Archive for the ‘christmas’ Category

christmas and new years

This was meant to be two posts, but well then the polar vortex swooped down and cancelled school and any other plans I had.

christmas letter to myself

Do you have all your Christmas stuff packed up already? If so (or even if not so) I have one more thing for you to put in those boxes: a letter to yourself. I stole this idea from my sister years ago. She would write a little note to herself about whose turn it was to put the angel on the tree, what things should be done early, and what things not to do at all. My twenty year old self laughed at her I’m sure, but my 35 year old self is totally in need of this.

chrismas-letter-to-me download Usually I write a quick note on the back of a ripped up envelope. This year I thought I’d get a little fancier. Click here to download this Christmas letter to yourself. Print it, fill it out, and slip it into one of those giant boxes in your basement. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did.

monthly goals printable on elsie marley

The let’s do better, get fitter, eat well energy in the air every January is amazing.  I love getting swept up in it. But I’ll be honest, resolutions where I have to change what I do every day are too hard. I forget, feel bad, and I’m back where I started. Something I have to do once a month, though, those are goals I can get behind.

printable monthly goals on elsie marley I made up this handy little monthly goal chart that you can hang up on your fridge or slap in your journal. Click here to download the Monthly Goals chart. I already started filling mine out and I may need to print another. I might also need to stop making new goals, because those cookies are starting to look attractive and I only have a finite amount of will power.

advent activities: week three

advent activities on elsie marley

I probably won’t be back until after the holidays. I may pop in next Friday with our last (half) week of activities, even if it’s only so I can remember what we did :) I hope all of your last minute scrambling isn’t making you crazy. Even if everything doesn’t get crossed off your massive to do list, do have a wonderful holiday!

advent activities: week three

DAY 13: watch Polar Express

Friday is our movie night, but this one turned out to be a little too scary for the younger ones. It ended up being just my daughter and me snuggled on the couch watching a movie. We both cried, of course.

advent activities on elsie marley

DAY 14: drink egg nog.

It was a busy run around kind of day and we needed to sneak an advent activity in quick.

caramels on elsie marley

DAY 15: wrap caramels

Every year I make caramels for christmas presents. Making them is the easy part. Wrapping 400 caramels is the hard part. Thankfully my family doesn’t mind helping. Actually, my daughter says wrapping caramels is her favorite part of christmas! This year I decided to make it even harder by putting a bit of washi tape on each caramel.  I also made a handy dandy key, so everyone can decode the flavors before they rip into the caramels.

marshmallows on elsie marley

DAY 16: make marshmallows

This sounds super ambitious, but it’s actually super easy and surprisingly fast. We made this recipe + peppermint extract + fancy swirls. We made it two times and ended up with about 250 marshmallows. Somehow just enough for all three of my kids’ classes. 5 for each classmate, packed up a pretty bag:

marshmallows on elsie marley

Not a bad gift if I do say so myself. And wow! homemade marshmallows are delicious!

advent activities on elsie marley

DAY 17: sledding!

It started out well enough: beautiful day! fluffy snow! not too cold! But it ended with one kid slamming head first into a metal box, one getting whacked in the face with a flying sled, and last but not least one rather epic bloody nose. Oh well, we’ll live to sled another day.

advent activities on elsie marley

DAY 18: coloring these cheapie wooden christmasy things I seem to get every year. 

We need something safe and quiet after our sledding fiasco. I pick up these coloring do-dads every year as an emergency advent activity. Now it seems they’ve become a tradition.

advent activities on elsie marley

DAY 19: crack nuts

The advent calendar may as well have said “vacuum.” Still there is something old fashioned and christmassy about cracking nuts. I’m happy to say the kids loved it as much as I do.

I hope you all have a lovely holiday, or at the very least a nap on the couch! Merry Christmas!



advent activities: week two

advent activities on elsie marley

I loved all of your advent activity suggestions on last week’s post. Thank you! Keep em coming. We are only halfway through advent. If you say it that way it feels like it’s a long time before Christmas :)


advent activities: week two

DAY 6: watch a Christmas Carol.

Friday is our movie night, so we watched an animated version of this Christmas classic.

DAY 7: go see the Christmas trains.

Does every city have this? Our Christmas train exhibit is in our local botanical garden. My husband took the kids, so I don’t have any pictures, but I hear the Christmas village was completely made out of candy!

paper snowflakes out of coffee filters

DAY 8: make paper snowflakes

We make our paper snowflakes out of coffee filters. They are easier for little hands (and scissors) to cut. To make a coffee filter snowflake, first flatten the coffee filter, fold it in half, then in thirds, then in half again. Cut little triangles all over, or get fancy and look up patterns on Pinterest. I iron the snowflakes after we’re done making them. It sounds fussy, but they look so much nicer.  Then we fill up all our windows with snowflakes!

gumdrop sculptures on elsie marley

DAY 9: gumdrop sculptures

We did this last year and it was a bit hit. You have to brace yourself for the insane sugar high (and subsequent crash), but it is a lot of fun. There is a swing set in there somewhere and a dog and a booby trap. If you make gumdrop sculptures, be sure to look for short toothpicks. We had longer ones for some reason, and the sculptures were not very sturdy.

advent activities on elsie marley

DAY 10: listen to Christmas records

Nothing better than listening to Bing Crosby sing I’ll be Home for Christmas.

ice wreaths on elsie marley

DAY 11: make ice wreaths

The upside to living with sub-zero temperatures: ice wreaths. If you too live in painfully cold conditions, you can make this beautiful holiday decoration. Bundt pans work the best, but you can use any round cake pan. To make the hole in the middle weight an empty tin can down with rocks (or water). Don’t use glass! Ask me how I know.

advent activities on elsie marley

DAY 12: dress up and go to the Christmas concert

We had two kids in the Christmas concert this year and my son even had a solo! All of us got our best clothes on and trudged through the cold and snow to hear adorable little kids sing adorable little songs.

Whew! That was our week in advent activities! Have you done anything Christmasy lately?


advent activities: week one

advent activities: week one

Every year we have an advent calendar–this string of lights advent calendar (that you could make too). Each day is filled with some sort of christmas-y activity. It’s super fun–for the kids–but it also can be a lot of work–for the mom. I was about to skip it this year and just get the chocolate advent calendars when my littlest said in the most adorable voice, “Remember that funny thing that had papers in it and told us what to do? That was the best.” Up went the advent calendar.

Do you do an advent activity calendar? If you have any good christmasy projects, please leave them in the comments! I’m always looking for new things to do. Here are our activities for the first week of advent.

advent activities: week one

DAY 1: go to the movies.

Okay, we took it easy the first day. Plus our kids wanted to see Frozen and it was a good day for a movie.

advent activities on elsie marley

DAY 2: print out paper toys and make your mother glue them together

advent activities on elsie marley

That’s not actually what it said to do, but that is what it turned into. This paper Santa was a lot harder than I anticipated and it seems paper craft is not my forte. They are so stinking cute though, it’s hard not to want to make them. I found these printable paper toys on pinterest, where else? After all the fussy cutting and folding and gluing, I really like these little guys and they are surprisingly sturdy.

advent activities on elsie marley

DAY 3: take christmas photo

Taking the annual christmas photo is my annual christmas nightmare. There were at least a hundred shots like the one above and then Hallelujah! one decent one.

advent activities on elsie marley

DAY 4: decorate the tree

I like em naked, maybe with a few lights. The kids have a much different idea of a christmas tree. More! More! More!

advent activities on elsie marley

DAY 5: put shoes out for St. Nick

The shoes were left out last night and the kids woke up to oranges and chocolate coins and new slippers. Advent is more work, but it is magical too. Now what to do for day 6….


the gift everyone needs, but doesn’t know it yet

rainbow maker

I am not big on Christmas shopping. Don’t get me wrong I love me some Christmas, but I try to avoid the shopping bit. The stores are crowded and claustrophobic, the people are all crabby and wanty, and no one ends up liking what you bought them anyway. For Christmas I usually make cookies and candy for everyone on my list, but every once in a while I want to give someone something that lasts.

solar powered rainbow maker

Enter the perfect present: the solar-powered rainbow maker. The mobile makers did not contact me for this post, they do not sponsor my blog, they don’t even know I exist. I just think that everyone needs a rainbow maker in their life. Your sister, your friends who just had a baby, your kid’s teachers, your mail carrier,  your crabby grandpa, they all need more rainbows in their life. They might not know it yet, but they do.

rainbow maker

We received the double rainbow maker as a gift years ago.  You can hang the mobile up with a wire or stick it to a window with the suction cup. We stuck ours to a sunny window and the room exploded with rainbows. I couldn’t believe how magical it was–for my kids and me.  Not so magical when I slammed it over and over again trying to get the window open, but we got another. Then someone very sneaky stole the crystal and hid it (forever). Not only will we be giving rainbow makers this Christmas, we’ll be getting one for ourselves too.

though this post is not sponsored by the mobile maker, there are affiliate links (to amazon) in this post.