Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fresh and Festive Holidays!

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just a week away? Where has the year gone? Hardly seems possible that once again we are embarking upon the holiday season. I must admit, I positively adore the holiday season. There is something quite magical about this time of year.

I was given the opportunity to blog about 14 of my own personal ways for for a "Fresh and Festive Holiday"! So without further ado....

1. Holiday Baking - nothing says "Holidays" quite like the smell of baking.I love to make various kinds of cookies, bars, and candies to give as little gifts to family and friends. I love to watch the faces of those I love light up when they taste all the yummy treats that I've made for them.

Another fun thing to do when baking all those goodies is to host a cookie swap. Several years back I was invited to one and I admit at the time I had no idea what exactly it was. Everyone brought a tray of their favorite holiday goodies and then everyone went around and took some of everything and you got to leave with a tray full of yummy goodness!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies - a personal holiday favorite! 




2. Make your own ornaments! Last year was the first time we tried it in our house and it was a huge success! Trevor, who was 5.5yrs at the time, had a blast.We made Cinnamon Dough Ornaments and then snowflakes from plain paper. With the Cinnamon Dough Ornaments we cut them in holiday shapes and then after they were cooked and cooled, we painted them and sprayed them with shellac so that they would be preserved for next year. I don't know if I'd recommend that step though, because it takes away a lot of that smell you get from the cinnamon in the ornaments. On the other hand, if you want them to last longer, then shellacking is the way to go. The paper snowflakes we used glitter paint and decorated them. We also made a batch of plain popcorn in our air popper and strung that and put that on as garland. There really are so many fabulous homemade ornaments you can make. I think when you have small children, it's such a fun way to let them help in decorating the tree.

Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

Paper Snowflakes

3. Create your own air fresheners - I know you are thinking that this sounds like a daunting task but I promise you it's really quite simple. What I love to do is get some whole cloves and poke them into a fairly thin skinned orange. The juice from the orange permeates the cloves and gives off such a wonderful smell. I can remember my own mother doing this when I was a kid. To this day I just adore the smell of cloves. You can see step by step directions here.

4. Holiday music - it's a must! Nothing says "holidays" like the sound of Bing Crosby belting out "White Christmas". I love having the all music channels on the satellite because I get to have a constant mix of holiday music - some new - some classic - no commercials. And even the kids love the music too - I mean, what kid doesn't love the "Christmas with the Chipmunks"?

5. Christmas cards - I love to give and receive holiday cards. Every card we receive I hang on the wall in the living room. I love to be able to look at all those cards throughout the holiday and think of all the wonderful people in our lives who sent us those cards. I just got done making our holiday card for this year. I decided to go a bit non-traditional as you will see. But the really exciting part is that this is our first year with a family photo! Woohoo! Finally, we have a family portrait. I've already had several orders for my holiday cards this year. I love being able to create a wonderful design for someone! It's such a honor!
Our holiday card for 2010. 







6. Holiday pictures - these don't have to be portraits done by a professional either. I did ours using a wireless remote and a tripod! But the truth is, you don't even have to have a "portrait"....just taking snapshots is wonderful. You'll want to capture all those memories - all the laughs - all the tears - all the excitement. Next year when you sit down and look back at those pictures, you'll be so happy you did. I love to look back and see the growth of my children from holiday to holiday.
Christmas 2009
7. Candles - I love candles especially at this time of year. I love the glow and the delicious smell. Some of my favorite scents at this time of year are cinnamon/apple and pine. I am very much a scent oriented person - be it in the form of the smell of cookies baking or homemade air fresheners or candles.

8. Cup & Book - there is something quite delightful about curling up on the couch on a cold winter day with a cup of your favorite hot drink, (be it coffee, tea, or hot chocolate) and a good book! Cozy sweats, fluffy blanket, cup of coffee and favorite author in hand = relaxation!

9. Movies - remember being a kid and begging to stay up and watch "Rudolph"? Now I get to watch that and other holiday movies with my own kids. It's kind of this surreal feeling that I have my own little people now to continue these family traditions. We pop some popcorn in our air popper, fill up our cups with drinks and up on the couch we go to cuddle and munch and watch!

10. Speaking of movies, "Miracle on 34th Street" is a must see! When I've seen this movie, I know we are really in the holiday season. It is another reminder of my own childhood!

11. Holiday Light Parade - here in our town there is a holiday light parade with all kinds of decorated floats and people passing out candy to the little ones. It's bitter cold but it's fun for the whole family. Does your town/city do anything like that? If so, be sure to check it out. Maybe you've never been before, but there is always a good time to start a new tradition. Take a look at pictures from ours last year -
Firetruck all decked out!

Beauty Queens

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive! Let the holidays begin! 

12. Reading with your children - reading "A Night Before Christmas" is such a wonderful tradition you can do if you haven't started it already. I remember being read this as a child and it was always such a fun thing. I would lay in bed listening to the words, picturing it in my minds eye, hanging on to every word. Reading to your children is such a splendid thing to begin with, why not make it extra special this holiday season? There are lots of fabulous holiday books out there - check one or two from your library today!

13. Visit - perhaps you have an older relative who is shut-in...or maybe a neighbor or friend from church. Take some of those yummy goodies you made, box them up and tie them with a pretty ribbon and pile the kids in the car and go visit. You and your children will make that persons day!

14. Play in the snow - put down the bills, push aside the vacuum, leave the unfolded laundry and head outside. If you are anything like me, you hate the snow and outdoors, but you know that once you get out there with the little ones, you will have so much fun and they will be ever thankful for it.

15. Be thankful - as you sit down to your holiday meal - be it Thanksgiving or Christmas, keep an attitude of gratitude. Go around the table and talk about the things you are thankful for this holiday season (and every day.) What a wonderful gift you give to your children when you teach them to express gratitude!

Oops I went one over - truth of it is, I could go on and on. These are just a few of the ways you too can have a fresh and festive holiday. Leave me a comment and tell me about some of your traditions! I'd love to hear them! 

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