100 Socially Distanced Christmas Activities For Families

This post contains affiliate links.

This Christmas will be unlike any other we’ve ever experienced -and most of us will be sticking close to home- but that doesn’t mean it can’t be just as magical and meaningful as past holiday seasons. Today I’m sharing 100 ideas for a socially distanced Christmas season. All of these activities can be done at home or as you stay socially distanced on-the-go.

1. Put together a hot cocoa bar (complete with DIY chocolate stir spoons!) and enjoy hot cocoa together in front of the fire.

2. Make reindeer food to leave out for the reindeer on Christmas Eve. (It’s easy- just mix a bit of glitter in a small bag of oats!)

3. Go for a drive and look at Christmas lights while listening to Christmas music.

4. Have a gingerbread house decorating contest between family members.

5. Make your own holiday themed bingo boards and play Bingo.

6. Have a Christmas movie marathon and watch all your family’s favorites!

7. Paint your own wooden Christmas ornaments and decorate with pompoms, sequins, or other embellishments.

8. Make a birthday cake for Jesus and throw him a birthday party. Here are 10 ideas for throwing a birthday party for Jesus.

9. Put together a “blessing” bag for another family and drop it off on their porch then ding-dong-ditch.

10. Make easy, 2-ingredient cinnamon dough ornaments.

11. Have a “wrapping” race and see who can wrap a gift the quickest.

12. Make homemade gifts for your loved ones. Some ideas include sugar scrubs, no-sew fleece blankets, or these delicious, edible gifts in a jar.

13. Set up a nativity scene. (Here’s a cute DIY on how to make a wooden peg doll nativity set.)

14. Read a Christmas book together every night.

15. Do a reverse advent calendar and put one food item in a box every day up until Christmas. At the end of the month bring the whole box of food to a food pantry.

16. Find a local drive through lights festival and visit it with your family.

17. Make a special Christmas morning breakfast. (This holiday casserole is my favorite!)

18. Sing Christmas carols together.

19. Write letters to Santa and send them to the North Pole.

20. Get out of making dinner one night and throw an appetizer party instead by offering a variety of appetizers to eat instead of a full meal. This is what we do every Christmas Eve! We have a couple dozen appetizer choices so there’s plenty of food to fill everyone up and it’s less work for mom because even younger elementary kids can help set up this special night. One of my favorite festive appetizers is this cucumber bites tree but we also love sweet meatballs, hawaiian bread with spinach dip, cheese and crackers, fruit salad, brie bites, and more.

21. Do Random Acts of Kindness as a family for neighbors, friends, or others in your community. Here’s a list of Random Acts of (Social Distancing) Kindness that I put together for the Girl Scouts’ new website.

22. String popcorn and cranberries to make garland for your Christmas tree.

23. Bake Christmas cookies and take some to your local firehouse or to an elderly neighbor.

24. Do an Advent devotional with your family. For those with young children, we love Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands ebook that includes 24 days of Scripture reading, ornament crafts, talking points and extension activities, plus fun printables and templates. For adults and families with older children I love Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.

25. Make chocolate peppermint cake pops.

26. Talk about 2020 and the blessings there have been throughout the difficult months and make DIY memory ornaments to help you remember the good of the year.

27. Make handprint Christmas art with your family handprints. (Be sure to write the year on it!)

28. Build a snowman and dress him up.

29. Send Christmas cards to friends.

30. Dress up in matching Christmas pajamas and take a photo together. (I love doing this every Christmas to see how my kids change from year to year!)

31. Read about the birth of Jesus in the Bible, or in an age-appropriate story book.

32. Make a paper chain to countdown the days to Christmas, removing a piece of the chain each day as you count down.

33. Decorate the Christmas tree with your favorite ornaments and let everyone in the family pick out a new ornament to add this year.

34. Turn some Christmas music on and have a dance party.

35. Participate in a toy drive and donate a toy to a child in need.

36. Put on a Christmas play and record it for family and friends near and far.

37. Make a holiday wreath with pieces of Christmas themed fabric. Get directions here.

38. Ask family members and friends to send you their favorite holiday sides or appetizer recipes and make them all for your family over the month of December. Have everyone vote on their favorites to pick the top one or two that you’ll make during the holidays going forward.

39. Make red and green colored playdough or cloud dough.

40. Get out all the sprinkles and frosting and let children decorate sugar cookies that’ll put them in a sugar coma. (The above picture is my son’s creation several years ago- he went a bit sprinkle crazy!)

41. Watch The Grinch and make Grinch cookies together.

42. Host an ugly Christmas sweater party over Zoom.

43. Take a walk around your neighborhood to look at the holiday displays your neigbors have set up.

44. Have children go through their toys and pick some to donate.

45. Dress up your pet for Christmas by making them a festive bandana.

46. Have a game night as you bask in the lights from your Christmas tree.

47. Put together a Christmas music playlist with everyone’s favorite songs on it.

48. Play holiday party games like pin the nose on Rudolph.

49. Hide the Christmas pickle. I share more about this holiday tradition here.

50. Decorate your house for Christmas.

51. Go to a Christmas tree farm and cut down your own Christmas tree.

52. Attend a Christmas worship service online.

53. Open an advent calendar each night to see what’s behind the doors. My boys have chocolate ones this year and Emma has this big, toddler-friendly advent calendar from Step 2.

54. Watch a holiday tv special.

55. Track Santa on Christmas Eve using the NORAD Santa Tracker.

56. Make and decorate gingerbread cookies.

57. Watch the Nutcracker ballet online.

58. Have a sleepover in the family room and cuddle together under the twinkling lights.

59. Host a Polar Express night for your family. Give each child their own bell and mug of hot cocoa before you read the book and watch the movie.

60. Have a pajamas and pancakes party with special festive pancakes.

61. Write a yearly family letter together and share about your family’s 2020. You can email the letter out to friends and family or send it out with your Christmas cards if you mail those.

62. Have a Christmas carols karaoke night singing all the Christmas classics.

63. Personalize your Christmas stockings.

64. Have a Christmas scavenger hunt around your home or outside in your neighborhood.

65. Eat candy canes and talk about what they represent.

66. Find a local Santa offering drive-thru visits or socially distant visits and see the big guy in red.

67. Make snow angels in your yard.

68. Cut out paper snowflakes and then hang them on your Christmas tree.

69. Make rice krispy treats and use Christmas themed cookie cutters to cut them into holiday shapes and then decorate them.

70. Find the biggest hill in town and go sledding.

71. Stream A Christmas Story and enjoy Chinese takeout for dinner.

72. Wrap Christmas gifts together. If you are still looking for gift ideas check out my 2020 holiday gift guide!

73. Have a painting party and have all your family members paint a Christmas scene or a snowy landscape on a canvas.

74. Play a Christmas trivia game.

75. Share the excitement of gift giving and have your kids help you put together a gift basket to gift someone. Here are some ideas: gift basket for a mommy to “bee”, baby bath time gift basket, iced tea gift basket for mom, pet adoption gift basket, and gift basket for a cancer patient.

76. Have a white elephant gift exchange with gifts found around your home or bought online for less than $10 each.

77. Put together a Christmas puzzle as a family.

78. Have your kids make one of these CHRISTmas crafts.

79. Have a cookie swap. Everyone in the group makes a dozen cookies per person, packages them up, and then leaves them on the porches of the other group members.

80. Go outside for a winter nature walk. Make DIY nature journals before you head out.

81. Do a video call with Santa.

82. Make birdfeeders to hang outside.

83. Decorate a plain white tablecloth with permanent markers so you can remember this quarantine Christmas for years to come.

84. Let children help make a bed for baby Jesus with The Giving Manger. Each time they do an act of service they get to put a piece of straw in the manger for baby Jesus to lay in on Christmas Day.

85. Play Christmas movie charades by acting out scenes from Christmas movies and see if your family members can guess which movie you are acting out.

86. Get bathtub color tablets to add to bath water and take a bath in a tub of red and green water.

87. Spongepaint brown paper to make your own wrapping paper.

88. Put up Christmas lights outside.

89. Help children think of meaningful gifts for their family members and then help them make or purchase them online.

90. Read The Night Before Christmas as a family on Christmas Eve before going to bed.

91. Learn about Christmas traditions around the world.

92. Have a candy cane hunt. You can hide candy canes inside your home or, if it’s not too cold outside, you can hide them outdoors and have a flashlight hunt in the dark to find them.

93. Make mason jar snow globes.

94. Create a nursing home care package and drop it off to a loved one in a nursing home. Make sure to add sweet letters from the kids.

95. Play the saran wrap ball game that’s been floating around Facebook.

96. Pray for friends and family members that send you and your family Christmas cards. You can do this as they are received or one per evening.

97. Create a family time capsule ornament. In a clear ornament add things -either the items themselves or the memories written on pieces of paper- that will remind your family of 2020. (Don’t forget the TP!)

98. Host a “12 days of video calls” and zoom with a different family member or friend for the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

99. Let everyone open one gift on Christmas Eve night. (Some families gift special holiday pajamas to wear to bed or a movie to watch Christmas Eve.)

100. Spend every second you can just enjoying time with your family whatever you choose to do. The memories made during the Christmas season will last a lifetime.

What does your family enjoy doing during the Christmas season? I’d love to hear about it so chat with me on social!

***

Christmas Morning Traditions And An Easy Breakfast Casserole Recipe

This post is written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc.. All opinions are entirely my own.

My favorite day of the year is Christmas Day. When I was a kid it was probably (mostly) because of the gifts but now, as an adult, it’s my favorite because of all of the uninterrupted time we have together as a family. The days leading up to Christmas may be chaotic with last minute wrapping, grocery shopping, holiday parties and everything else, but on Christmas Eve we start to slow down and then Christmas Day we really slow down.

Our day starts early with our boys, clad in matching Christmas jammies, coming in to wake us up. Daddy normally wants to snooze a bit but I sense their excitement so I hop out of bed to make sure everything, including my camera, is ready for the moment they come running out to see what special holiday surprises there are.

The boys head to the fireplace to see what Santa has brought them. They each get a gift or two from Santa and then a stocking full of candy, little trinkets and toiletries. After that they check to see if Santa ate his cookies and drank his milk and check our cat’s stockings to see what little toys Santa left for our fur babies.

After stockings, it’s time for breakfast. This is a tradition that my parents started when I was younger and I continue with my own kids. While my dad cooked a big family breakfast we’d get dressed for the day (and I’m pretty sure this was the one day a year that my three siblings and I got ready without having to be prodded to “hurry up”). Nowadays, we stay in our holiday pajamas all day but we do go and make ourselves a bit presentable for pictures while breakfast is cooking.

This tradition of breakfast before gifts is one of the most enjoyable parts of the day since we generally don’t get to sit down for family breakfasts. We have a variety of breakfast foods but the best part is the breakfast casserole that Sinisa makes. He usually prepares it the night before so it’s simple to pop in the oven Christmas morning. We are all about keeping it easy over here!

This year he is making a casserole with eggs, cheese, sausage, hash browns, peppers and onions. We made it for a quick dinner this past week, to test the recipe out, and the kids ate it, peppers and all. I’m sharing the recipe because if you are looking for an easy casserole idea for Christmas morning (or really any busy day this holiday season) this will be perfect!

Ingredients for the breakfast casserole:

  • 7 eggs whisked together
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese
  • One package of Jimmy Dean® Refrigerated Sausage
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped peppers and onions
  • 10 ounces of hash browns

Directions:

1) Cook the sausage according to the package. We like using the Jimmy Dean® Refrigerated Sausage because the fresh, high quality pork sausage is made with a unique savory blend of Jimmy Dean® signature seasonings which really gives the casserole a great flavor and keeps the ingredient list low. NOTE: You can cook the peppers and onions with the sausage if you’d like to or you can add them to the recipe raw.

2) Add ingredients into a large casserole dish, layering them. We put uncooked hash browns on the bottom, added a layer of sausage and vegetables next, then poured the eggs evenly over the casserole before sprinkling the top with a generous layer of shredded cheese.

3) At this point you can either put it in the fridge if you are making it the night before or you can stick it in the oven. We cooked our casserole (in a covered dish) for 35 minutes at 400 degrees. Keep in mind that oven times vary so you’ll want to temp it and make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

That’s it. So easy but so delicious! We had “breakfast for dinner” the other night and served this casserole with a side of fresh fruit and doughnuts for dessert.

On Christmas morning, after we enjoy our breakfast as a family, we open gifts. The boys play with their new toys while we sit in front of the fire together. We play some of their new games they received and just relax in the glow of the twinkling lights on our Christmas tree. It’s the perfect day.

Want to recreate this recipe? Find all the ingredients you need for this breakfast casserole at Meijer. Tyson® products, like the Jimmy Dean® Refrigerated Sausage, are perfect for all cooking occasions and all holiday season long. Remember that the holidays mean many moments and many meals to share so make sure to stock up on things that will help you create easy meals so you are spending less time in the kitchen and more time with your family.

How do you spend Christmas morning? I’d love to hear about your family’s holiday traditions and any delicious meals you make!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Holiday Coffee Bar With DIY Chocolate Stir Spoons

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HolidayFlavorsAreHere #CollectiveBias

It’s no secret that Starbucks® is my go-to coffee brand. Ever since my boys were tiny (when I was lucky to get a few hours of sleep each night) I needed a good (strong) coffee to get me through my day. Nowadays, I get a lot more sleep since my boys are in elementary school, but I still enjoy my daily cup of Starbucks® Coffee.

With the holidays quickly approaching I thought it would be fun to put together a coffee bar. I kept the decorations simple, going with a plaid tablecloth and red and wood accents. I love the “baby it’s cold outside” theme as well so I included a cute sign to encourage my guests to enjoy a warm cup of coffee.

Along with the Starbucks® Holiday Blend 60ct K-Cup® pods, I added a jar full of Lindt Chocolate Assorted Lindor Truffles and some little glass jars of add-ins including nutmeg, sugar and crushed peppermint pieces. I also made stir spoons out of the truffles because what is better than coffee and chocolate? The sweet, rich taste of Lindt Chocolate Lindor Truffles brings out the sweet maple flavor of Starbucks®  Holiday Blend Coffee.

(Hover over the image above to shop directly from it!)

The spoons were simple to make. I used 12 Lindt Chocolate Lindor Truffles (dark and milk chocolate varieties) and melted them over low heat until they were a liquid. I then poured the melted chocolate into a silicone mold and refrigerated them for 2 hours. After the chocolate hardened I gently released the chocolate spoons from the silicone mold and placed them in a wooden tray. (The 12 truffles made about 8 chocolate stir spoons.)

The last things you’ll want to add to your coffee bar are holiday mugs. I love big mugs and this one with the words “choose joy” is one of my favorites! Once your coffee bar is all set up you will *have* to test it out. Let the scent of coffee brewing fill your room as you sneak a truffle!

If you entertain often, I’m sure you know how fabulous buying in bulk is so you’ll be happy to know you can find both the Starbucks® Holiday Blend 60ct K-Cup® pods and the Lindt Chocolate Assorted Lindor Truffle Bag at your local Sam’s Club in the coffee and candy aisles. You can enjoy 50 bonus stars with purchase of any one qualifying Starbucks® packaged coffee or K-Cup® pods at Sam’s Club through 11/1/17-12/26/17.

How are you preparing for the holidays? Will you be discovering a new holiday combination as you set up a coffee bar for your guests to enjoy?

DIY Favorite Memory Ornaments

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

One of my favorite things about the holidays is decorating our home for Christmas. Out of all the decorations that I own, none are more cherished than my personalized ornaments. Most of my personalized family ornaments are “dough” ornaments that I have gotten over the years, from my childhood and through my parenting journey. They all have our names and the year we received them. This year I wanted to try my hand at creating our own personalized ornaments but wanted to add some memories to the ornaments so every year when we pulled them out we would think about fun times we’d had over the years.

I’m loving rustic Christmas decor lately so I thought it would be fun to use round wood pieces to make some favorite memory ornaments for 2016. Originally I was going to get round wood pieces and drill a hole into them to make them into ornaments but I found pre-made wooden ornament packs in the woodworking section of my local craft store which made this DIY craft even easier. If you have a live tree you may even want to cut pieces off the bottom of your Christmas tree trunk (after the holidays) to make this craft. That would really make these ornaments special and personalized!

So other than your wooden circle pieces that have drilled holes towards the top you are going to need pretty ribbon and Sharpie markers. I chose to use the new Sharpie Extreme Permanent Markers because they are fade-resistant. There would be nothing more devastating than creating these special ornaments only to take them out of the decorations box years later to find the ink had faded and you couldn’t read the special memory that you’d written down! These new markers are also specially formulated for wood (along with plastic and glass) so I knew they’d be best for this project.

The first thing I had to do was switch out the twine for some festive ribbon. I got double sided ribbon that was polka dot on one side and striped on the other. I recommend using thin ribbon but if you have thicker ribbon, like I did, you can just roll it to get it through the hole in your wood. One it’s through, tie a knot in the ribbon so that you’ll be able to hang it on your Christmas tree. You’ll want to create one ornament for each person in your immediate family.

The last step is to write on the ornament. Using my green Sharpie Extreme Permanent Marker, I wrote everyone’s name and the year on one side of the ornament. I then asked my family members what their favorite memory from 2016 was and wrote that memory down on the opposite side. If you have younger children you might want to talk about some of the things you did throughout the year so you don’t end up with their favorite memory being what you did the day before because that’s all they can remember doing.

With this year being our first Disney trip I wasn’t surprised that both Jacob and Sinisa listed Disney as their favorite memory. Lucas thought back to one of our summer day trips at a local theme park and decided his favorite memory was when he rode roller coasters there. I had a lot of great memories this year but chose our Mackinac Island vacation, where I showed my family the place I’d loved visiting as a child, as my top memory.

I was so excited to put these ornaments on the tree and know that they are going to bring back wonderful memories every holiday season. I will be making these ornaments every year as our new family tradition.

What memories would you put on your ornaments?

 

50+ Stocking Stuffer Ideas {Something For Everyone!}

Disclosure: Some items were received for consideration but all thoughts are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

One of the last things “Santa” has to purchase every holiday season is stocking stuffers. “Santa” tries to limit the candy in the stockings and instead stuff it with small necessities and a few fun items. If you are still looking to fill your stockings I wanted to share some ideas of things you can put in them. This list has something for everyone from kids to teens to adults!

1) Nail polish and nail art – Espionage Cosmetics offers a line of cruelty free nail wraps in fun designs like the rose ones pictured above. They are easy to apply, do not require a heat gun, and when mastered it only takes 5 to 10 minutes to apply.

2) Socks

3) Deck of cards

4) Bath toy

5) Mini screwdriver

6) Keychain

7) Hair ties, bows or headbands

8) Gloves 9) Toothbrush – The kids love BrushBuddies! There’s a new Shopkins Brite Beatz one that plays the Shopkins theme song along to synchronized lights. Brite Beatz helps improve oral care making brushing fun for kids. Shopkins theme song will play for the dentist recommended two minutes. Shopkins Brite Beatz has fun characters on the handle and a comfortable grip for kids.

10) Gift card to their favorite restaurant

11) Chewing gum

12) Stickers

13) Small bottle of alcohol (21+)

14) Crayons

15) Body spray 16) Reusable bags – Urban Market bags are stylish, high quality, reusable shopping bags that are eco-friendly and completely washable. These bags are made from a lightweight nylon fabric with strong stitching that makes them extra durable and the ideal reusable tote bags that will last for years. Best of all, they are compact when not in use which make them ideal for stashing in your glove compartment box, your purse or anywhere else you may need to keep it.

17) Hot sauce

18) Makeup brushes

19) Money clip

20) Ornament

21) Gift card to a coffee shop

22) Stuffed animal – Bears for humanity is a great choice because for every stuffed animal purchased, another is given to a child in need. The bears are made using only certified organic materials by at-risk women in welfare-work programs right here in the US. They have a number of animal pals to choose from so you can find the perfect companion for the little one in your life!

23) Lip balm

24) Small notepad

25) Movie tickets

26) Jar candles

27) Comb or small brush

28) Luggage tag 

29) Headphones – Cozy Phones are awesome because not only are they headphones but they keep the head and ears warm at the same time. There are lycra, mesh lines ones for active people and also fun, fleece animal ones for kids.

30) Lotion

31) Coffee beans or K-Cups

32) Handmade soap

33) Things for their hobby- guitar picks, paintbrushes, soccer shin guards, etc

34) Makeup

35) Guides – You can purchase a guidebook that teaches a new language or skill but Deckopedia is cool because it makes guides in deck form. Fun ones include Mixology 101: The Art Of Crafting Cocktails and Natural Beauty Skincare, a collection of homemade beauty recipes.

36) Hand warmers

37) Bubble bath

38) Tie

39) Coffee Cozy

40) Hair gel or spray

41) Small games

42) Bubbles

43) Face masks – 7th Heaven makes a variety of single use masks that are available at Walmart. Their mud masks are enriched with nourishing active ingredients to deep cleanse, leaving skin fresh, clean and glowing. Peel off masks purify skin enabling all the natural goodness to nourish and pamper skin to perfection. Exfoliating masks deep cleanse and polish to remove stubborn surface blackheads and awaken dull skin and renew skin texture.

44) Tiny puzzle

45) Phone case

46) Scalp massager (I got these ones on Amazon for less than a $1 each!)

47) Pens and pencils

48) Selfie stick

49) Coins

50) USB charger – Ezisoul’s multi-port charger is the perfect travel charger because it let’s you charge 5 devices (phones and tablets) at once using only one charger. Engineered with Auto Detect Technology, this USB port charger lets you plug any device, Android and Apple, into any port and the smart charger will get exactly what it needs to charge the device rapidly and effectively.

I’d love to hear any other ideas you have!

Cucumber Bites Christmas Tree Appetizer Tray

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HolidayEntertaining #YogurtInspiration #CollectiveBias

One of my favorite ways to celebrate the Christmas holiday is to have my family over to spend time together. Christmas Eve is our big celebration at my house and I always have a table full of appetizers. I don’t just do parties a little bit. I go all out and make as many appetizers as I can. We then enjoy the leftovers as we lounge around on Christmas Day (because nobody really feels like cooking after all the work of the holidays has ended in ten minutes of unwrapping frenzy).

If you do any entertaining over the holidays you’ll want to make this fun Christmas tree shaped appetizer. I love cucumber bites but I decided to change them up a bit after having a gyro for lunch one day and wanted to make the topping for them taste somewhat like the tzatziki sauce I love. To do so, I added dill and feta cheese in to try to recreate the flavor. You could always add in some ranch mix instead of the dill and feta cheese if you’d rather.

Since I was making this recipe for the first time it was a bit of trial and error trying to get the thickness right. The texture of the creamy mixture on top should be similar to the texture of frosting. You don’t want it to be thin and runny. I think I nailed it after making a couple of adjustments.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Dannon All Natural Plain Yogurt
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of feta cheese
  • 4 sprigs of dill
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 4 cucumbers
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • Brick of cheese (optional for star on tree)
  • Crackers (optional for trunk of tree)

To start you will want to add your yogurt, cream cheese, feta cheese, dill, garlic and lemon juice into the cup of your food processor and blend until you have a thick, creamy consistency.

Once you have your topping you’ll want to cut your cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Before cutting your cucumbers you can use a vegetable peel to take the skin off or you can leave it on. Cucumbers should be sliced about an inch thick and cherry tomatoes should be cut in half. Set aside the tomatoes and place the cucumber slices on your tray to look like a Christmas tree. You may need more than one platter if you have smaller sized trays.

To top the cucumbers I put the cream filling in a frosting decorator tube with a frosting tip but a piping bag works just as well. If you don’t have either of those you can always use a plastic sandwich sized bag and just cut one of the corners off to squeeze the topping through. I liked how fancy they looked with the special tip and I wanted to get some use out of the frosting decorator that I had discovered as I was cleaning out my pantry this week.

Once the cream mixture is on the cucumbers you’ll want to top each one with a piece of tomato.

The last step is to add the “trunk” of the tree and the star. Both are optional but I thought they really made things look festive. To make the trunk of the tree I stacked crackers on the tray and for the star I used a cookie cutter to cut a star out of a brick of cheese.

I love how my Christmas “tree” turned out and I know my guests will love eating these appetizer bites.

As I shared a couple weeks ago, I love using Dannon All Natural Plain Yogurt in my recipes because it’s made with only natural ingredients. While it can be enjoyed on it’s own, I often use it as a cooking substitute in recipes. Many recipes for these cucumber bites use other ingredients like sour cream or mayo but I chose to make mine with yogurt to make it a bit healthier. Yogurt is also a great base for any dips you may be making this holiday season!

 

You can find Dannon brand yogurt at your local Meijer store.

Will you be entertaining in your home over the next few weeks? If so, what kind of appetizers do you set out for your guests?

My Festive Kitchen {Target Gift Card Giveaway}

Target is my favorite store so I’m excited to be working with them on this sponsored holiday post and giveaway.

I can never seem to get out of Target without a cart full of goodies, so when I saw the holiday kitchen and entertaining aisles I knew I was in trouble. This is our first Christmas in our new home so it was the perfect time to add some seasonal items to our kitchen. Everything was so adorable and many of the things would be perfect for making my home festive while entertaining family and friends this month.

One thing my family likes to do is get together to decorate cookies. We bake sugar cookies and then let the kids decorate them however they’d like to with frosting, candies and sprinkles. Normally the toppings are in plain bowls but I love these Threshold stoneware bowls. Though they are red and white I can use them year round since they aren’t too Christmasy.

We also like to make peanut butter kiss cookies. The kids unwrap the hershey kisses for me. It’s their favorite job because they get to sneak a few candies while mommy isn’t looking. Target has lots of cookie plates. I picked up a couple along with a cookie jar since we always have dozens of Christmas cookies during the holidays.

Another thing I made for holiday guests this year is a mini hot cocoa bar. I put hot cocoa mix in a big glass jar, marshmallows in a mason jar, and then set mugs out. I used a large gift tag and red ribbon to add a little holiday cheer to the setup.

I love how much more festive my kitchen looks now! I think it is so welcoming and I can’t wait for family to come on Christmas day to celebrate with presents, cookies and mugs of hot cocoa!

How can Target help you celebrate the holidays? Tell me what you pick up from my favorite store to make your Christmas, Chanukah or New Years celebrations brighter for a chance to win a gift card!

One reader who comments with their answer below will win a $75 Target gift card. You can earn an extra entry for sharing this post on social media (just leave a second comment with the link).

This giveaway ends December 31, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be a US resident and 21 or older to win.

The Christmas Pickle Tradition

(Disclosure: We received a gift set in exchange for writing this post but all thoughts are my own.)

The Christmas Pickle Tradition is a wonderful holiday story that reminds us all about the true spirit of Christmas.  Follow the journey of Pickle Elf as he learns the magic of giving, and inspires Santa to begin this wonderful Christmas tradition.

Want to join in the fun this holiday? It’s easy!

Leave the pickle ornament by the milk and cookies for Santa to hang on your Christmas tree. In the morning watch your loved ones, big and small, search for the pickle. The first one to find it will receive an extra present from St. Nick! This is our first year doing the tradition and we can’t wait to see where Santa hides it on Christmas morning!

The beautiful gift set comes with a glistening pickle ornament, annual pickle finder and the beautiful Christmas Pickle Tradition book in a ready-to-gift box. If you’d like to start this tradition this year it’s not too late! You have until December 20th to ensure Christmas delivery and the shipping is free. Purchase this gift set here.

Roaming Reindeer: Our New Christmas Tradition

(Disclosure: We received a copy of the book for review but thoughts are my own.)

My favorite holiday is Christmas. I love the extra family time and gift giving but one thing that really sets this holiday apart is all of the traditions that go along with it. From baking cookies to watching holiday movies to drinking hot cocoa while looking at light displays, everything makes the holiday just a little more special.

As my kids get older we occasionally add traditions in to the mix. We do Elf on a Shelf here (though our elf doesn’t do anything fancy) and this year we are also doing Roaming Reindeer. What is Roaming Reindeer you ask? Here’s a little more about this brand new tradition:

Gus and Sam are two of Santa’s reindeer.  They decide to visit girls and boys to help Santa see who’s being naughty or nice.  Sam gets sad whenever he sees a child who is naughty and ends up telling Santa.  Gus sticks around to keep watch.

When the two realize that there isn’t enough time to visit all of the children before Christmas, they call on their friends for help.  They send their friends off in pairs of two, and assign each pair to a home. Reindeer 1 will disappear to tell Santa any time someone has been naughty. Reindeer 2 will always stick around to keep watch.

On Christmas Eve, the reindeer disappear to help Santa deliver the gifts.  They will return again next year during the Christmas season!

If you are like me and forget to move the Elf you will love this because the reindeer stay in one spot most of the time! The only time one of them moves is if they have to go tell Santa something and then they can be gone for 30 minutes or a couple days. It’s not as rigid of a schedule as the Elf and I really appreciate how much easier it is.

Want Roaming Reindeer of your own? Purchase a kit here.

 

15 Christmas Themed Sensory Activities For Kids

We have one more week of school before the boys are out for Christmas break. Both boys get Occupational Therapy in school to help regulate their bodies so if I don’t have any sort of sensory activities planned for their two weeks off things will be really crazy at our house.

Here are 15 of my favorite Christmas themed sensory activities that I’ve found online. Click on the links to get all of the details so you can recreate the activities yourself!

Christmas Sensory Bin from Sow Sprout Play

***

Messy Christmas Sensory Play: Demolish A Snowman from Fun At Home With Kids

***

Peppermint Scented Homemade Finger Paints from Golden Reflections Blog

***

Jolly Jello Sensory Activity from Growing A Jeweled Rose

***

Hot Cocoa Sensory Tub

***

Christmas Present Pasta Dig from Bath Activities For Kids

***

Christmas Slime from Craftulate

***

Ten Scents of Christmas Sensory Cards from A Little Learning For Two

***

Fingerprint Wreath from 3 Dinosaurs

***

Christmas Colored Gel Sensory Bags from The Preschool Toolbox

***

Christmas Sensory Bin from Frogs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

***

 Candy Cane Foam

***

Christmas Sensory Table

***

Christmas I Spy Bottle from Play and Learn With Dana

***

DIY Holiday Touch & Feel Box from B-Inspired Mama

10 Handprint & Footprint Christmas Crafts For Kids

I think handprint and footprint kid’s crafts are so adorable. Here are 10 of my favorite Christmas ones:

Christmas Tree Footprints from House of Burke

***

Reindeer Card with Handprint Antlers from The Craft Train

***

Family Handprint Christmas Tree from Mama Smiles

***

Footprint Snowman from Frogs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

***

Hand and Foot Print Christmas Cards (Tree, Reindeer, Santa) from We Made That

***

Snowman Hand Print Christmas Ornament from Glittering Muffins

***

Hand Print Angel from My Little 3 and Me

***

Handprint Christmas Wreath from NurtureStore

12 Christmas Tree Crafts & Activities For Kids

The holiday season is finally here! I’m so excited to share some great Christmas crafts and activities with you all in the next month. Today’s post has 12 Christmas tree crafts, activities, and even a snack for kids. Enjoy!

***

Footprint Tree Craft from The Preschool Toolbox

***

Christmas Tree Of Hearts from Blog Me Mom

***

Christmas Tree Sensory Bin from How Wee Learn

***

Drinking Straw Christmas Tree from Reading Confetti

***

Sticky Wall Christmas Tree Decorating from Gift Of Curiosity

***

Recycle Crafts Christmas Tree from Teach Me Mommy

***

Upcycled Christmas Trees from Hands On As We Grow

***

Christmas Tree Playdough from Homegrown Friends

***

Felt Pompoms Christmas Tree from Glittering Muffins

***

Christmas Tree Hat from Green Owl Art

***

Decorating Felt Christmas Trees from Buggy & Buddy

***

Christmas Tree Crafty Snack from Kiddie Foodies

Snow Themed Crafts Kids Can Make

With all the snow we got recently I was inspired to gather a bunch of snow related crafts kids can make.

{Click on the pictures to be taken to the posts they come from}:

Snowflake

***

Marshmallow Snowman

***

Paper Plate Snowman

***

Popsicle Stick Snowman

***

Puffy Snowman

***

Snowflakes And Mittens

10 Ideas For Christmas Morning Breakfast

One Christmas tradition I loved as I was growing up was having a big breakfast on Christmas morning. We used to open our stockings from Santa, have breakfast, and then it was finally time to open gifts. My dad used to make casseroles for breakfasts but now that I have my own family we need to figure out what we want to make. Sinisa is European and loves making crepes with nutella so that is an option but I wanted to get some more ideas so I headed to Pinterest for some inspiration.

Here are 10 ideas I found {click on pictures to be taken to the posts they come from}:

Christmas Tree French Toast

***

Cinnamon Rolls with Pecans

***

Sausage and Egg Casserole

***

Spinach and Ham Omelet Rollup

***

Breakfast Wreath

***

Red Velvet Pancakes

***

Santa Pancakes

***

German Pancakes

***

Blitzen Berry Yogurt

***

Christmas Muffins

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas…{15 Ideas For Christmas Eve Fun}


1) Enjoy hot cocoa as you drive around town and look at lights

2) Sing Christmas carols

3) Bake cookies and decorate them

4) Make ornaments for the tree

5) Watch a Christmas themed movie. Jacob and Lucas both love Caillou’s Holiday Movie.

6) Attend a Church service

7) Make Reindeer food {oatmeal mixed with glitter} and sprinkle it in the yard

8) Eat a special Christmas Eve meal as a family

9) Set out cookies and milk for Santa {and don’t forget the carrot for Rudolph}

10) Track Santa’s journey online

11) Eat sugarplums {here’s a recipe to make them}

12) Put on Christmas pajamas. The boys have special Thomas jammies for Christmas and will wear them all day :)

13) Read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

14) Read about the birth of Baby Jesus and make him a birthday cake.

15) Send the kids to bed early!! {Ok, maybe this one is only fun for the adults….}

10 Creative Gift Wrapping Ideas

This week starts my least favorite Christmas “to do”…wrapping gifts. It’s just so time consuming since I have to make sure they look perfect and while I’m doing so I’m thinking of how they are just going to get torn open. I do some gift bags but I think unwrapping gifts is so fun for the boys so I want to give them gifts they can unwrap.

I searched online and found 10 creative gift wrapping ideas. Now if only I had the time to make my gifts look this beautiful… {Click on the pictures to be taken to the posts they come from.}

Gifts with flowers on them

***

Doilies as wrapping decor

***

Confetti Dipped Gifts

***

Lightbulb Bow

***

Wrapping with cloth

***

Newspaper wrapping with big bow

***

DIY Wine Wraps

***

Wrapping with ribbon

***

Stamped Gifts

***

Button decorated wrapping paper

***

Speaking of gift wrapping…who wouldn’t LOVE to have this room in their home?

Practical Magic traditional home office
***
{Linked up at OhAmanda}

CHRISTmas Crafts

We are making an ornament a day using the Truth in the Tinsel Advent e-book but I wanted to share some other Advent inspired crafts others are making. {Click on the links to be taken to the posts they come from.}

Printable Nativity Set

***

Advent Wreath

***

Baby Jesus On Construction Paper

***

Gingerbread Nativity

***

Coffee Filter Angel

***

Advent Coloring Pages

***

Baby Jesus Craft

***

Golden Cork Angel

***

Nativity In A Pot

***

You may also enjoy my post on 7 ways to celebrate the reason for the season!

10 Yummy Christmas Treats

Here are 10 creative Christmas treat ideas perfect for holiday parties or just to enjoy yourself :)

Snowman Cookies

***

Reindeer Noses

***

Snowmen Faces

***

Santa Hat Brownies

***

Christmas Caramel Popcorn

***

Lindt Truffle Reindeers

***

North Pole Cupcakes

***

Hot Cocoa Dippers

***

Covered Cherries

***

Peppermint Reindeer Food

10 Christmas Crafts Kids Can Make

Kid made crafts make great gifts and decorations. Check out some of my favorites below and click on the pictures to be taken to the posts. {Looking for ornaments kids can make? Find that post here.}

Handprint Shape Angel

***

Sugar Cone Trees

***

Pine Tree

***

Bottle cap magnets

***

Paper Plate Wreath

***

Water Cone Cup Craft

***

Rudolph Gift Bag

***

Handprint Tree

***

Cotton Ball Santa

***

Footprint Reindeer

10 Ornaments Kids Can Make

Here are some cute ornaments that your kids can make.

Click on the pictures to be taken to the posts they are from:

Pom Pom Ornaments

***

Popsicle Stick Christmas Tree Ornament

***

Scrappy Ornament

 ***

Mess Free Glitter Ornaments

***

Glitter Ornaments

***

Pinecone Christmas Tree Ornaments

***

Handprint Ornament

***

Craft Stick Reindeer

***

Puzzle Piece Christmas Tree

***

I Spy Ornament

7 Handmade Ornaments {Great Gift Ideas}

Need a gift for a teacher, grandma, or a friend? How about a handmade ornament? Check out these ornaments I’ve found online. {Click the pictures to be taken to the posts}

Personalized Christmas Ornaments

***

Felt Christmas Ornament

***

Recycled Christmas Card Ornaments

***

Button Ornament

***

Scrabble Ornaments

***

Cookie Cutter Ornaments

***

Picture Block Ornaments

10 Christmas Cookies I Want To Try

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday post is a roundup of ten cookies I want to try this Christmas season.

Click on the pictures to be taken to the posts they come from.

{Note: My tried and true favorites will be coming in other posts throughout the season.}

Mint Sandwich Cookie

***

Peppermint Mocha Blossoms

***

Snowball Trees

***

Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies

***

Colorful Swirl Cookies

***

Eggnog Cookies With Eggnog Icing

***

Black Forest Crinkle Cookies

***

Rolo Cookies

***

Peppermint Milk Chocolate Cookies

***

Pizzelles

10 DIY Handmade Wreaths

Wreaths are an easy way to decorate for Christmas so I wanted to put together a roundup of wreaths that can be handmade. {Click on the pictures to be taken to the posts they come from.}

Initial Wreath

***

3D Paper Star Wreath

***

Ribbon Wreath

***

Felt Holiday Wreath

***

Peppermint Wreath

***

Christmas Card Holder Wreath

***

Felt Ruffle Wreath

***

Ornament Wreath

***

Burlap Christmas Wreath

***

Red Wreath