Wednesday, December 26, 2007

family gift exchange

We spend much time over the holidays with extended family. We love seeing everyone and giving and getting gifts, eating, playing games and catching up. But in the midst of it all, we allow a little time for just the four of us to exchange gifts. We always encourage the kids to buy gifts for each other and they have always been good about that as well as getting each of us a present too. It does not have to be much, but our kids always do a great job of buying or making something that shows they really thought about that person. Whether it is a bar of chocolate, a photo from a special time, an NBA backpack or whatever, they put thought into what the recipient wants, likes and needs. We had a wonderful family gift exchange this year and we all really treasure the time for the four of us in the middle of all the holiday "chaos".

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Cookies

Making Christmas cookies is always a fun way to spend some time together as a family before the hectic holiday busy-ness gets into full swing. Trying to make it a relaxed atmosphere where the actual cookie baking is the focus of the fun is a great approach. Maybe even turn on some Christmas music or sing some of your favorite carols together. If the kids are small, you could opt to make up the dough and even perhaps cut out the cookies and bake them before having the kids get on to decorating them. I use a great sugar cookie recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. It is a nice dough that rolls, cuts and cooks up great. Also from that book we love the butter frosting. Add a few icing writers and some sprinkles and you are set! Here are a few of the ones we have made up so far.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

hay ride

A couple of Christmases ago, our church youth group had a hayride. My husband had the trailer filled with hay at our house. He took our young kids along with my nephews and several neighborhood kids for a mini hayride around our neighborhood. The kids loved it. We got to go around and see all the neighbor's Christmas lights. The kids were singing Christmas carols to add to the festive feel of our outing. It was a great way to spend a holiday evening with the family.

Monday, December 10, 2007


My young nephews came over for a sleep over last weekend. They had never made s'mores before. My wonderful neighbors let us use their outdoor fire pit so we could have our own little s'more making celebration. They were not available that night to help me, so another great neighbor came over and helped me get the fire going (he even cleaned it all up for us when we were done! Thanks, S!)

We gathered all the necessary supplies-graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows. We roasted our marshmallows to perfection, then placed them upon the chocolate, both which were then sandwiched between the graham crackers! MMMM-s'more, please! :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

decorating for the holidays

This can be a time of great family fun. We have always let our kids have a big say in the way the decorations are displayed for the holidays. Even from the time they were small we allowed them to help decorate the Christmas tree and put up decorations around the house. My husband always let our son come up on the roof with him to put up the lights-even before I thought he was ready! As the kids have gotten older, they have been very active in the decorating, often taking the lead in getting the jobs done. It is great now that they are big, because they know exactly what to do and are able to do it. This is an excellent way to spend time preparing together for the holidays.