Counting Down to Christmas {with your family}

Ideas for counting down to Christmas and start traditions with your family.

As I started writing this, I realized the post was getting a little long.  I decided to break it up into multiple posts.  Look for part two tomorrow.

When my husband and I first got married, I dreaded Christmas.  It wasn't fun anymore.  It made me stressed out.  It made me cry.  It wasn't the same as it had always been.  We tried to find the balance of celebrating with both of our families and making everyone happy - except for us.  Before we had the girls we would rush to get up on Christmas morning, get ready, pack up the car, realize we forgot to exchange presents, quickly hand each other presents, open, and then rush to the car.  Then we would spend time at my parents' house and then drive 4 hours to see my in laws.  Driving on Christmas? Not fun.  We just kept saying it would be different when we had kids.  They would wake up in their own beds and experience the magic of Christmas at our house.  We would start our own traditions.  We would make ourselves happy.  We would love Christmas.  And guess what??  We do!!

Our girls are still really young but Christmas is magical again.  We have fun and we actually want to decorate and get ready for the holidays.  We still see both families but no longer on the same day.  We've accepted that we miss out on things with both of our families but it is worth it for the family time we spend with our girls.  We are still trying to figure out what things we want to make traditions each year and look forward to the girls getting older and being able to participate more.

Ideas for counting down to Christmas and start traditions with your family.

For the past few years, we've counted down to Christmas a few different ways.  Here are a few ideas for you. (sorry about the picture quality - these were the only pictures I had on my computer.)

Advent Books

Ideas for counting down to Christmas and start traditions with your family.

One of the ways we countdown each year is our Advent book tradition.  We love this tradition even though the girls are still a little young to get it.  K gets that we open a book but she doesn't get how many or what happens when we run out of book.  She doesn't even get that it is just one a day.  She asks multiple times a day.  And they don't sit still for the books most nights.  Tonight they were goofing around and trying to climb off of our laps.  One of them was standing on the couch trying to get the dogs attention, one was trying to pull Kleenex out of a box.  Yeah, we are working on it!  But we love doing this and continue to do this tradition every year.  You can read more about that HERE.

25 Days of Christmas

Ideas for counting down to Christmas and start traditions with your family.

I saw this idea floating around Pinterest to make 25 different envelopes for your spouse to countdown to Christmas.  In the envelope could be all different things - date ideas, gifts, love notes, etc.  It seemed fun and when I told my sister about it, she loved it and was going to try it for her husband (who was her boyfriend at the time.)  So I got some Christmas scrapbook paper and pulled out my Christmas related stickers and washi tape.  I made a card and envelope for each day for my husband and one set for my sister to use (she came up with her own ideas for what to do each day and filled out her cards.)

Then I printed out a calendar for the month.  I went through each day and planned something for him.  Each day was different but they fell into a few categories - date idea, love letter, treat, at home date.  I made sure to spread them out so that I wasn't planning 5 dates in a row or scheduling an outing for a day my husband was out of town for work.  I tried to make sure each week had a date idea, an at home date idea, something food related, a compliment and a snack.  I took into account the other things we already had on our calendar for the month.  If we had a Christmas party to go to and I knew we'd be busy, I'd plan a love letter or snack for that day to save time.

Once I planned everything out on my calendar, I wrote up each little card explaining what we were doing that day.  Sometimes it was a cute little poem/clue.  Sometimes I just wrote out what we were doing.  I even went as far as having every thing we would need for that event.  I logged onto our credit card website and ordered gift cards for some of the events I had planned with our bonus points (making our activities practically free, right??)  So if we were going to the movies, I included a movie gift card and scheduled my parents to babysit.  If we were going to the bookstore for a book shopping date, I included a Barnes & Noble gift card.  I even included a $5 bill to pay for the Lightfest we drove through.  Yes, I was organized.  Yes, it took work.  Yes, I only had one kid at that point who was under a year and still taking two great naps a day.  I had more time on my hands than I do now!

I hung everything up in our hallway with ribbon and clothespins (covered in washi tape for the win!) so it was ready for December 1st.  At this point it was all a surprise to my husband who knew nothing about what I'd been working on.  My husband would open an envelope before he went to work each day...well once he got into the routine of it and I reminded him a zillion times.

It definitely took time and organization to put it together but I loved having the whole month planned and showing my husband how much I loved him throughout the month.  I probably over planned because there were some nights we didn't end up doing whatever was planned - either pushing it off to another day or skipping it altogether.  We tried to include our daughter in the events when possible - she came to the bookstore with us, drove through the light show, etc.  The at home date ideas like playing video games or watching a movie we did after she went to bed.  

Here are some of the ideas I used throughout the month:

-Snacks - I got some of my husband's favorites - pop, candy, jerky, etc. and tried to come up with a cute little love phrase related to each one
-Love letters/compliments - just short notes telling my husband how awesome he is
-Dinner of your choice (with instructions to let me know by a certain time so I could go to the store)
-Dessert of your choice
-Lunch date (meet him at work and go to lunch)
-Dinner date
-Movie date
-Book Store Date
-Drive through local light show
-Video game night
-Christmas movie night
-Movie of his choice at home
-Favorite beer waiting for him when he got home
-Favorite Blizzards from Dairy Queen

I think my husband liked it but you know how guys are...very little emotion.  I didn't think he was that into it until he asked me the next December if we were going to do it again...I looked at our 1 1/2 year old and our 1 month old (at the time) and said 'ain't nobody got time for that that this year unless you want to plan it.'  Ha!

I'll be back tomorrow to share what we did last year and what we are trying this year.