Blogmas, Christmas, Holidays

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Welcome to Blogmas 2017! We are so excited to have Emily from Coffee, Mom, Repeat with us today!

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

The Pros & Cons of Traveling vs. Staying Home this holiday season.

Ah the sounds of kids fighting in the backseat. The crying of a baby across the aisle on the plane. We’ve all been there. Questioning our sanity in the 4th hour of a 6 hour car ride. Or wondering if the flight attendant will ever stop giving you those looks of pity before the plane lands. But we also love to reminisce about our own childhoods, those road trips with our families, on our way to spend the holidays with cousins and grandparents. So we’re keenly aware of the memories our kids will make, the times they’ll cherish when they’re older. How do we decide the trips that are worth taking? And how do we decide when it’s time to stay put and create our own family traditions?Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 8.08.41 PM

Personally, we didn’t plan ahead a whole lot our son’s first year. I wish we had. Instead we spent the whole year trying to making everyone else happy. We spent more time on the road with our baby in his first year, than we did the next two years combined. As a result, by his second Christmas, we were tapped out. We decided to stay home. And even though we lived in a fairly small two bedroom apartment at the time, we hosted my parents and brother & sister-in-law. And it was wonderful. There was a little guilt that we didn’t see the other side of the family, but in the end we had to just let it go.

When it’s time to stay home.

There are plenty of reasons why staying home with your kids is a viable option this holiday. Here are just a few.

Everyone gets to sleep in their own beds.

This might be my favorite reason for staying home for the holidays. Some kids can sleep anywhere, but babies and toddlers sometimes have a hard time adjusting to alternative sleeping arrangements when they’re away from home. As adults we know how much we miss our own beds when sleeping in hotels, or on sofa beds or even air mattresses. So depending on the ages of your kids, this alone might the mitigating factor in your holiday plan decision making.

You want to start your own traditions with your own kids.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 8.08.51 PMChristmas with cousins is the best. I have very fond memories of holidays with my cousins growing up. They always lived far away, and getting to spend time with them was something special that we always looked forward to. But staying home can also give you the opportunity to begin new holiday traditions with just your kids. Maybe it’s serving Thanksgiving dinner at the homeless shelter together. Or making an advent calendar and counting down together. Or perhaps it’s just a special Christmas morning breakfast you make every year that your kids will talk about their whole life. Either way, these times are what families are all about.  

Opening your home to those who can’t travel.

This might be my favorite perk to staying home. If you like to host, or even just really enjoy caring for others, this may be the most important reason you chose to stay home this year. There is often someone in our circle who maybe has to work on Christmas, or whose family lives too far and maybe they can’t afford to fly. Offering a place to have a Christmas meal and share in some of your family’s traditions may be an incredible gift to someone. Likewise, staying home with your family can save you a lot of money on gas, airline tickets, hotel rooms, etc.


When you should consider taking that trip.

Holidays are meant for families.

And living in this post recession era when it’s common to move more than once, or twice, for your career means that a lot of people don’t have the luxury of living near their entire extended family. Sometimes when you have the opportunity to take time off work and travel during the holidays, you should embrace it.

Life is short, spend it wisely.

We are not guaranteed anything in life, except that it is unpredictable. And spending time with our loved ones is something we should never take for granted. A major pro to traveling for the holidays is that it may give your kids that rare opportunity to spend precious time with extended family they don’t get to see very often.

Not hosting means less work for you.

Of course, being a gracious houseguest means offering a helping hand. But when you’re not the one hosting the holiday, a lot of the pressure comes off. You may actually get to enjoy more of your holidays, because you’re not consumed with cleaning, cooking, and all the lists.

You could have a different holiday.

If you’re going to travel, consider doing something out of the ordinary. A lot of tropical destinations are discounted in the off season, for example. Visiting places like Hawaii are less crowded and few tourists are flocking to popular attractions. If you live in warmer or beach climate, traveling could give you the possibility of a white Christmas! Create a Christmas your kids will never forget, and talk about into adulthood.    

You can’t please everyone, so stop trying.

The holidays can bring up all kinds of emotions, not all of them good. Some people have negative childhood experiences they’ve hung onto, and have a difficult time enjoying the season. Others may have lost a loved one recently and the holidays remind them of that person’s absence. It’s important to remember that no matter what you choose, traveling or staying home, you will not please everyone. Making your decision based on who else will be happy or disappointed will ultimately result in a lot of unhappiness and guilt. Stand firm in your decision once you’ve made it. If you are afraid of disappointing someone, let them down gently. Take their feelings into consideration when explaining your decision. In the end, they’ll appreciate that you took the time to communicate effectively.  


Whether you’re staying home or traveling this holiday season, try to remember the reason we celebrate. It’s about loving each other, and giving rather than receiving. If our focus is instilling these values in our kids, I believe the rest will fall into place. If you are taking a road trip with toddlers or babies this holiday season, click here for some essential survival tips.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy holiday season; wherever you may be.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 8.09.03 PM

Emily Torres is a the stay-at-home-mom to her three year old son, a writer and enthusiastic homemaker. She blogs over at Coffee, Mom, Repeat on parenting, cooking, planning and motherhood.


Should You Stay or Should you go?

Blogmas, Christmas, Holidays

Expert Hacks for your Smoothest Christmas Morning EVER

Welcome to Blogmas 2017! I am so excited for Flossie to be our guest blogger today! She has been one of ny biggest cheerleaders and a huge help to me since I started blogging! Visit her and say, “Hi!” at SuperMom Hacks

For many kids, Christmas morning is the most magical time of year. There’s nothing like coming downstairs to see a tree with presents underneath, and watching our kids’ faces full of wonder is enough to bring us back to when we, too, felt that wonder and excitement one morning a year.

But as a busy mama trying to create that blissful scene for her family, the “perfect” Christmas morning can be hard to achieve.

Before Kimmie was born, we used to travel to both families for Christmas. This meant 6 hours’ drive to my mama’s house, 5 hours’ drive from there to my in-laws on Christmas Day, then 5 hours’ drive home.

Since this is not a very kid-friendly plan, we’ve hosted Christmas for most of the seven years since becoming parents. This means having my widowed mama, my mother- and father-in-law, AND my brother-in-law, all under one roof, for at least 72 hours.

This has required more than a little finesse to pull off.

After the first few times we hosted Christmas for everyone, I realized I had to make a few changes so that I, too, could enjoy the day!

So whether you’re spending a quiet Christmas at home with just your nuclear family, or hosting a crowd of far-flung travelers, these hacks will save your Christmas morning – and your sanity.

Expert Hacks for your Smoothest Christmas Morning EVER

  1. Clear the decks

Imagine you’re planning a big family trip, or a huge event where you work or volunteer. Do you deliberately try to cram every possible thing into the month before the trip or event? Or do you try to carve out some extra time, so you’ll be able to complete the necessary preparations?

December is full of tempting options to pack our calendars with extra celebrations, activities, and commitments. But as I’ve learned the hard way, cramming in piles of extra commitments does NOT mesh well with prepping for the Big Day.

So try not to overcommit yourself. Be picky about what you add to your December calendar. And try to edit things OUT of your schedule, to leave extra time for holiday preparations and memory-making. If all your weekends get eaten up with outings, excursions, and extra kid activities, when will you have the time to get ready for Christmas morning?

keep the calendar empty

  1. Shop year-round when possible

One year in my 20s, I needed to schedule major surgery for Dec. 2. I knew that recovering from the surgery would leave me housebound, in pain, and unable to do much of anything for at least a month.

Because of this, I had to have all my Christmas presents bought AND WRAPPED before Thanksgiving that year. What seemed like Mission: Impossible became the greatest gift-to-myself ever. It felt SO liberating to have my shopping done well ahead of time!

buy & wrap Christmas gifts early

Ever since then, I’ve shopped for Christmas gifts year-round. I love doing this for several reasons:

  • It’s more budget-friendly than racking up huge year-end credit card bills.
  • I can get special gifts for special people in my travels throughout the year – e.g., a locally-handcrafted necklace or handmade book.
  • Some things, like season-specific items, I can buy when they’re on sale – like new summer gear or fancy clothes for the girls, one size up, during end-of-season clearance sales.
  • Other times, I buy things when the opportunity presents itself. For example, I bought my niece $50 worth of board books for her first Christmas, at my favorite children’s resale event this past fall. Even though they were brand-new, I got them for under $10 books for my niece
  1. Plan, Plan, Plan

For Christmas morning to flow like clockwork, you should plan three things:

Your Timetable: It may sound silly, but figuring out your Christmas timetable beforehand is critical, especially with a houseful of guests.

Writing down a timetable will help you stay on track, and get the turkey or ham in the oven on time. If Christmas Day or Christmas Eve church services are part of your tradition, it will also ensure you allow enough time for getting dressed, piling in the car, and other basics that always take longer with extra people involved.

Your Menu: Even if you don’t do this year-round, menu-planning is essential when you have a houseful of company. Or a holiday that you don’t want to spend stuck in the kitchen. Or both.

Besides saving you time and money, menu-planning will help you avoid last-minute trips to the store – the last place you’ll want to be on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning!

Your Preparations: Big events like Christmas take advance work to run smoothly. Clearing the decks (see #1 above) will leave room in your schedule to prep beforehand, so Christmas morning doesn’t sneak up on you.

I absorbed this lesson in childhood from Great-Aunt Nancy. I love that woman to death, but I learned early that other grownups could predict her like clockwork:

  • If she was hosting Christmas, she would disappear upstairs as soon as we arrived, to finish wrapping her gifts.
  • If someone else was hosting, she would arrive at least two hours later than everyone else, for the exact same reason.

Present-buying and present-wrapping take time. So do decorating, cooking, and cleaning. And planning time to do them (the earlier, the better) means less chaos for you in the days closer to Christmas, and especially on Christmas morning itself.

  1. Keep It Simple

While we’re on the subject of planning: Don’t go overboard the first time you have Christmas at home, or host your extended family for the holidays.

decking the tree

New house you’ve never decorated for the holidays before? There’s no need to purchase every decoration you’ll ever need in that first year.

Never hosted Christmas dinner before? Rather than planning an entire meal’s worth of fancy new recipes, start with basic favorites, then add maybe ONE new dish at most.

No, you may not accomplish everything on your Ideal Christmas Checklist the first time around. But will your infants and toddlers really care that you didn’t get the outside lights strung up for their first Christmas in their new home? Keep things simple (especially if you’re a new parent!), and cut yourself some slack.

keeping decorations simple

  1. Sharing is best

Likewise, there’s no shame or weakness in asking guests to help with the preparations, Especially if they’re driving in from out-of-town.

Whenever we host Christmas, my mother-in-law brings her famous apple pie for Christmas dessert, and my own mama brings a loaf of her family’s special Christmas bread with candied fruits.

my MIL's famous apple pie-1

It doesn’t matter whether it’s your great-grandma’s Christmas bread recipe, the favorite pie from your hubby’s childhood­, or the adult beverages for the holiday meal. Having guests bring something that is appropriate and meaningful for them will make your life easier, ensure they have something they enjoy on the table, and enrich everyone’s Christmas experience.

my mama cooking her famous Christmas eggs

  1. Get cooking

Planning your menu in advance also lets you prep food ahead of time.

My dear husband loves to cook, and he’s definitely the gourmand/chef extraordinaire in our marriage. So the first time we hosted everyone for Christmas dinner, he insisted on cooking the entire meal, all by himself.

The meal WAS delicious. But he was stuck in the kitchen from noon until 9pm, three hours after our planned dinnertime.

That experience taught him to set aside time in the days before Christmas for food prep, so he could enjoy the day with us. Since then, he’s also been happy to let me make some side dishes in advance.

Likewise, before our holiday guests arrive, I take my meal plan for the whole week we’ll have houseguests (see #3 above) and cook as many things ahead as I can. Warming already-made soups, quiches, and lasagnas in the days around Christmas leaves room for last-minute things, as well as for enjoying our extended family.

Christmas dinner with made-ahead items

  1. Get everyone on the same page

Remember those plans you laid out in step #3? Plans won’t work if you’re the only one who knows them. Communicating your plans to others lets everyone know what to expect.

In my family of origin, Christmas morning starts with opening stockings over a special breakfast. Because this is not how my husband grew up, my in-laws won’t get to see their granddaughters open their stockings if I don’t tell them what time breakfast is served.

Likewise, Christmas itself can be tense when extended families include people of faith as well as those for whom Christmas is a secular holiday. If you expect family members who don’t usually attend church to go on Christmas (or, in my family, Christmas Eve), you need to tell them this well in advance, so they can plan accordingly. (In our case, I also sweeten the pot by mentioning to my husband’s family how they’ll get to see our girls sing during the service, so they know they have something to look forward to!)

  1. Include flex time

Whether you call it “wiggle room” or (as Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom calls it) “margin,” including flex time in your holiday schedule is essential, especially if not everyone remembers to follow step #7.

One year during my childhood, my father used scraps of wood to build me a “dollhouse” – a small shed in which I could play house and have sleepovers.

He assembled the dollhouse in the barn. Then, around noon on December 24th, he asked my mama to take his elderly mother (our houseguest), my brother, and me on an afternoon-long outing. And not to return until after dark, so he could get the dollhouse into the front yard.

Having been without power for much of December the year before, thanks to a massive storm, my mama had already learned NOT to leave all the baking, shopping, and wrapping until the last minute. So although it wasn’t her first choice of how to spend the afternoon, her schedule had enough wiggle room to accommodate this request with grace.

  1. Pack some protein into breakfast

When I was brainstorming ideas for this post, I asked my own mama for suggestions. Without batting an eyelash, she said, “Make sure that Christmas breakfast includes protein.” When I thought about it, I realized how spot-on this advice is.

My late father was an old-fashioned country doctor. The kind who made house calls, and who often had hospital rounds to complete or emergencies to attend on Christmas morning. So on Christmas my brother and I opened our stockings early, but saved the presents under the tree until Daddy was there.

Opening our stockings went hand-in-hand with a hearty breakfast that included eggs and sausage – rarities in our everyday diet, since my father was also a heart-attack survivor.

These special Christmas morning “treats” kept us full until Christmas dinner in the early afternoon. And kept our moods and blood sugar stable. Especially important when you have little kids who desperately want to open their presents, but have to wait until Daddy gets back from the hospital.

So even if a large, protein-laden breakfast isn’t your daily preference, adding this into your Christmas morning will keep everyone going strong. Your tummies (and your kids’ spirits) will thank you.

Christmas breakfast - sausage eggs candied bread


  1. Keep it real

Finally, gather all those lovely Pinterest-perfect Christmas morning ideas that are dancing in your head like so many sugarplums. Then do one of two things with them:

  • Make sure your plan to accomplish them is realistic and starts weeks ahead of time.
  • Otherwise, toss them out.

Your Christmas morning does NOT have to look like the “perfection” you see on a greeting card, in a magazine, or online. And your family will NOT enjoy themselves if you spend the whole month stressing and moping about your own inability to achieve unrealistically high ideals.

Trust me on this one. Been there, done that, SO not worth it.

There’s no point beating yourself up (and making your family miserable) if your house, your plans, or your Christmas morning don’t achieve someone else’s unrealistically high standards.

Build your own traditions, based on what makes sense for you and your kids. Focus on YOUR family, YOUR schedule/budget, and what is realistic for YOU to accomplish, and you’ll all be much happier.

What is YOUR top tip for ensuring that Christmas morning runs smoothly? Let us know in the comments!


Flossie McCowald bio picFlossie McCowald was a teacher before becoming mama to Kimmie (now 7) and Essie (now 5). A country girl who married a city boy, she and her family now live in Suburbia, U.S.A. When not schlepping her girls to Scouts, Code Club, swim lessons, or church choir, she enjoys bicycling, cooking, crocheting, and volunteering. She shares all her parenting mistakes, screw-ups, and things she learned the hard way her parenting tips, tricks, and hacks to save busy parents time, money, and sanity at

Expert Hacks for your Smoothest Christmas Morning EVER-2

Blogmas, Christmas, Kids

Christmas Crafts with the Kids

Welcome to Blogmas 2017! I am so excited to have Monica here from sharing craft ideas we can do with the kids with us! I always need new craft ideas to do with the kids! Will definitely beaming these this year because they are so cute! Visit her at her blog and say, “hi!”

Christmas time has always been my one of my favorite times of the year. Snow, pine tree scent, and Christmas cookies will always make me feel like a child again. But since I’ve become a parent it has only gotten better!

For me, one of my all-time favorite parts of being a parent is seeing the excitement and joy the holidays bring to my children. Birthdays are magical, Easter’s exciting and Christmas it’s just amazing. The only thing that compares to seeing your child’s face as you explain that Santa is Coming to Town. Is watching a sleepy version of that face see their presents for the first time early Christmas morning. Each year as the children grow older it gets more and more exciting and all around more fun.

Each year I try and do something to get the kids in the Christmas spirit (although that isn’t very hard these days!) This year I decided to spread the holiday spirit by doing a couple crafts that the kids and I could do together. We chose two popsicle stick ornaments. Mostly because we saw the cutest popsicle stick Christmas trees on Pinterest and thought it looked fun!

I have to say, I am so glad that we chose the popsicle sticks as our materials. It ended up making the whole crafting project a lot easier. The sticks were very sturdy and held up against my little ones getting a little rough. If you have young children you probably know but they are not always the gentlest of creatures. But even my one-and-a-half-year-old was able to help decorate and we all had a great time.

So we decided to do both Christmas trees and snowflakes for our crafts. We saw a few different popsicle stick trees on Pinterest when we went looking for ideas but we decided you are completely different, and I think they all turned out great. The snowflakes were super easy and turned out to be my daughter’s favorite. Another plus side of doing two popsicle crafts is that we end up needing fewer supplies.

Christmas Trees

What you need:

3 Popsicle Sticks

Green Marker


2 Pipe Cleaners

Snowflake Gems

Hot Glue Gun


The first thing we did was color the popsicle sticks green. We then put a dot of hot glue on the end of the sticks and put them together into a triangle.

Next, we measured out the pipe cleaners and cut them so they would fit across the triangle. Each time getting a little smaller so that it would fit all the way to the top of the triangle.

Once we had all the pieces cut that we needed I put hot glue on either side of the tree and then let my daughter place the pipe cleaner onto the glue. -This part could be a little tricky if your child is young. But my four-year-old was able to just use the end of a pencil to push the pipe cleaner into the glue so that her finger wasn’t touching glue itself-.

Once you have all the pipe cleaners attached you can then add the decorations. We chose the little red and green pom poms, the little snowflake ornaments and a ribbon for the top of the tree. I also added a little piece of string to the back of it with a little hot glue so that we could hang it on the tree when we were finished.


What you need:

3 Popsicle Sticks

1 Pipe Cleaner

Snowflake Gem

Glitter Glue

Hot Glue Gun


Next up is our Snowflake. This one was even easier than the first and just happens to be my favorite. To start we glued the three sticks together in the middle so that they made a snowflake shape.

Next we cut the pipe cleaner into 2 inch pieces and then folded them so that they were in a V shape.

We then glued those V’s near the end of each of the sticks.

From there we placed a few drops of glitter glue and the little snowflake gem for decoration and that was it.

Again I added a little piece of string to the back of it so that we can hang it up on the tree when we were finished.

Both of these crafts her so fun I’m easy! I was a little surprised that they both worked out as well as they did because crafting with kids means anything can go wrong. But all in all, they turned out great and we will be hanging them as soon as our tree is up. If you are looking for a fun easy (and cheap) Christmas craft to do with your children, I would highly recommend one of these!

Thanks for reading!- Monica


My name is Monica and I am the blogger behind Monica In Mommyland. I have two small children that keep me on my toes! I work from home as a blogger and freelance writer and I love what I do. My blog is a place for busy moms to find fun and creative ideas to help make motherhood a little easier.

Blogmas, Christmas, Holidays

Have a Healthy and Happy Holiday Season

Welcome to Blogmas 2017! Rheagan from Where the Wild Rose Grows is joining us today! Be sure to go visit her for more great tips and advice! 


Health means different things to different people and can cover so many different facets. During the busy, often disruptive, holiday season, various aspects of our health can become neglected.

To help you stay on top of your health this holiday season, I’ve compiled my top seven tips for having a healthy holiday season!

1. Try to keep to your regular routine as much as possible.

Maybe you go to the gym for an hour every morning, but during the holiday season you might not have time for such a commitment? Getting up at your regular time and doing something to get the blood pumping will help keep your body on track. Maintaining a routine as much as possible helps you sleep better, eat better, and reduces stress, plus it will help keep everyone in the groove of normal life so it’s not such a shock to the system when holidays draw to a close, especially for the kids who have had a nice long break from classes.

2. Get adequate and quality sleep.

Protecting our circadian rhythm is hard enough in our modern lives, never mind adding the holidays on top of it. Wherever you happen to find yourself, try to prioritize quality sleep. This will help support your immune system and make you more resistant to all those cold and flu bugs floating around this time of year. Not only does good sleep help us look and feel better in the short term, it has positive, long-term effects on our heart health, mental health, weight, and more!


3. Include whole foods in your diet wherever you can.

Of course no one is going to be perfect, but making better choices where you are able will benefit your health in the long run. Whole foods are higher in nutrients than their pre-packaged and processed counterparts, as well as higher in fiber and healthy fats. Additionally, the nutrients found in whole foods are in their ideal ratios and synergistic combinations to further benefit our bodies and keep us healthy. Eating healthy during the holidays doesn’t have to be a chore. Preparing and cooking dishes from scratch is not only good for your health, but it can also allow you quality time with loved ones as you bond over preparing Grandma’s pumpkin pie the old-fashioned way or starting new culinary traditions with the next generation.

4. Get outside!

I know it’s chilly this time of year, but responsible sun exposure and fresh air are both very good things for our health. Sun exposure is the catalyst for vitamin D synthetization in the body. Increased vitamin D levels mean better health and a stronger immune system, which will help ensure you enjoy your holiday season illness-free. Vitamin D is also connected to staving off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can affect some of us during the shorter days of winter. Fresh air has many benefits to our health, not least among them helping improve digestion. With all the treats floating around this time of year, our digestion can likely use all the help it can get! It also makes you happier, so bundle up, get outside, and have an even happier holiday.

Playing in the snow

5. Drink enough (of the right kind of stuff!).

Staying hydrated can be a challenge in the winter months, and especially when our regular schedule is disrupted or we are not in our usual surroundings. But drinking enough is important for a variety of reasons that will help us tackle the joys of the holiday season in even better spirits. It helps flush toxins from our system (perhaps after one too many indulgences) and it also helps keep us regular, which can be a challenge for some when travelling or facing a disruption to their regular diet. Drinking enough water also helps prevent and relieve headaches and fatigue and increases energy.

6. Enjoy the socializing.

More and more research is coming out on the health benefits of positive social interaction and support. When else are you (hopefully) going to have more of that than when families are gathered to celebrate together? Positive social interactions have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and strong emotional bonds may help provide important motivation to improve lifestyle factors. Research has also found that social people are less likely to become ill or struggle with depression. Positive social interactions also benefit us by improving sleep and delaying memory loss over time.

7. Embrace good stress, avoid bad stress.

Chronic, unresolved stress can have a very negative impact on our health in a variety of ways, from lowering our immune system to impacting our mental health. But good stress, the kind we face when striving to achieve goals, can do good things for our health. As we look towards the New Year, try to set reasonable, attainable goals for yourself. This will keep you motivated and mentally sharp, and it will also provide you with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you reach them, further motivating you to keep working towards new goals. You want to challenge, not overwhelm, yourself.

That’s it! Those are my top seven tips for having a happy and healthy holiday season. Give them a try and let me know how it goes or share some of your own top healthy holiday tips below!




Rheagan writes from her home in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  She is a paralegal-turned-stay-at-home-mama with a passion for healthy living, and you can find her over at Where the Wild Rose Grows.

Blogmas, Christmas, Holidays, parenting, Uncategorized

Teaching kids to Enjoy Giving, Not Just Recieving

Welcome to Blogmas 2017! Today Katelynne is guest blogging for us from The Disguised Supermom! Visit her at her website and say, “Hi!”

Anyone else find that their kids get an extra case of the “gimmies” this time of year? The list of things they need seems to be endless and it’s no surprise since they are constantly bombarded with images and ideas of things they have to have. It drives me crazy, but it’s not actually their fault. Instead, it’s the culture they’re surrounded by and more importantly, the example we set for them. If we want to raise kids who are just as excited to give than to receive, we need to teach them its importance.

As parents, we are trying to fight against this trend of “me-first” and raise our children to think of others before themselves, to do good in the world and always be on the look-out for ways to help somebody. There are great books to read, movies to watch and conversations to be had around these ideas but the truth is, our children will mirror what they see. Or more accurately, who they see – us, their parents.

I see two ways we can be more intentional about teaching our kids the joy that can come from giving to others, both which fit perfectly with this holiday season.

First, involve them in gift giving within the family. Let them help come up with the list of people that you need to purchase or make gifts for. For us, this includes grandparents, aunts and uncles. The kids also love adding each other and mom and dad to the list. Once you have your list of people, ask them to help you brainstorm ideas. Even if you already know what you’re getting them, give them a chance. I’m always impressed by the thought my kids put into it – even if the actual gift idea seems crazy to me!

If you’re purchasing gifts, consider bringing them with you when you do the shopping. Yes, it will probably take a little longer and may be more stressful but it will be worth it. My kids get so excited to help pick out gifts for others! Make no mistake though, they still need a gentle reminder from time to time to think about who the gift is for instead of themselves – especially if we’re at a toy store!

If you usually make your gifts (or even if you are purchasing gifts yourself), let the kids make their own gifts to give. The gifts can be as simple or elaborate as you want to make them – the age and personalities of your kids will probably determine this. Kids love giving people homemade creations and most people I know also love receiving them.

Kids can also make or decorate the cards, gift bags or wrapping paper.   Last year, I purchase 2 rolls of plain brown packaging paper to wrap our gifts in. Once they were wrapped, the kids got to decorate them with markers, crayons and stickers. You can be sure they were more excited to hand those out than the ones in store bought paper!

The second way to teach your children to think of giving over receiving is through acts of kindness. Last year, we started the tradition of doing as many acts of kindness throughout the month of December as we could. Before the month started, I had a general list of ideas I planned to incorporate but the kids quickly started coming up with their own ideas too. Again, how you implement this depends on the ages of your kids, but it can be done with any ages!

Some of our favorite ideas include:

  • Bring coffee or hot chocolate to the Salvation Army workers outside the supermarket
  • Visit an elderly neighbor who lives alone
  • Donate food to the food pantry
  • Make Christmas cards for a nursing home
  • Leave a treat for the mailman
  • Make thank you cards for the librarians
  • Take supplies to an animal shelter
  • Donate a pair of pajamas to a child in foster care


There are countless other acts of kindness that can be done with very little prep and minimal money. My kids are young (5, 3 and 1) so I try to keep our list do-able for them. I want these activities to be things they can do themselves. For example, when we donated food to the food pantry, we went to the grocery store just for this and the kids each got to pick 5 items to purchase. Last year, I brought them to the aisles with the staples – pastas, canned goods, cleaning supplies – but my oldest insisted on going to the baby aisle. When I asked why, she responded “I want my 5 things to be baby food, babies need to eat too.”

If we give our kids the chance, they will rise to the occasion.

Things are simpler for them –

Someone is hungry, of course we feed them.

Someone is cold, of course we get them a coat.

Some kids won’t get presents this year, of course we should get one for them.

Somewhere along the lines as we grow up, things become more complicated but kids are naturally giving people. It’s our job as parents to nurture that instinct by giving them a strong example to follow.



Katelynne is married to her high school sweetheart and is a stay at home mom raising three little ones (ages 5, 3 and 1) in Connecticut. You can find her running around with the kids, homeschooling, chasing chickens in the backyard or curled up with a good book and strong cup of coffee. She blogs at about how mamas can simplify life at home and how to incorporate literature into your everyday living and learning.

Blogmas, Christmas, Holidays, Marriage, relationship skills

Date Night in December

Welcome to Blogmas 2017! We are so excited to have Trendy2Teens with us today! Giving us tips on Great Dates this December! Check out their website

Date Night in December

(For you & your spouse)


Ladies & Gents, welcome to your date guide for the 12 days of Christmas, how excited are you that Christmas is almost here? The best part is when you get to spend it with your lover. This is my favorite time of the year so, I’m ready to deck the halls and start sleighing all the way 😉 Being happy this holiday season is a must so here are your 12 days of Christmas Date Ideas. Be prepared to read the word Christmas a lot!

  • Christmas Movies!!! You and your lover can get matching PJ’s, socks and cozy uptogether for a night on the couch, while eating Christmas cookies and drinking hot chocolate! Obviously the best because it’s Christmas! How awesome is it to have this perfect moment while watching a movie?? If you don’t know what movies to watch, check out my favorites here:
  • Light Show!!! Find a local light show/tree lighting around town, get in the car and go! The best way to have fun is to pack some Christmas cookies and play some Christmas music! While going through the track of lights, just to spice it up, every time you see Santa Claus… KISS!
  • Make Christmas Cards… the best time to be creative and know who the real crafty one is 😉 and to be even more romantic go give your cards to the local homeless shelter! All different colored cards with glitter, glue, and fun items will make them have more meaning!
  • Create Gingerbread Houses!!! Contest? Who can make the best one? Couple vs couple? Go buy the box with the house & get extra decorations and icing so yours can be the best! Bonding time=the best time.
  • Go Ice-Skating!!! The one who falls first has to kiss the other 🙂 This is a fun experience and a funny experience all in one!
  • Go see a Christmas show!!! There are so many churches, dance studios, and even theaters that are doing shows that revolve around Christmas. Support your community and go see one!
  • Play in the snow!!! No matter how old you are, the snow is AMAZING. 13, 23, 33, 43, or even 53. Go outside with your spouse and throw a snowball at them! Have some sparkle, jolly, twinkle fun! When you find out who wins the snowball fight, build a snowman! After your hands are frozen, go for a walk and then go cozy up by the fireplace and drink some hot chocolate!
  • Have a Christmas photo shoot!!! It could be in front of the tree or under the mistletoe! Snap a few photos of each other and together.
  • Go Holiday Shopping!!! Did you get that last minute gift for your sibling? Your mom? Grandma? Your spouse could probably help you out! Bring them along and pick it out together. Then later on, wrap the presents together!
  • Bake Christmas Cookies!!! Santa isn’t the only one that loves cookies! Turn up the Christmas tunes & dance around the kitchen while making cookies. This could even turn into a dance off or a food fight (those are the best).
  • Attend a Holiday Party!!! Get dressed up and go out on the town. With you two looking spiffy, Santa is bound to bring you two gifts 🙂 you two can go celebrate being a couple!
  • Have a game night!!! Pull out those board games and turn on some Christmas music. (Christmas music is a must for all of these) and see who can win the game!

Thank you guys for reading, hope this helped and come let us know how your 12 days of Christmas went!


Trendy2Teens consists of two teenage girls, Kaitlyn and Sara, who love fashion, beauty, fitness and travel!

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Date Night in December



Blogmas, Christmas, Holidays

Bringing Christ into Christmas

Welcome to Blogmas 2017! We are so excited to have Jennifer Wise from and joining us today! Go visit her websites because she is amazing!

I am a confessed Christmas addict. Last year on the day before Halloween, I noticed the maintenance crew hired by our Homeowner’s Association putting up Christmas lights on the trees at the entrance to our subdivision. I’m sure they do it so early because the weather is still good, but yes, the day before Halloween. I drove by, saw what they were doing, and I squealed. I actually squealed. And then I realized, “Oh my gosh. I’m THAT person.”

While Christmas is a beloved holiday and tradition for many, with lots of warm and fuzzy memories, Christmas wasn’t always what it is today. Christmas has gone through a lot of changes over the years. In fact, calls Christmas “both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon.”

Really? How did the birth of Jesus Christ turn into a cultural and commercial phenomenon? If you find yourself wondering the same thing, and wondering how to bring Christ back into Christmas, you’ve come to the right place.

Before I share ideas with you on making Christmas a Christ-centered celebration, though, I want to mention something very important: I’m not talking about adding anything to what you’re already doing. Chances are, you’re already crazy busy during December. The ideas I will share can change what you already do. They can simplify or replace what you already do. They aren’t meant to add more for you to do.

Don’t get stressed out.

Being the Christmas addict I am, I went to a Christmas class several years ago given by my church women’s group. Because: Christmas. *squeal* The first activity was about time.

The speaker gave us worksheets and asked us to write down everything we do on a daily basis. (You might actually want to do this right now if you are overwhelmed, busy, or stressed at Christmastime.)   She asked us to write down our regular routines–grocery shopping, laundry, taking care of kids, paying bills. Then she asked us to write down the other things that come up periodically that we have to squeeze into our regular routines–sick kids, a friend needing help, dishwasher breaking.

Then she dropped the bomb. She asked us how much free time we had left. (“None,” of course!) Then she asked what we’d like to do for ourselves, our families, and neighbors/community for Christmas– bake cookies for the school choir performance, make gifts for neighbors, go Christmas shopping, make gingerbread houses, decorate the house, decorate the tree, etc. She asked where and how we were going to squeeze those things into our already-tight schedules.

It was then that I decided what I would keep in my Christmas routine and what I would get rid of. Christmas is supposed to be joyful.

Here’s My Trick

After this class, I actually created a 2-month plan so that I could do as much as possible in October and November. What is worth keeping, what can be substituted or simplified, and what can I do without? I started making gingerbread houses in October and putting them (disassembled) in the freezer. I found neighbor gifts that I could make ahead of time like soups in a jar or non-food gifts I could buy months ahead of time. I wrote Christmas cards here and there over the course of several weeks in November. I substituted things that required a lot of work on my part for simpler things. (Refrigerated cinnamon rolls are still cinnamon rolls.) Our advent calendar went from activity-based (“make and decorate cookies today”) to a simple scripture to read each night as a family.

Consider your must-haves for Christmas, and then re-evaluate the rest. Make an actual plan –set aside time on your calendar– to do what is most important to you at Christmastime so you don’t get overloaded. Do as much as you can early.

Then, to bring Christ into your Christmas, ask yourself two questions:

#1 What’s Our Environment?

What’s around you? What kind of Christmas decor does your family see around the house every day that helps them know Christmas is a Christ-centered celebration? What may be distracting them? Or you?

#2 What’s My Focus?

What’s YOUR focus at Christmastime? Not your kids’ focus– yours. Your focus rubs off on them. They see and do whatever you are focused on. If Elf on the Shelf (more commonly called “The Damn Elf on the Shelf”, near as I can tell) is your primary focus, it will be theirs. If being good so Santa brings them presents they’ve earned through their behavior is your focus, it will be theirs. There are a million fun, adorable, blog-post-worthy things you can do with or for your family. Not all of it is worth your time, and not all of it is worth your focus. Choose what is most important to you, what will bring Christ into Christmas, and don’t worry about the rest.