Are y’all in full swing holiday mode yet? I spent yesterday morning volunteering at the school, helping the kids get their picture taken with Santa and it was the cutest thing! At age 7, the magic of Santa and Buddy the Elf are very much alive and bring so much joy, but James also understands the reason we celebrate and is all about that too. It’s a precious time in a kid’s’ life and I want to soak up ALL of it.
For this month’s December Loves, instead of focusing on the physical items I love, I’m thinking about all the things I cherish about the season and the things I enjoy doing with my family. Having holiday traditions is so important to me and as the years go by, getting to look forward to them each year has become more and more a part of how we celebrate Christmas. Here’s a list of some of our faves:
Got one of them in there twice, oops!
Visit the Holiday Market with Mom
The first thing that rings in the holidays for us is our annual trip to the Nutcracker Market. It’s one of the only times each year that just my mom and I do something together without the kids. You can’t bring strollers and it gets really crowded, so it’s not really for young kids anyway. I am looking forward to bringing Jordan when she gets older though.
Decorate the Tree
Then, shortly after that, we put up the main tree in our home. This year, it felt extra special because Jordan is just amazed by it! Seeing the delight on her face when the tree lights up is priceless. Even if I almost went crazy getting the tree to actually light!
Drink Hot Cocoa
Even though I’m not as crazy for the holiday drinks at Starbuck’s, I happen to be a huge fan of their hot cocoa. I also make it at home with their packets and it’s really yummy! It’s nice to cozy up on the couch at night with a warm cup of hot cocoa.
Decorate Gingerbread Houses
It wouldn’t be the holidays without making a mess of gingerbread houses! I’m so fond of how perfectly imperfect they are and I just love to watch small hands at work. It’s the sweetest thing!
I want Jordan to help, and at one year old, there’s still ways to she can ‘decorate’ too. I gave her a bowl and added some sprinkles to it for her to ‘mix’. It kept her occupied for a little while, and she was all smiles . . .
until she couldn’t have a Hershey kiss!
This girl is too much, I tell ya! This pair is salty and sweet! Love them soooo much!!
Make a Holiday Dessert
James loves birthday cake pops, so when I saw this cute cake pop maker, I figured it could help us make them at home and it could be something we’d have fun doing together.
I found it on eBay, which I hadn’t been on forever because I kept remembering how you had to bid on those items. But, I stumbled upon them again when trying to find a link for that Santa Bag y’all were asking about. I got it at the Nutcracker Market and couldn’t remember the retailer, but eBay had a huge selection of them!
I didn’t realize that a majority of the merchandise sold on eBay is new and “Buy It Now” (with no bidding necessary). I thought you had to bid on eBay and pay shipping, but that’s not the case. Lots of items (they have over 1 billion!) and 69% of those items ship for free! So, I ordered the babycakes cake pop maker, but it comes with detachable plates to also make cupcakes and donuts. Really excited to try those next!
White Chocolate Cake Pop Recipe
3 oz white chocolate chips
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups white cake mix
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
nonstick cooking spray
(makes 48 cake pops)
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- Place the chocolate and butter in a small microwave-safe glass bowl and microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until melted. Set aside to cool for 2 minutes.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on low speed to beat cake mix, eggs, water, vanilla and white chocolate mixture for 30 seconds. Then, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Spray cake pop wells with nonstick cooking spray. Fill each well with about 1 tbsp batter. Bake for 3-5 minutes.
- Transfer cake pops to a wire rack to cool.
- Insert sticks to cake pops.
After they bake, pop them in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes so they’ll be easier to glaze.
I found it was easiest to make chocolate dipping sauce by combining chocolate chips and shortening over a double boiler and then dipping the cake pops into the melted chocolate. Before adding the shortening, the chocolate was too thick, but the shortening helped thin it out. I used about 1/3 cup of shortening and one bag of chips to glaze about 20 cake pops.
Dress up in Christmas Pajamas & Go Look at Lights
I almost got everyone completely in matching Christmas pajamas to go look at lights! There’s a neighborhood with gorgeous mansions and their lights are insane! I cannot wait to take Jordan this year and see her reaction!
Favorite Things Party
My girlfriend Ali-Shaun and I hosted our 1st Annual Favorite Things party at my house last year and it was so fun! It’s an all-girl party (with no kids!!) where we each bring 3 of our favorite things to exchange at random. Our next one is actually tonight and we’re making it a pajama party! I’ll definitely recap our party (the food and the gifts) next week!
More Holiday Gifts on eBay
Time To Do Nothing
Last, but certainly not least is carving out some time for nothing in what can otherwise be a holiday that flies by in the blink of an eye. Can I get an AMEN for that?! Maybe we make it a thing and stay in jammies and unplug our phones and computers and have no commitments on the calendar and just chill out. If we feel like going out, great, if we want to be couch potatoes, we do that! I have a bunch of homebodies in my house, so I’m sure they’d all happily vote ‘potato’!
I started to feel crummy this week- just run down and kind of like I was getting a cold, and that’s always a big kick in the pants that I need to slow down. It’s hard because there is so much we need and want to do in December, but we have to prioritize and say ‘no’ to save our sanity and to make room for those “in between” moments that really mean so much.
What are your favorite holiday traditions?
*affiliate links used in collaboration with Ebay