Monday, December 1, 2014

YH Matchbox Christmas 2014

I began feeling "mommy guilt" a few years ago because I used to do a lot of fun, interactive activities when the kids were preschool age, but with the addition of each child and adding home schooling to my list, those were not happening as frequently.  Teaching is a full-time job.  I try to include extra activities within our day, but let's be honest - I  neither have the time (or the desire) to plan crafts, art projects, and science experiments several times a week when I'm juggling three grade levels' worth of planning and work on top of all that we women do to "keep a home."

Thus, desiring to be intentional about enjoying my children and the festivities of December together, I began the "Matchbox Christmas Countdown."  This is certainly not an original idea, and there are a lot of variations {search Pinterest to see what I mean}.

I bought my boxes at Wal Mart.  The inside part was already white, so I didn't bother painting them as some do.  I purchased a small booklet of scrapbook paper at Michael's and then cut the paper down to wrap around the outside box, hot gluing it on. Using white sticker dots, I numbered each box.  Easy-peasy!

I keep a running list of ideas in a file on the computer or jot them in a notebook.  Before it's time to fill the boxes, I sit down with my calendar, a piece of paper numbered 1-24, and begin filling in activities.  We did a lot of these things prior to the boxes, but they seem  extra special when the elements of surprise and mystery are added in!  I print them out, cut them in strips and fill the boxes. They're kept in a glass jar with a ribbon around it on the kitchen table.

Here's our list for this year {but, SHHHH!! The kids don't know what's coming up!}:

1. Decorate trees in your rooms.

2. Make Christmas pancakes.
   {Shaped pancakes are a staple item year round- I have collected a lot of molds over the years}

3. Write out cards for your Sunday School teachers.

4. Do a Christmas puzzle together.

5. Make turtles and eat some!
    {square Hanover pretzels + Rolos + pecan halves heated several minutes in a warm oven}

6. St. Nicholas Day!
    {New this year- we have a Dutch heritage on both sides of the family; our last name means "yellow hat" and there's even a restaurant called "In the Yellow Hat" on a dyke in Holland.  We have wooden clogs that I'll fill with a candy cane, clementine, and a few chocolate coins for them to find on Dec. 6.  I'll get a book from the library or some type of reading on the history of St. Nicholas.}

7. Do Christmas Mad Libs.
    {My kids think these are a riot, so why not?!  Check out my Christmas board on Pinterest for free Christmas mad libs.}

8. Get peppermint milkshakes at CFA.

9. Get donuts for breakfast.
    {Sometimes we go in our pj's through the drive thru.}

10. Decorate a team member as a Christmas tree!
     {New this year- it'll be fun with the grandparents in town!}

11. Have a Nutcracker party!
      {The girls are performing in the ballet this year and it's the only night of production week we don't have a rehearsal, so we'll get our party on with a nice dinner and sweets and treats since my parents will be in town.}

12.  Play games together.
       {Any game will do.  I also have a Christmas Bingo game and we'll play with M&M's or mini holiday Oreos as markers.}

13.  Attend (or dance in!) The Nutcracker Ballet

14. Have hot chocolate.
      {I have a hot chocolate station set up in the kitchen during the winter months.  We have some cute gingerbread mugs from Crate and Barrel- both child-sized and regular-sized.  Check the after-Christmas sales; they're really cheap then!}

15. Go shopping for gifts.

16. Make cookies for the airmen on base.

17. Wrap gifts.

18. Drive through Sherwood Forest.

19. Caroling.
      {We sing together daily during our family devotions, but we're going to make a little party out of it this year with friends.}

20. Play in the Christmas recital.

21. Gingerbread Day!
      {We have a tradition involving gingerbread baking and decorating and eating that's a must even though it's evolved a bit over the years.}

22. Camp out in front of the tree.

23. Watch a Christmas movie and eat popcorn.
24.  Attend church and have snacks afterward.