December is a wonderful month full of nostalgia, family and events, but it can also be one of the busiest with so many good things that we're supposed to do. Take a deep breath as we enter December, and make a list of things you want to do with your family. What memories do you want to make with your kids?
Here's part of my December Bucket List
1 . Decorate the Christmas Tree
This is the obvious holiday activity, and I do love when the tree is up. The lights from the tree tells me it's Christmas, but boy, do I have to work up the energy to pull out all of the boxes of Christmas decorations and the tree. Is anyone else like that or is it just me?
2. Visit the Grandparents
Family can be one of the most difficult and wonderful things. I'm grateful that we have wonderful grandparents in our lives. I need to be more intentional with spending time with them and not just at this time of the year.
3. Go to the Wells Fargo Family Festival
Our family loves this event! As part of the Holiday Lights Festival in Downtown Omaha, area attractions are open for free on Sunday afternoon. It's a great chance to go through some of the new exhibits at the Children's Museum, visit the Christmas tree at the Durham Western Heritage Museum and wander down to the police horse barn.
Check out more details about the Wells Fargo Family Festival.
4. Write a Christmas Card to the Troops
I just heard about this. Holiday Mail for Heroes sponsored by the Red Cross sends holiday cards to the troops overseas. Just be aware that you have to send your cards by Friday, December 6th! The address is
Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capital Heights, MD 20791-5456.
You can learn more at the Holiday Mail for Heroes at the Red Cross site.
5. Make Sugar Cookies Together
Baking this time of year is one of our favorite holiday traditions. I love to try new things throughout the year, but at this time of year, I go back to the staples. We make sugar cookies from scratch, roll out the dough, bake and decorate them. Every kid should have the chance to make homemade cookies.
I wrote a post about decorating sugar cookies last year.
6. Watch Polar Express
This is one of our favorite Christmas movies. Pull out the PJs and the hot chocolate and snuggle together after setting up the Christmas tree. I saw a few posts online where the families got their kids ready for bed, but then woke them up and gave them a gold ticket that they would punch like the movie. They then bundled up in the car and drove around to look at Christmas lights. I might have to try that this year.
7. Miracle on Farnam
This is a new holiday tradition. Area nonprofits arts and humanities organizations decorate store fronts at Midtown Crossing. Viewers can vote for their favorite windows with the winner receiving a $3000 donation. We enjoyed looking through these detailed window fronts last year.
You can learn more at MiracleonFarnam.com.
8. Sit in Front of the Fireplace
The fireplace crackling and the Christmas lights sparkling. Need I say more?
9. Make a Homemade Present
Picking out unique gifts for each person on the list is part of the fun of this holiday, but sometimes you just can't buy the perfect gift. Photos of the kids placed in a homemade frame can be the perfect gift for grandparents. Time is a great thing to give away this season too.
10. Learn the Story Behind a Christmas Carol
We sing Christmas carols every year, but do we really understand what we're singing? What does Noel mean? In Excelsis Deo? Who was Good King Wenceslas anyway? Why are the Bells Caroling and why is that tune so awesome?
I think I'll research a Christmas carol this season to see what I'm singing about.
11. Playing Hooky with the Kids and go Christmas Shopping Together
I probably shouldn't be encouraging missing school, but really, how long will they be this old anyway? If you're blessed to be able to get out of the office a little early and grab your kids, do it! The stores won't be nearly as crazy during the day and your kids will think it's the coolest thing ever.
12. Make Hot Chocolate
Forget those packets of the powdered chocolate. I mean the good stuff. Warm up the milk, melt the chocolate, add some other favorites if you want and the marshmallows. Enjoy while watching Elf, White Christmas, A Christmas Carol or decorating the Christmas tree.
I like this hot chocolate recipe from the Pioneer Woman.
13. Read a New Story
My family goes through the Advent story and first chapters in Luke during December, which are some of my favorites, but I think I'll start a new tradition. I want to buy a new book at the beginning of December and finish on Christmas morning. I've never read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - that seems like it may be a good place to start.
14. Adopt Someone to Celebrate the Season With
I need to remember to rest and look around for those people who may not have family around or who may not be able to financially do much this time of the year. Family doesn't have to be just blood related.
15. Go Ice Skating
The ConAgra ice skating rink in downtown Omaha opens on the 13th and the price of admission benefits the Food Bank for the Heartland. There are several other indoor ice skating rinks in the area to check out.
Noses will be red and rear ends may be bruised, but it's so much fun and good way to burn off the extra energy the kids have.
16. Go Sledding
Find a sled, find a hill and make sure there's snow. Sledding can be dangerous if you're not paying attention so be sure to keep a watchful eye on the younger ones. I feel bad for parts of the country that don't get the chance to go sledding. (I'm sure those who are surfing are saying the same thing about the landlocked midwest.)
17. Build a Snow Fort and have a Snowball Fight
For a slightly less dangerous activity, use that snow to build snow forts on two sides of the yard. Help the kids make some snowballs and duke it out to see who gets to pick the movie for the evening.
18. Make a Fort Inside, Read a Book and Drink Hot Chocolate
And if it's too cold outside or there's no snow, you can still make a fort. Pillows, blankets and couch cushions are great building material. Climb in there with your kids and the new book and spend some time with them just reading and making shadow puppets.
19. Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater?
I guess this is the new thing to do now. I remember some particularly horrendous Christmas sweaters growing up, but you were supposed to wear them at Christmas time and not just for Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties. I wonder if I still have those old sweaters somewhere... If I don't get to this one this year, I think I'll be ok.
20. Be an Encouragement
I want to try and be intentional about encouraging those around me. The negative tends to stand out more than the positive, so my guess is we need to hear more of those positive things.
21. Walk Downtown with the Christmas Lights
One of my favorite parts of living in Omaha, is walking by the Gene Leahy Mall with all of the trees lit up. You can combine this trip downtown with a loop around the ConAgra ice skating rink and maybe if the kids are behaving themselves, a jaunt over to the toy store in the Old Market.
22. Attend a Holiday Performance
There are dozens of Christmas and holiday performances to attend from elementary school to the professionals at the symphony. I've got my eyes on the holiday concert at the Holland Performing Arts Center. The Christmas Carol at the Omaha Community Playhouse is also a favorite.
23. Make a Holiday Craft
Even if it's just a finger painted Christmas tree, make something with your hands. It feels good. I just saw directions for cranberry, popcorn garland for the tree. That could be fun, maybe loop it around a tree outside?
24. Make a New Holiday Treat
My Pinterest boards are full of edible things to make at Christmastime. I usually like trying to make a new type of cookie, but I am a sucker for the traditional ones. We always make chocolate chip, sugar, snickerdoodles, Mexican wedding cookies, and the peanut butter blossoms. Last year, I made a crossover cookie using a sugar cookie and a peppermint kiss so it looked like a peanut butter blossom. What treats do you have to make every year?
25. Watch It's a Wonderful Life
This has been on the holiday movie watch list for years, and it's probably best for kids who are a little older. It is shown on TV every year, but Film Streams also shows it towards the end of December. Everyone should get the chance to watch it in theaters at least once.
26. Go for a Walk in the Woods
Doesn't it sound magical? The forest is calm and peaceful. You can see your breath as you crunch through the snow, and the evergreens are white towers above you. It sounds like a Christmas card, doesn't it? Anyone know where I can find that winter scene?
What's more likely to happen is a quick walk around the block with the bundled up kiddos. You all sniff from a leaky noses, shiver as you shuffle your booted feet through slushy snow. Either way it's worth experiencing. :)
If you find that picturesque Christmas card location though, will you please let me know.
27. Take a Deep Breath
Stop. Right now, stop. In past years, I've gotten to Christmas morning and wondered what in the world did I do the last three weeks. I want to be present in every moment when I'm with my family and friends and in the bigger story of Christmas. I hope you all enjoy this season and making memories with your families.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!