Goodbye, Christmas

It’s true. Christmas has finally left our house. (Well, mostly. The outside lights are still up – although not on – I’ll get those down when the weather cooperates a little more.)

It’s a lot of work to put the Christmas decorations up and it’s a lot of work to put them away, too. I find that it works best if I keep a system going each year.

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The first thing that I do? Take down all non-tree decorations. Mostly, that means that the fireplace mantel goes back to normal. But, we do have some Christmas decorations throughout the house that also get boxed up with the mantel.

Everything gets dusted before it gets packed up, the mantel is dusted and the rest-of-the-year decor goes back up (after it gets dusted, too.)

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(Time to pick up some flowers for those vases.)

Next up – time to take down the tree.

We do the girls’ ornaments first.  Their storage box also has a small tree that we set up in their room and a Melissa & Doug nativity that we set up by the tree.  The girls have many ornaments that have boxes (I keep most of the boxes) so the first job is to take out all of the boxes so that we can see what we need to find.

We start taking down the ornaments and match them up to boxes (if there are boxes).

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After the girls’ storage is down, it’s time for my ornaments and Ryan’s. I will admit, we have a lot of ornaments and if we lived in a larger house, I would probably have three trees. So, this does take some time.

Luckily, I had some help taking everything down and organizing it.

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Just like with the girls’ ornaments, we have to match up some to the box that they belong in. (I have one large storage container just filled with boxed ornaments.)

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Once the ornaments are all put away, then the lights come down. This tree was a pre-lit tree and, as you can see in the picture below, there are very few lights on the tree that still work. I add everything else.

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After the tree is down, it’s time to do a sweep and vacuum the living room. It’s always sad to put Christmas away, but it’s also nice to have some more space back in the living room.

Until next year!

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Christmas Traditions

Part of having a family is making our own Christmas traditions. Some things have remained the same since Lily was a baby. We visit one side of the family the weekend before Christmas. We visit a second side of the family the weekend after Christmas. But, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are just for us.

On Christmas Eve, we snack and snack throughout the day. We watch movies in our jammies. We take a break to make a gingerbread house. (Or this year….a gingerbread volcano.)

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Then, Christmas Eve Mass and driving around to see Christmas lights (this was the Christmas Eve tradition when I was little.)

One of our favorite places to see lights is by walking through Lilacia Park. We’ve actually never gone to this part any other day except for Christmas Eve.

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Then, Christmas Day, we wake up, open presents and hang out all day. Recently, Christmas Day has become our big “special dinner” that Ryan plans and puts together.

Our traditions have changed some throughout the years but the main purpose has remained the same: to build low-stress memories with our girls.

What are your Christmas traditions?

 

Holiday Bucket List

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s that time of year once again when I put up with the weather because the holidays are just so much fun!

There are many activities that we do every year around this time of year. (It’s a little crazy to think that it’s holiday time once again!) As with our fall bucket list, there are some things on the list that we’ve already done – or will be doing very very soon. So check out the list! There might be some things that you can do along with us!

Some of our favorites:

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Illuminate 900  – This one we actually did Thursday night. We rarely ever go to the 900 North Michigan Avenue shops, mostly because we just never shop that far on Michigan. But, this is a great way to kick off holiday celebrations. It’s free! But, you can add a donation to Make-a-Wish. This year, I got the free wristbands for the girls and I paid for an upgrade wristband for myself. Cookie decorating. Christmas decorations. Music. Dancing. Santa. Yes, it’s a school night, but it’s a lot of fun.

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Mag Mile Lights Festival – This one we will be doing today! This is definitely one of my favorite Christmas activities. Christmas lights. Shopping. Santa. And Disney! When I worked on Michigan Avenue, this was a stressful day to be at work. But, now, I love it! lol

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Holiday Magic –  One of our favorite Brookfield Zoo activities is seeing the decorations and lights throughout the zoo. The lights are beautiful and there are special holiday activities throughout the zoo.

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Look at Christmas decorations – We pretty much do this one all season long. I love wandering through downtown Chicago and looking at decorations, store windows, Christmas trees. There is just so much to see! Plus, after attending Mass on Christmas Eve, we drive around our town and look at decorations. This is a tradition that began when I was a kid and now my own girls look forward to going for a drive after Mass to see the lights.

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Go to Christkindlmarket – Each year, we’ve gone to the downtown Chicago location. This year, my goal is to check out the Naperville location and maybe even hit up the Milwaukee location!

Visit with Santa – Well, we’ve sort of done this. We’ve seen Santa a couple times now but haven’t had the “sit down and tell me what you want for Christmas” conversation with him yet. We did, however, write down lists and mail them off so I think that we have this task completed.

Drink egg nog – Oh, how I love egg nog. And I love to drink egg nog out of my Santa mug or one of my many holiday glasses. This will be happening. Probably several times.

Sit by the fireplace – One of my favorite things in our house is the fireplace. We weren’t able to use it during our first winter in the house because the chimney needed to have some, um, safety problems fixed first. Now, however, it’s fixed, works well, and is just so nice to sit near.

Now, I want to know….what’s on your list of must-do holiday activities?