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Monday, November 14, 2011

Holiday Traditions #2–Deck the Halls

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holiday traditions
Decorating our home for the holidays is a family affair in our house. But we can’t start decorating until we make a batch of cookies! The first kind we make every year is my childhood favorite – Spritz. It isn’t really about the taste, although I love the buttery melt-in-your-mouth cookies. And it isn’t because they were a childhood favorite, although I have fond memories of baking these in the kitchen with my Dad. The reason they are my favorite is because they look so pretty and immediately make it feel like Christmas to me!
my kitchen helperour families favorite christmas cookie #recipesbaking cookies is a family affair
buttery spritz
This is just one of all recipes I've shared on this blog of our family tested recipes!

Christmas Decorating Snacks

The other preparation we make before decorating is getting together an appetizer spread. Everyone gets to pick an appetizer. Then, as we decorate, we get to nibble on some yummy treats. Typically we have caramel popcorn, cheese ball & Sociables, Christmas Cookies, meatballs, and Punch.  But it does vary some from year to year. This year we also had potato skins (something Tinkerbell could eat & somewhat nutritious) and White Chocolate Party Mix.
christmas punchSnowman CheeseballChristmas snacks
Christmas chex mixbaked potato skinsOur meatballs secret ingredient is the grape jelly! #recipes #appetizers

cocktail meatballs    
caramel popcorn
I think us adults, like kids,  are very sensory oriented too. When I think of Christmas I think of the smell of cinnamon from the Wassail my Mom would boil on the stove top, the sound of bells and Christmas Music, the prickly texture of the Christmas tree as I would help my Dad string up the lights, and the sight of all the beautiful lights that adorn our tree and home.  So to help my kids have beautiful sensory experiences of Christmas too, we always have some fun, joyful Christmas music playing throughout our decorating.
Then it’s time to decorate! The best thing I did was a couple years back I organized. I found that I was always doing all the decorating because no one else knew where I wanted things to go.  So I fixed that! After things were decorated I took a picture and labeled where everything was suppose to go.  I put everything in bins together. Now you grab a bin and decorate that room with the items in the bin just like the picture shows. Goofy can decorate his own room and my hubby is a HUGE help! We started out with just one tree, but each year when things go on clearance we pick up a couple new things. I try to make the kids room’s festive, without going overboard. I don’t want cookie cutter rooms that each look the same, so I try to spruce up what is already there. (For example Minnie has a pink princess room – so she got white light garland for her dollhouse & a little Christmas tree with mini Princess ornaments).
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We save the best for last ~ the tree! By doing it just after lunch time the younger kids will be going down for a nap and there is less chance of the favorite ornaments breaking! Goofy & Minnie are now old enough to help us. We love laying out all our ornaments and looking at them before we put them up. Each ornament holds a very special memory to us, but I divulge, more on that in Holiday Tradition #7. At the very end my husband lifts up one of the kids to put on our star like tree topper. This year I had a new special ornament for each of us. The kids were so excited to start things off opening a present! Now they look for that special ornament on the tree. I decided to start this because I always look for clearance ornaments after Christmas (since Hallmarks can get pretty spendy). Plus if you wait until Christmas you don’t get to really use it/see it much until the following year –this way they can use look at it all Christmas season!
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When the kids all wake up from their nap we have a tree just for them. It is a simple tree we got when it went 90% off at Walmart, but it thrills the kids. They get to decorate it with a couple non-breakable ornaments and all their beautiful ornaments they make that year! They can rearrange them on their tree as much as they like!
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And TADA – our house is decorated! The last part of our tradition is we all watch the original Grinch together on the couch while we admire our beautifully decorated home. Then we look through our Christmas album and remember all the fond memories we have of Christmases past.
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And this year I even decorated my blog =) Just a few subtle things: a Merry Christmas banner & Stocking Social Icon buttons. I hope you enjoy them.
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So I urge you to make decorating your house a family fun time! Create memories of decking the halls. Be intentional about making the most of every precious moment you have with your kids. 
merry christmas
tradition series

18 comments:

  1. I loved reading about your holiday traditions! Your enthusiasm is infectious! I love how the decorating day is a happy time together as a family rather than a chore. When I was growing up, my mom and aunt gave me an ornament each year and now going through them is so special to me. You're making such happy memories for your family- thanks for sharing!

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  2. What a wonderful collection of traditions and so beautifully presented.

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  3. This is lovely! But do you really decorate so early? (I know it's a bit different in America, but here in the UK the 'super early' ones decorate on the 1st Dec. We usually wait til about the 12th in our house.

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  5. ohh man all of these traditions are getting me so pumped for Christmas! We saw our first house with lights on last night! I am deep cleaning this week and beginning of next week then up go the decorations right after Thanksgiving!

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  6. Lovenotesmama - you are too kind & you brightened me day! thanks!

    Martianne - thanks so much!

    atnumber29 - it is interesting how different cultures are. I think the "norm" in America is to decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving (think last weekend in November). I LOVE Christmas & do decorate a week before that (a little earlier this year because of busyness right before Thanksving & travel plans)

    Beth =-)

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  7. Hey There!
    I plan on starting Christmas decorations this week, up first...finally making our family stockings. And maybe this afternoon hand print ornaments :)

    I just linked up on your TGIF party :)

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  8. so exciting- and the bigger the family- the more exciting it gets too! My daughter ran into our Christmas tree stores in the garage and insisted we put it up on Halloween day itself....so it was!

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  9. I love the smell of cinnamon, oranges and mulled wine at Christmas - that's the whole season for me!

    Blue Skies,
    Charlotte xo

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  10. This is such a sweet post! The green christmas tree spritz cookies are my favorite! I can see the sprinkles rolling all over the cookie sheet now! We would love for you to share your special traditions at our Home for the Holidays link party!

    http://www.uncommondesignsonline.com/2011/11/home-for-holidays-link-party-2.html

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  11. I love this post! Letting each kid have their tree is brilliant!

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  12. I don't even feel like it is Christmas yet, but this post put me in the mood. I want to make those spritz cookies right now. They sound a little like some cookies my grandma used to make, but she called the meltaways. Having almond extract in them will surely make them a winner in my book. So glad you shared with with Monday Madness! I am excited about all the recipes.

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  13. Those cookies are very similar to my family's traditional Christmas cookies. And your organization reminds me of my sister - she takes pictures also so she remembers herself where everything goes. We don't have enough decorations to do every room, but we do like to decorate right after Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing your fun traditions with us on Monday Madness.

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  14. Wow! I love the way you're so organized in your Christmas preparations, Beth! How great that your kids even have their own specialized room decorations! We typically put up our tree and decorations after our Thanksgiving meal - and add a Christmas movie, too! I pinned your post to my new Kids' Christmas Activities Pinterest board at http://pinterest.com/debchitwood/kids-christmas-activities/.

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  15. I have a similar recipe for meatballs and it is amazing! I love all of your traditions. Must be fun in your house :) I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thank you for sharing at Taking A Timeout Thursday!
    -Trish @ Mom On Timeout
    www.MomOnTimeout.com

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  16. Mmmm I'm looking forward to making those meatballs. I've made them in the past and they were wonderful. Thanks for the hop. http://watchmeplaynlearn.blogspot.com/

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  17. It all comes down to those special traditions!

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  18. So here I am, pretty excited about the idea of having more of these on holidays. I already made one of those last year for my "white" Christmas illusion dinner party. So far it is a hit with my friends. Ipe Decking

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