Well, the kids are out of school and we've nearly arrived at Christmas Day. I can't believe how quickly the month went; wasn't it Thanksgiving just yesterday?
Jason is about to start his holiday leave, so we're about to launch into pre-Christmas activities here at the house. (That's code for: won't be around much for a few days.) We'll be doing a lot of baking, Christmas special watching, light-seeing, and monkeying around the house. I can't wait! We are especially excited about touring the Christmas lights in the surrounding communities. Christmas lights are not something that Germans do as a general rule; the boys have been absolutely enthralled with the displays put on here. (Izzy may or may not have made a big deal about someone's garage light. I'm not sure he really "gets it" just yet.)
I had originally planned to do a few posts throughout the month highlighting some of our favorite Christmas traditions. I started out with good intentions (see cookie and snowflake posts) but just never got my act together enough to get the rest out there. I've run out of time to put together an individual post on each of our favorites, but here's a look at what you were saved from:
Awhile back, I ran across this post over at Foursons. (Can you guess what initially attracted me to that particular blog?!) I saw that pizza snowman idea and just fell in love! So we went ahead and did it this year. It was a lot of fun, even if we didn't have all the ingredients we planned to include. I also really love this blogger's idea for a Christmas countdown. I may start that up once the boys get a little older.
jingle bell bracelets
This is something we ran across last year and it was a huge hit! It is incredibly simple (thread a pipe cleaner through bells), but kids really love it! The boys wore their bracelets for days. My friend Stacy over at Kids Stuff World added them to her winter activities and that is where I ran across them. (Her bracelets were much prettier than ours!) She has a ton of great ideas over there. I frequently get lost in the site, surfing from one great project to the next.
salt dough ornaments
This is an old standby for many families but another one that we just started last year. I don't even remember the recipe we used to make the dough; just Google "salt dough recipe" and find one that works for you. (I do know that we went with one that did not call for glycerin and it worked out just fine. Just so you know.) You can shape the ornaments yourself or roll them out and use cookie cutters. Paint away, dry, spray with varnish (optional), and hang on tree!
mock gingerbread houses
This may well be the boys' favorite activity. Who wouldn't love something that calls for graham crackers, lots of icing, and every kind of candy or cookie the kids can find. We've done these for years! Some fun ideas: upside-down ice cream cones as Christmas trees, square pretzels as windows, marshmallow snowmen, candy corn for "fire", or pretzel sticks for a log cabin feel. Just buy a bunch of junk and turn your kids loose; you will be delighted with what they come up with.
If you have a school-age child, chances are that you've done this one. The first time I ever heard of it was Sam's Kindergarten year. Find and mix some rolled oats, bird seed (tropical mixes make for a great look but just plain corn is fun too), and colored sugar crystals. We used to use glitter but that just didn't seem healthy for the birds. (You know. In case the reindeer leave leftovers. Ahem.) Maybe the sugar isn't either but at least it dissolves away. Just a thought! Put them in a container and explain to the kids that it is magic food that helps the reindeer fly. Before bed on Christmas Eve, take the kids outside (or find an awesome window like the one Jason and I had in Germany) and let them scatter the food on the lawn (or roof, if possible). So much fun to watch!
So this is what we will be up to over the next couple days! It may seem late in the month to be doing all this, but we always save the kids' favorites for Christmas break. It breaks the days up and keeps them busy. Plus, you know, they are less likely to drive me completely nuts. That is always a good thing!
Do you do a variation of any of these? Or something completely different? I would absolutely love to see it! Leave me a comment or a link and let me know. I'm always looking for new activities for the kids.