Every year around this time, I tell myself, “Ashley, you only get a few special Christmas seasons with your kids, slow down and enjoy it.” And every year, even with the best of intentions, I fail miserably at making December an intentional month. Parties, cards, and a whole lot of “One-more-trip-to-the-store-I-promise!” lines later, December is gone and I only remember running to the store. But this month, I’m holding myself accountable and making December slow and sacred. I want the Christmas magic not just to be something we hear about in songs on the radio, but something we feel and spread.
Today, I’m so excited to share with you this list of 8 things we will be taking time to not only do this season, but do together, in order to make this a special month of memories and traditions.
First, who doesn’t love a good cookie?! Whether you use grandma’s old recipe from scratch or you buy a tube of pre-made cookie dough, making cookies is such a special seasonal activity. And while I will agree with you any day of the year if you say, “Well, it’s easier if I just make them and then we can eat them together.” I get it. I have 2 toddlers that double the time it takes to walk 3-steps, but the process is so worth it.
To make it easier this year, I pre-measured everything out into small bowls cooking show style and then when it’s time to get started, they can easily dump ingredients into a larger bowl. And of course, it’s always more fun to eat cookies that everyone helped make.
Watch Christmas Movies.
Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? My kids like Rudolph, my husband loves It’s a Wonderful Life, and I’m a sucker for the lesser known Bing Crosby flick, Holiday Inn. Whether you pick, your kids pick, or you have a family favorite, sit together, soak in that movie, and snuggle close. The dishes can wait, the Amazon cart will still be there in 90-minutes. It’s tempting for me to flip open my computer when we turn Frosty on, but I’m really going to try to not do that. I’ll watch. I’ll think it’s weird the snowman keeps saying "Happy Birthday!” and I’ll enjoy all of the giggles and singing it provokes from my little ones.
Go for Walks.
My least favorite part of Winter isn’t the cold, it’s getting my kids dressed to go into the cold. Why does that take forever? Like it’s their first time putting a coat on. Every. Single. Time. Even if it’s colder than I want, and even if we will spend less time outside than it takes us to get dressed, this season we are making an effort to get outside and walk every day. Even if it means snow pants and 45-minutes getting mittens on. My kids see things outside that I don’t notice. I’ve made it a habit to leave my phone in on our walks, so no matter how short they are, the time is intentional.
Make Decorations and Cards
Whether salt dough ornaments (here are some awesome ideas!) or old-fashioned popcorn garland (like this one we will be trying out!) decorations are a (mostly) easy joy to make and so lovely to look at. And like the photos you labor over and then admire when they are framed, knowing the decor in your home was something you slowed down to make with your kids is sweeter and better than any decoration you can buy in a store.
We also took time this year to make Christmas cards. We will still be mailing out the photo card (because, #photographermom) but the cards we watercolored together will be used for thank you cards (something I am obsessive over my kids learning to do) and also how we wrote to Santa.
Just Spend Time Together.
Whether it’s looking at Christmas lights, drinking hot chocolate, reading a Christmas book (I could write a whole post on my obsessions with children’s picture books!) or volunteering with your church…just spend time together. If you are like me, desperate to make this season about more than gifts and commercialism, know that you have the power.
You don’t have to spend your whole month in Target for your kids to be loved. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on decorations and experiences for Christmas magic to be alive and well in your home, either. Enjoy each other, soak it in. You only get so many magical seasons with little ones, let’s not waste them distracted on things that, at the end of the day, bring us far less joy than the people we love most.
Happiest of Christmas Seasons!