everything they asked for (why is my 8 year old asking for a phone anyway?! ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜‚).

I have really been working on being more thoughtful with my gift giving and I loved seeing each of their faces really light up with each gift.

Gift giving really has an entire different experience for both the giver and receiver when you really take the time to think about what that person wants or needs rather than just picking whatever to cross it off the list. It makes it feel so much more special and meaningful.

This was the only photo I got of any of the kids on Christmas. Maybe next year we’ll be a “matching pajama” type of family ๐Ÿ˜‚.

We even had a surprise sack that Santa left our family filled with a little gift for each of us. We thought that was so thoughtful and that kids were so surprised! They loved that Santa stopped at their sign!

Overall, this Christmas has been absolutely magical. It wasn’t everything I had planned for since the kiddos ended up sick, but it was still just as magical. I already have SO many ideas for next Christmas, but also very excited about all that 2022 has in store for us!

100 Days of First Grade

Crafts & DIY, Motherhood

Ella has now been a first-grader for 100 days (although with all of the remote learning we dealt with, it sure feels much longer than that) and to celebrate she decided to make a t-shirt with 100 gemstones in the shape of an “E” for Ella.

We used a youth pink craft shirt that we already had in our art supplies cabinet and purchased a large bag of gemstones from Michael’s.

First she counted out 100 of the gemstones that she wanted to use. I helped her draw a big block-letter “E” and she arranged the gemstones how she wanted them placed.

Once she got all of the gemstones placed, she used Gorilla Glue Crafting Glue to securely attach each one.

She was so proud of the outcome and was very excited to wear it to school today. She had gym, so she wore another shirt underneath so that she was able to take her gemstone shirt off so it didn’t get ruined during gym class and be able to put it back on afterwards.

We had fun making this shirt and it was very simple for a child of her age to be able to do mostly by herself.

I wonder if she will return home from school with her gemstones still in tact? ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜†

Birthday Garden Tea Party | On a Budget

Crafts & DIY, Motherhood

One of my very favorite hobbies is planning, especially for events. I dream of the day we find our forever home with plenty of space to host many elaborate parties for the rest of our lives.

Throwing Mia a “socially distanced” birthday party was my first event since covid-19 began, and I was ecstatic to be party planning again! I was a bit further behind on time than I had hoped, but overall my first “socially disanced” party was a success.

I’m excited to take you along to join us for an afternoon tea!

The Invitations

I had so much fun making these invitations and I was really impressed with how they turned out.

I found a free teacup template online, printed it out and lightly traced onto white card stock. After that, I bordered it with pink and added a pink heart to each teacup.

I typed up the wording and cut out each one to be able to fit inside the hearts. Unfortunately, by the time I realized that it looks best if you cut along the individual letters, I was already on my last one ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ but now I know for the future! I wanted the letters to pop, so I used drafting dots to attempt to create that effect.

I made a hole behind the cup and two holes above the cup to be able to tie in a string for the teabag and a bow. I attached the string from a white & gold foiled Christmas string I already had and attached the teabag to the string using a stapler to give it a realistic look. I asked my friend to tie a perfect bow for me because she makes beautiful ones and mine are downright sloppy ๐Ÿ˜‚.

I then bordered the pink with a brown to match the guest’s teabag and hide the strings behind the pink card stock and tie it all together.

The Spread

The waffle fruit bowls were a big hit! I bought 1 box of 12 small waffle cone bowls and an already prepared fruit salad and divided it between the 12 waffle cone bowls. We also had a cream cheese fruit dip to be used as a sauce to drizzle on top of each bowl, or to dip your fruit skewer in.

I would have preferred to buy my flowers from my friend, Celeste, the owner & artist of Village General; but due to lack of time, I purchased two small, half-price, day-old bouquets and blended them together to create the look I was going for.

I found some Celestial Caffine-Free Fruit Tea Sampler to serve the children. I thought that fruit flavored tea would go over well with the children, and there were multiple really yummy options for them to choose from! Even my pickiest of all found a flavor he enjoyed!

I had tried desperately to find some colorful macaroons, but had no luck tracking any down. I decided to substitute my original plan with meringues instead and that worked out just fine.

I made the pressed flower sugar cookies that turned out very cute! The other two cookies were purchased: Frosted Sugar Cookies in pink & of course, Verona cookies because you can’t have tea without those!

The bottom layer was simply a few boxes of powdered donuts, nothing too fancy. I would have liked to get the mini powdered donuts, but one package of them cost as much as 4 packages of the large ones, so I decided to go with those for budget purposes.

My mom found very cute little tea party plates that really pulled the theme together and came in several different patterns to match the various colors. They have an entire tea party set as well, that would make it even more adorable!

More food that was unfortunately not photographed was:

  • Chicken Salad Crossant Sandwiches
  • Fairy Bread Sandwiches
  • Ham & Cheese Sandwiches

The Activities

I found these plain white tea cups at the thrift store for 50 cents each. Each kid was given their own tea cup to decorate with sharpie to take home with them.

When decorating your own mugs or teacups with sharpies, it is important to bake them in the oven at 250ยฐF for at least 2 hours so that the sharpie does not wash off.

I had planned to incorporate the tea cups into a game of having the children race with full tea cups of water to the fence and back while spilling the least amount of water, but tea went into the cups before I was able to get that far ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ.

We also found many fun dress up ensembles at the thrift. The girls had a blast dressing up in boas, hats, and beads galore.

It was a really lovely day and I am very pleased with the turn out.

I cannot wait to begin planning for Thea’s FIRST birthday coming up in October (which if you know me, know that it is my FAVORITE month)! & Ella’s birthday in November!

Don’t forget to subscribe ๐Ÿ˜‰ & as always, PLEASE share!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through any of my links, I will make a small commission at no expense to you. Thank you for supporting a mama with a dream โค