Christmas Joy Completion

christmas ornaments

Our last half of December was filled with traditions and treats and parties and poinsettias. How are your Days of Joy going? Have you done anything that left footprints on your heart and an eternal impression in your child’s memory?

This December, I hope you not only spread joy and kindness in your community, but that you took some deep breaths and mental photographs as you witnessed the innocence and beauty in your children unfold through this magical holiday season. The days may be long, but the years (especially the “believing” years) are far too short. Stress is bound to creep in now and again (like when you’re putting together a dreaded gingerbread house), but remember the reason for the season. Giving. Spreading Joy. Making Magic. And Believing. Always, Believing.

A quick recap of our last half of December:

Day 13: Attend neighborhood “Drink the Tree” party

drink the tree party

Two years ago, I had the same question: What in the world is a “Drink the Tree” party? Well, folks, no play on words here. It’s exactly as it sounds. Our neighbors spend hours (and many dollars) purchasing and hanging small bottles of liquor to a full-size Christmas tree. The job of the guests? Make them all go away before the party is over. The hosts were wonderful, the drinks were plenty, and the morning after? Ummmmm…moving on…

Day 14: Winterland Storytime at kiddywampus 


As many of you might know, kiddywampus lands in my list of favorite kid-friendly ventures (read my post about them here), so I couldn’t resist their Winter Wonderland storytime and art project event, co-hosted with Macaroni Kid. The price of admission was a waterproof pair of gloves for the Hats & Mittens organization, so we bought two nice pair at Target and went to our favorite toy store for some cute winter stories and an hour of art. My kids adore arts and crafts, so creating Christmas cards was right in their wheelhouse. We were the first ones to arrive and the last ones to leave…and we got some Christmas shopping done as well.

Day 15: Go on traditional Christmas lights tour

christmas lights

This is one of my favorite holiday traditions with the kiddos! My husband is a junk-foodaholic, so we always pile into the car (dog and all) with blankets and pillows and jammies, and make a pitstop at a gas station to allow the kids the snack of their choosing. This year, it was Skittles and BBQ potato chips. It’s one night I just throw my hands up and let Nate be a kid too! This year, we toured the musical light shows in the Plymouth/Wayzata area and found a couple doozies, but a couple definitely worth mentioning: Dirknerkle’s Lights and PD Shimmers (both in Plymouth). Thanks to Family Fun Twin Cities for their wonderful list of musical light shows.

Day 16:Make Christmas M&M pretzels

M&M pretzels

Another holiday tradition enjoyed by the sweet-tooths in my family. Circle pretzels, a Hershey Hug, a 200° oven, 4 minutes and an M&M. That’s all it takes to create this ridiculously-addictive and crazy-unhealthy Christmas snack. But on the plus side, it’s so easy, your kids will love it and they make for wonderful treat gifts for the teachers, neighbors and mailpeople in your life.

Day 17: Company Ugly Sweater party and Home Alone movie night

christmas joy

After four years of my company hosting its Ugly Christmas Sweater party, I was finally victorious! It’s truly amazing what one can create with a plain $3 red sweater, a plush Santa doorhanger, suspenders with built-in shot glasses and velvet boxers adorned with bells. U-G-L-Y. You ain’t got no alibi. It was ugly, yes, but the nutcracker trophy will proudly sit on my desk for the next 365 days! That night at home, my niece and kids settled in for their first-ever viewing of my all-time favorite Christmas movie: Home Alone. Listening to their giggles as the robbers react to nails and irons and blow torches to the head was pure magic. OK, when I say it like that, it really sounds bad, but in our defense, we coughed loudly every time there was a swear word.

Day 18: Make homemade ornament gifts 

christmas ornaments

Oh, Pinterest. I have failed you once again. Ninja Turtle ornaments with mod podge and tissue paper…seems so simple. But, I did manage to create one covered in pages from a Stephen King novel for my bookworm sister-in-law. Take that, Pinterest! If you want to try to tackle the TMNT ornaments, here are some instructions. And good luck. You’re gonna need it.

Day 19: The Fever 

As predicted, we encountered an Operation Joy roadblock….a sick kid. The 12-hour fever came and went, but we embraced the situation by watching Frosty the Snowman on repeat. And repeat. And repeat again.

Day 20: Donate coats to Operation Warm at Minneapolis Fire Department

fire department

Our kids are blessed with warm shelter and clothing but there are many children who are not so fortunate. I heard about Operation Warm through conversation with a firefighter and wanted to give to his cause. Rather than donating money (which is possible online), we purchased some kids’ coats and delivered them to the Minneapolis Fire Station late one night. I’ve found it’s always easier to explain the idea of giving to children when it involves something tangible.

Day 21: Bake holiday cookies with family

christmas cookies

This crazy family tradition never gets old. I hope each of you has something you do every year that is as silly and smile-filled as our Annual Cookie-Baking Day. Frosting and dousing sugar cookies in every kind of candy imaginable makes them nearly inedible, but the memories we are making for our kids can’t be measured in calories. Plus, we start drinking wine at 10am and giggle as Great Grandma designs her annual inappropriate gingerbread man cookie. She’s innovative – I’ll give her that!

Day 22: Make gingerbread house and deliver cards to the senior living home

christmas joy

You guys, WHY do I even attempt gingerbread houses anymore? Every year the roof falls off, the kids get upset, Nate and I argue…it’s like self-inflicted punishment on repeat. But this year, after we propped up the rooftop with cans of cream of chicken soup, I threw my hands in the air and just said, “GO!” And they did. And it was beautiful. And then they licked it and the next day, I threw it in the garbage.

That same night, the kids and I delivered poinsettias and hand-written Christmas cards to the senior living community down the street. The recipients were gracious and appreciative and blown away by the cuteness of my little people. We handed out cards that read “Have fun” and “We love snow” and “Santa loves you” and they gave away a couple hesitant hugs. I know this task didn’t make my children overly comfortable, but it filled so many others with joy.

Day 23: Santa comes to our house!

christmas morning

Because we celebrate with both extended families in Wisconsin, Santa makes an early stop at our house before we leave town. Isn’t he the greatest? Both kids laid in the bottom bunk with me at 6:30am (after a rough night of musical beds) asking the questions on everyone’s mind…Did he come? Were we nice? Did he eat the cookies? Did the reindeer enjoy the carrots? Yes! YES to all of the above. After seeing the video below, my friend said it best: “All the stress, all the late nights – so worth it for a reaction like that.”

Disclaimer: I received product from KIND Snack Company in exchange for my time sharing this giveaway as a thank you for Kindness in Chalk. All thoughts are my own.

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  • Brenna johnson
    12/23/2014 at 6:04 pm

    I admit. I lost some of my holiday spirit this year. I was thankful that I was in a job that I didn’t have to work weekends, or the day after Thanksgiving (or Thanksgiving for that matter), but I was expecting this big AHA feeling now that retail wasn’t a part of my everyday life. Then I realized that it was about Big moments, but little ones that reminded me of the beauty of the season. My Sophie so excited to buy presents for her brothers. My Soren making world famous popcorn while we watched Elf. My Dane down with pneumonia thanking me for taking care of him. My Liam going shopping on his own, with his own money and picking the perfect gift for each personality. This was a big one, since he had a tough year, and I honestly wasn’t sure he would get back to a good place. I have learned a lot from my babies and I feel so thankful they have shown me the reason for the season.

  • Jaclyn Reynolds
    12/23/2014 at 8:32 pm

    Seeing my 2 year old excited this year. He can count down the days now and knows what is going on. It’s been fun watching him sing carols and watch holiday movies.

  • Chelsey
    12/23/2014 at 9:50 pm

    I live 600 miles from my parents. This Christmas it is a joy to be home with them and able to celebrate this special time with them!

  • Calli
    12/24/2014 at 5:06 pm

    My work adopted a family this year instead of giving each other presents. The family had 3 children, and it was also the little girl’s birthday, so we got her a cake and extra presents. The children had such joy on their faces as Santa brought out present after present from his bag, when the parents had thought there wouldn’t be anything this year, A lot of my coworkers had pitched in to help by donating, getting and wrapping the gifts, playing Santa and elves, so it was just so great to work together to do something nice.

  • Michelle johnson
    12/26/2014 at 8:41 am

    When my 2 year old enjoyed giving presents as much as getting. Proud mama.

  • Shelly
    12/26/2014 at 8:31 pm

    Our tradition is making homemade gifts. This year we made for Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, an aunt, a cousin, and a best friend. This year was extra neat, because kids on their own devices (at age 5 and 7), made me surprise gifts. The efforts were mostly not Pinterest worthy, but oh the love and joy that went into the making was truly special.

  • christina
    12/27/2014 at 12:34 pm

    I enjoyed seeing my kids learn to express gratitude for gifts they received, even when it wasn’t something they really wanted.

  • Chris
    12/27/2014 at 2:29 pm

    My kids finally said thank you for gifts because they recognized the time and thought that people put into them, not necessarily for what the gifts were.

    12/27/2014 at 8:32 pm

    My son was so excited to get his gifts, but was diligent about thanking everybody and telling them how much he liked them even though he is only six years old. Everybody enjoyed each other and the time we spent together since we don’t always get together as a whole family that often.

  • danielle
    12/28/2014 at 2:01 am

    My husband, two year old, and I volunteered inn our community to help assemble meals for elderly or less fortunate people in our area. It felt so great to know we were helping our neighbors along with getting too know more of them. Tis the season!

  • Randi
    12/28/2014 at 3:30 pm

    my moment of joy this year was hearing the high school choir perform at our office building. We have several students from the special education classes who come to ‘work’ each day delivering our mail. To see these young people enjoying the same holiday songs with us was joyful!!

  • Terry
    12/28/2014 at 7:53 pm

    My inspiration is from our 9 grandkids, who all visited over the holidays. They well-represent the newest generation with their enthusiasm, passion for living, and always “doing the right thing.” The world will be in great shape in their hands.

  • Alice Seuffert
    01/02/2015 at 10:46 pm

    So inspired by all of the great activities you posted about this holiday season. Had to chuckle about the Gingerbread House. We make one every year and it turns into candy chaos! All the best to you in 2015!