As a homeschooling mother I am blessed with an abundance of time with my children. That abundance of time can become a complication during this time of year. When they were little, I would hide their gifts on the bottom of the buggy while they weren’t looking. But some of my bunch isn’t so little anymore and I’ve had to go to plan B… or is it C?
So, how does a person who spends every waking minute with their children accomplish Christmas shopping?
As I mentioned above, I am an old pro at shopping for Christmas right in front of my kids without them realizing. It is a simple game of distraction that I am normally very good at… the downside to this is every once in a while you get caught, if you do, just think fast! My kids all have cousins at a similar age and I tell them that the gift is for that person. I’ve even gone so far as to have one of my children rap the gift and place the other child’s name on it for under the tree! You can imagine the surprise when they see that last gift for cousin being handed to them as their own! … But you can only do that so many times, so If you don’t want to risk getting caught;
A babysitter is a great thing when you have one at your disposal. Normally, my sister-in-law comes for a visit the week before Christmas and my husband and I sneak away for an afternoon to go out to lunch and do our shopping for the kids. This year she isn’t coming until after Christmas- Boo! So, if you don’t live nearby family, you hate to ask your friends for help, or if your children would go crazy if they are left with anyone else… you’re going to need another option;
Late night babysitter
Take advantage of how late the stores stay open during the holidays and spend the early evening with your little ones like normal. After they are all tucked into bed and resting peacefully, have a babysitter come to your home. Afterwards you can sneak away to finish your shopping. This is a wonderful option if you have a close friend or family member available for overnight stays. But if you don’t;
There’s always Daddy duty
Having your husband stay with the children can be a wonderful option. Sometimes my husband will stay with the children while I accomplish minor shopping trips. But if you or your husband prefer that he be a part of your holiday shopping, another option must be considered;
This has been my life saver this year! I have never been an “online shopper” as I love to go to a store, look around, and enjoy the holiday shopping experience, but this year I have been able to find some wonderful deals on toys and clothes online for everything my children will be receiving. Additionally, I have spent much less money than normal, not just because of the great deals, but because I haven’t been exposed to impulse purchases. The best part is I have been able to do all of my shopping right under their noses. (Note: look for the little box at checkout that asks if the item is a gift so they can cover the exterior of the box during shipping… my UPS man almost ruined my Christmas when my first purchase arrived.)
Use one method, maybe two, or combine them all to get your shopping done. Nonetheless, happy shopping, no matter how you plan to accomplish it!
*Please share how you tackle this task in the comments below.
As I search for holidays to celebrate with my children, sometimes I have a difficult time deciding which holiday to celebrate each week. Often I choose the major holidays like Thanksgiving because it seems crazy not to take advantage of all the amazing resources out there. But then, there are holidays which may not be talked about, but should be. This is why I chose Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Since it is a day of remembrance and not a “happy” event, there is not as many resources for a holiday celebration. But children need to learn the important, somber events as well.
In the CLIP, I focused on resources about Pearl Harbor, but you could also study airplanes (check out May 22nd holiday links), navy ships, Hawaii, or more. There are some great coloring pages you can use or check to see if there is a Navy Ship tour near you.
Our family will focus on the amazing sacrifice that our soldiers made then and continue to make today, so that we can live our lives with a sense of security. My heart is deeply touched that people willingly sign up to defend our country knowing the possibilities and the sacrifices that are and may be required.
Merry Christmas!! One thing I absolutely LOVE about Christmas is that so much of my world shuts down and pauses for a day. Stores are closed, people stay home and spend time with their families! So make Christmas Day special. Do something new that you have never done with your children and make it a new tradition. Making memories – that is what is going to last – not the gifts.
Our life has been super crazy this year. In fact, we have not decorated AT ALL except for the nativities that we made. At first, I felt bad, but then I realized – we are really trying to focus on activities, and with the nativity, we have the true meaning of Christmas represented.
Of course, I do have the nagging guilt when someone comes by and says “Oh, where is your tree?” But my husband’s schedule has been ridiculous and he just has not gotten to the attic. And as much as I want a Christmas tree and decorations, it is NOT enough to get me to go in the attic!
I just have to share something with you. Actually two things:
First, this month has really helped me learn to let go. We did so many crafts and things and I kept reminding myself to just let the kids do it their way. In fact, after we made the nativities, I took pictures of all the creations.
This is the boy’s nativity
I love the pipe cleaner hair! They never finished the animals but I am impressed they did as much as they did!
This is the girls’ nativity.
They were pretty funny in staging the people – notice the donkey under the manger and the angel peeking in through the back of the stable. They said the angel had the best seat because nothing was blocking the view of the baby Jesus.
I also took a picture of my friend’s nativity
…her children lost interest so she made it. This picture was before she added the angel – you can see the little angel on the left side of the picture. But the later one turned out blurry. Ugh. Sorry about the pics – I am having one of those days (but it is lasting for weeks. he he) She asked me why I was taking a picture of hers and I said “So I can see what I wanted it to look like.” But I love the ones my kids made. I love to see individual tastes and preferences. I love to see their creativity! All these years I have been stifling them.
The second thing is this – while we were making the stables my friend brought up this pin from pinterest. I nearly died laughing inside as I made a pathetic looking stable. Yep, I nailed it!! So many of my projects end that way yet I am the one trying to force my children to do it a certain way – now THAT is ridiculous.
So anyway, the nativities we made we are a combination of this nativity pin and this stable. As we explained to our friends who joined us – we took this simple nativity and made it a huge project including animals, shepherds, wise men, etc. But hey, that is the way we do it – Go big or do not bother! I must express a certain level of joy though, because we finished the project!!! Wahoo! Normally, if we do not finish a project during our holiday celebration then we never get around to it. So, as Christmas rolls around we will focus on the baby Jesus in a stable and our one completed project!
There are some really great reindeer crafts – far more than I could list on the CLIP. Definitely check out Pinterest!
Well, I had no idea that the Twelve days of Christmas begin ON Christmas and continue until the Epiphany (January 6th). I had commented that we were doing the Twelve days of Christmas starting on the 14th and a friend informed me otherwise. How could I have gone so long in life without knowing that? I have participated in countless 12 Days events but it never came up before. So I thought I would share it with you in case you have never heard that either.
This month is flying!! Have you had the chance to step back from the hustle and bustle and make lasting memories? I hope so. Do your children remember the gifts they received last Christmas? Most of mine do not, but they DO remember what we DID and what they GAVE.
Wow – over half of the way done with the Countdown to Christmas! Time is going crazy fast.
As usual, there are a lot of ideas to choose from. If you do not like something I have listed, be sure to check out Pinterest or do a internet search for the topic you desire.
No surprise to anyone, you will find a candle craft using paper plates, but they are actually really cute! Recycle by creating luminaries out of tin cans – yes, with a Christmas theme. Once you burn the candle there are crafts you can use with the candle wax – like these snowmen.
Another fun option is to print out this poem A Christmas Candle, stick it with a tea light, and you have a Random Acts of Christmas Kindness gift.
Then for day 18 (which is one of my kid’s birthdays) celebrate with music – Christmas carols. There are fun puzzles and games to play, lots of carols to sing, and even ideas on how to throw a caroling party! You could also go caroling and drop off a RACK gift or treat!
Community Events – what a fun thing to incorporate in your holiday celebrating. Not only does it allow you to feel the Spirit of Christmas but it also helps you reach out and embrace the community. Personally, I think a lot of harsh feelings in society could be ironed out some if people would just reach out. I feel better when I am willing to talk to neighbors or wave as I drive by – how does it make you feel? How do you feel when someone intentionally turns their head just they do not have to say “hi” to you.
Today we took our children ice skating. A few of them had gone with friends but for the rest of the family it was their first time. It was so much fun and considering it is Florida and the temperature is in the 70s it was refreshingly cool. We went with friends which was great and the kids even made some new friends!Attending local events and showing support fosters good relationships! My children had an orchestra concert last night and it was so exciting to see so many friends there – some that came just because they know kids in the orchestra. As I waited in line I was in front of a teacher from one of the local elementary schools – she came just to see some of her students. I was so impressed and made sure I told her how awesome that she was willing to do that!!
Find ways to be involved in local events & activities!
I also wanted to share this too —Victoria shared a great site that has worksheets to accompany a ton of holidays. They are wonderful – check out these adorable Christmas worksheets! You can even download a free eBook – just look for it on the left side bar. So many wonderful things to do – but don’t overwhelm yourself thinking you have to do everything. Find what brings joy to your and your family and save the rest for next year!
I never really considered the story behind Christmas cards. I guess I just assumed they have always been around. The same is true of ornaments.
So, my idea for the next couple of days is to make some cards or ornaments to pass out as Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, share with family friends, neighbors or sick children. It is probably too late to send cards to the troops but make a mental note for next year. Maybe mark your calendar for sometime near the beginning of November; prepare both Thanksgiving and Christmas cards for them all at once.
If you missed the Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie, no fear – there are two more books for the holiday season! There is There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell! and There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow!
. I am going to get them both and create some felt to feed our old lady. I can also use the same technique for making felt ornaments – I am creating felt ornaments to do an advent next year using my Countdown to Christmas symbols. This year it will just be a fun felt tree for my toddler to decorate.
Days 13 & 14 Christmas Cards & Ornaments
The next two days will focus on the colors of Christmas – red and green. Day 11 is the chance to do all kinds of red Christmas activities. You could even focus on red foods! Then on the 12th day eat green foods (*see recipe below) as we learn about the Christmas Tree. Ahh, the Christmas tree – there is absolutely NO shortage of ideas of activities about Christmas trees.
Here is Mara’s handprint tree – she came up with it all on her own.
Anderson chose not to use his hand and it turned out great!
I am finally really learning to just let them do their own thing instead of having to listen to me correcting them. It is a shame it took me this long to learn this lesson – they have probably missed out on fun and self-expressive creativity. Oops.
Here is another fun idea I had this year – I made these “lights” out of Rolos for my husband’s desk at work. Word is, I made it longer than it needed to be, so he started eating his decorations!!! Enjoy the colors of Christmas in a non-traditional way too.
Days 11 & 12 The color red and Christmas trees
Green Fruity Smoothie:
A friend of mine shared her “green smoothie” on Facebook the other day and I had to try a variation with my kids. This is what I came up with:
First, let me say that you will need a blender or food processor AND juicer for this recipe. We just bought an inexpensive one for $34 that we have been enjoying for the past week. It has been great for breakfast on the go. Mornings are normally hectic for me. I never have time to eat until about two in the afternoon. If you are experiencing the same thing – GET ONE!
- 1 bag of spinach
- 1 mixed bag of frozen fruit
- water or milk
Step 1: Juice your spinach in the juicer. (*Tip: freeze the spinach pulp for making spinach dip or adding to ricotta pasta recipes)
Step 2: Add frozen fruit to blender/food processor to the “full” line. Pulse 3-5 times.
Step 3: Add spinach juice – run the blender continuously for one minute.
Step 4: Add water or milk, blend and repeat until you reach the desired smoothie thickness.
Don’t worry, you don’t taste the spinach. My kids were very hesitant to eat it. I actually had to force them to give it a try. After a spoonful – they went back for a glassful. Enjoy~ Victoria