“It’s that time of year, when the world falls in love…every song you hear seems to say, Merry Christmas…”, The Christmas Waltz, by Frank Sinatra hums in the background, spiced pumpkin latte candles fill the air, as the fire in the fireplace envelops the space like a warm hug. The children put the finishing touches on their gingerbread house before changing into their cozy matching PJs to watch the classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, and string (and eat) popcorn to hang on the Christmas Tree. That is how I have always envisioned spending Christmas time, when in reality it’s more like a cyclone of ‘to do’ lists…clean house, decorate house, buy gifts, me losing my patience and yelling at kids to get their PJs on, or anything that resembles PJs, because I am lucky enough if I get them matching Christmas clothes let alone matching PJs.
There is a lot on our minds this time of year and sadly the things that slip away are the things we would really enjoy doing with our children, like decorating a gingerbread house, stringing popcorn, decorating cookies, etc. Not this year! This year we are going to take back the joy of Christmas with this awesome countdown to Christmas!
How it works:
First make a list of the things you would like to do with your children during Advent (time leading up to Christmas), or feel free to copy mine.
Visit the Manor House Decorated for the Holidays at Wildwood
Decorate Christmas cookies
Get out the Advent wreath and read daily sections from the Advent book
Attend the Christmas Carol Sing at Rosary Cathedral
Watch Polar Express & get the Polar Express train out to place around the tree
Make ornaments for ornament exchange
Listen to, The Great Santa Clause Mystery & other books on tape
Read, The Christmas Sweater
See The Toledo Ballets 79th performance of the Nutcracker, at Stranahan
Watch the classic, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer & Frosty
Read a Christmas Carol
Decorate Gingerbread House
Family Christmas Bingo Night & Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas
Read, The Christmas Story
Visit Children’s Wonderland
Watch, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Read How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Listen to Christmas records while decorating the tree
Go to the Lights before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo
Watch the classic; It’s a Wonderful Life at Valentine Theatre
Watch the Nativity Story
Go to a Lighted Christmas Parade (Shout out to & thank you goes out to Pemberville for adding the magic to our Christmas season with their awesome lighted parade, and to Dei Fratelli for one sweet twinkling tomato!)
PJ brigade & Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt
Read, The Night Before Christmas
Second, get out your planner/calendar and determine which day works for each activity. For example, I know that Friday nights are our movie nights, so we will watch Christmas movies on Friday night. That being said there are particular evenings that certain events have to happen, such as the Nutcracker Ballet, touring the Manor House, Visiting Children’s Wonderland, Christmas Carols at the Cathedral, and visiting Children’s Wonderland. I find that laying everything out on a table and simply placing a Post-it on the date that works best for said activities is the easiest & most efficient way to schedule said events and activities for the month of December.
Third, wrap each activity/event (place tickets in an envelope and wrap the envelope) and place number/date on the back of each package so you can remember which day to open each item. And set them out wherever you wish. I place our countdown packages on our mantel, they double as decoration. Not only does it look visually appealing but it also saves us money. I purchased the gift wrap from the Dollar Store; I spent $2 on our Christmas decorations this year. Winning! 😉
Not only does the countdown help you to spend quality time with your children, but, hopefully, it helps you budget your Christmas Activities. While most are activities we already had, like the books, books on tape, DVDs, and craft items (just raid your arts and craft bin) there are a few free events, like touring the Manor House at Wildwood, Christmas Carols at Rosary Cathedral, & Lights before Christmas at the Zoo (thanks to our membership) but, also some events and activities that we needed to budget into finances.
Coming up Next week: I will be discussing the benefits of living life simply, or rather, embracing the simple life this Christmas.
Do you have a countdown or Christmas tradition that your family practices? I’d love to hear about it, please share.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! Toledo & the surrounding areas are literally bursting with fun family friendly holiday events! The best part, there is something for everyone and every budget! For our family moderation is key during this special time of year, sure we splurge on certain family traditions like, Children’s Wonderland, Disney on Ice, and the Nutcracker. But in order to keep that Christmas cheer & make certain the entire family, (including mommy and daddy), stay merry & bright throughout the season we seek out fun FREE events in our community…and let me tell you, there is no shortage of fun, FREE, family friendly Christmas events!
Bowling Green’s Annual Holiday Parade in historic downtown BG…“Polar Express: Next Stop Bowling Green,”!
Where: Downtown Bowling Green, OH. The parade steps off at 9:50 a.m. & the first float is set to hit Main and Wooster streets at 10 a.m.
When: Saturday November 23rd 10am-12pm….Over 10 marching bands, 40 floats and 140 units, from dance groups, to sports teams, to scouts and other organizations BG’s parade boasts of being Northwest Ohio’s biggest and best! The 2019 Bowling Green Holiday Parade’s theme is “Polar Express: Next Stop Bowling Green,”!
Join ProMedica and 13abc as we kick off the holiday season with an evening of Santa, character meet and greets, food trucks, carolers and family fun! 13abc will be on hand for a live broadcast throughout the evening that ends with the lighting of the Promenade Park tree!
5-6 p.m.: 13abc Action News Live news broadcast from Promenade Park
5-8 p.m.: Hope for the Holiday Celebration & Toy Drive
Santa’s Magical Arrival @ The Shops at Fallen Timbers
Where: The Shops at Fallen Timbers 3100 Main Street Maumee Ohio
When: November 29th 5:30-7:30pm
What: The Shops at Fallen Timbers will be Welcoming Santa to town with a Magical Arrival Event. Friday, November 29th from 5:30 – 7:30 enjoy Character Appearances, Music and Dancing, Face Painting and Balloon Animals, a bounce house, and we will end the evening with bringing Santa Down Main St. on a Firetruck to enjoy a Fireworks Spectacular!
This event is free and open to the public!
Who loves a parade! It’s time for Downtown Wauseon’s 10th annual Lighted Christmas Parade! Parade winds through historic downtown Wauseon. The parade features, bands, horses, carriages, twirlers, and more!! It wraps up with caroling, FREE refreshments, and a visit with Santa at the Depot!
Where: Light parade will start at the Maumee Indoor Theater & proceed southbound on Conant St.
The Holiday Light Parade is an annual event that takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. NEW THIS YEAR: At the suggestion of the Maumee Police Division, the route for the parade has been changed. Holiday Light Parade: Lighted floats and walking groups will line up along the six-block stretch of West William Street. The parade will then step off from the Maumee Indoor Theater and proceed southbound down Conant Street toward the river before turning right onto Broadway Street to disperse.
The Streets will be alive with crowds of kids both young and old waiting to see the 60+ lighted floats and the man of the night SANTA!
Christmas in Ida & Parade of Lights (and Fireworks!!)
When: Dec. 6th-7th
Where: Downtown Ida
Christmas in Ida & Parade of Lights…..Hosting over 52,000 visitors, and known as a family destination of the Midwest, the festival creates a winter wonderland known for its hospitality, entertainment and the Granddaddy of all, the spectacular Christmas in Ida Parade of Lights featuring parade units from Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Canada and Michigan. Most of the events are Saturday, including lunches with Santa, story time with Mrs. Santa Claus and the craft shows are all day! Click on Website for full rundown of events for the weekend!
Saturday Dec. 7th at 7pm, HUGE light parade and fireworks!
All aboard! Come in your PJs and join other kiddos for a magical evening as they host their annual Storytime of the beloved classic The Polar Express. Free hot chocolate and cookie…and activities to follow!!
When: Friday December 6th, 2018 7:00 PM
Where: Barnes & Noble Fallen Timbers 3100 Main St #1400, Maumee, OH 43537
Where: Barnes & Noble Franklin Park & Fallen Timbers
“Grow Your Heart 3 Sizes!” and celebrate all things Grinch with a reading of the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! We will have good deed badges and tracking booklets for kids to log all the good things they do this holiday season. Activities to follow!
When: Friday, December 6, 5 to 9 p.m.
Saturday, December 7, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, December 8, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Toledo Botanical Gardens
Heralding the Holidays Heralding the Holidays is a decades-long tradition showcasing the artist and garden clubs of the Artist Village at Toledo Botanical Garden. Throughout the weekend, you will find art, jewelry, stained glass, and pottery for sale, dried herbs and herbal products, food trucks and roving carolers. Visitors can blow a glass ornament, and glimpse Father Christmas (Friday evening) wandering through the village. Village studios will be decorated. For more details visit the Artist Village website.
Home for the Holiday’s Parade- Downtown Perrysburg & Parade
When: December 8th @ 2pm
Where: Downtown Perrysburg
Downtown Perrysburg, Inc. (DPI) is busy preparing for the annual “Home for the Holidays” parade, complete with marching bands, horse drawn carriages, dancers, and other street performers, clowns, big and small balloons, little cars and big trucks, candy and of course Santa Clause! The parade will begin at 2 p.m.
Where: Wildwood Metropark 5100 Central Ave, Toledo, OH 43615
Ring in the holidays at one of Northwest Ohio’s most festive celebrations, Holidays in the Manor House! For over 40 years, community volunteers have transformed over 30 areas of the Manor House at Wildwood Preserve into a holiday wonderland. Tour the Manor House and see why over 25,000 people make Holidays in the Manor House an annual tradition. They always incorporate the kiddos into the tour by adding a small scavenger hunt for items, dress up & photo opportunities, s’mores outside, & NEW this year, ice skating!!!
Help us celebrate the holiday season with an event for all ages. We’ll start with a craft at the Library, then walk together to the Highland Park Shelter House to enjoy live music, cookies, hot chocolate and a visit from Santa!
It’s A Wonderful Life: Silver Screen Classic Film ($5 a person)
When: Friday, December 20th & Sunday, December 22nd @ 7:30pm
Where: 410 Adams St, Toledo, OH 43604
Enjoy Toledo’s New Old Fashioned Night Out! Cold Tall Drafts, Full Bar & Popcorn available! It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra. Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, and Henry Travers. (Tickets are general admission but reservations are strongly encouraged for this film).
Every who down in Who-ville likes Christmas a lot, but the Grinch who lived just north of Who-ville did NOT! So the cuddly as a cactus Grinch (with termites in his smile and garlic in his soul) tries to wipe out Christmas for the cheerful Who-villains, only to discover: maybe Christmas, he thought doesn’t come from as store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more! Magnificently narrated by Boris Karloff and animated by cartoon legend Chuck Jones, it’s an award-winning Who-roast-beast-feast of a holiday classic!
My latest obsessions, headbands & literary classics! Headbands because I adore a little something that makes it look like I actually tried to do my hair, lol! It doesn’t get any better than a messy bun and a headband.
And literary classics, the kiddos and I have decided that from now on in the evenings, in addition to saying the Rosary we will be reading a chapter or two out of a classic book that has also been made into a movie. Thus, once we have finished reading said book we can have a family movie night and then discuss how the book and movie differed.
I am happy to state that we followed through and our first book we completed was The Little Prince. Last Friday we watched the movie and then discussed the similarities and differences once everyone stopped crying, yes, it was that good! As my son stated, in-between tears, “that was the best book and movie I have ever heard and seen”. I am not going to lie, that put a huge smile on this momma’s face.
Our next book, Treasure Island….
And check this out, in addition to the book and movie combo, Marzipantz Knit & Crochet Dolls has this adorable Pete the Pirate Doll that would be the perfect addition!!
This is why Marzipantz Knit & Crochet Dolls shop is my pick for the perfect Christmas Gifts (or add on/stocking stuffer) for girls and kids!
Total disclosure, I have already purchased one of Marzipantz dolls, Saint Kateri for my daughter’s birthday and it is absolutely adorable!!! I am such a sucker for a book, movie, doll combination for kiddo’s birthdays and Christmas gifts.
How lucky am I to have found a store that feeds both my obsessions, headbands & literary characters?
Luck was meant to be shared! 😉
Marzipantz Knit & Crochet dolls is giving away one of their awesome headbands (winner picks which one)! You can keep it all for yourself or use it as a Christmas gift, your choice…all you have to do to be entered to win is:
Are you ready to make a memory that is sure to go down in history? As many of you know I have always been a HUGE proponent for giving the gift of an experience for Christmas. Giving the gift of a beautiful experience that a child can treasure for a lifetime is ultimately priceless, especially when they get to share that experience with a loved one. To this day I still treasure my first live performance show, the ballet, The Nutcracker, at Stranahan Theater with my mother and grandmother, it was seriously an experience like none other and one I enjoy sharing even to this day. My grandmother has since passed and that memory is one I cling to, getting all dressed up, chatting during intermission and the feeling of being part of something special, it was magical! And I can’t wait to share that same magical feeling with my children. The most famous reindeer of all is coming to Stranahan!!
As a child the Christmas season didn’t officially begin in our house until that highest rated CBS Christmas special of all time, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer aired. The excitement and anticipation was always off the chart that night. My sibling and I would sit way too close to the television set, eager to see if the story may playout differently this year, but every year my eyes would tear up when they met Charlie-in- the-box on the Island of Misfit toys. After learning of the Island of Misfit Toys I remember vowing to always take good care of my toys, and for the most part, I did. As an adult I really appreciate ALL the valuable lessons hidden in that critically acclaimed show….true friendship, how our unique traits should be treasured, the importance of diversity, not bullying, responsibility, etc. Come to think of it, there are some lessons in the show that even we grown-ups might need to go back and review. And review we can!
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL (www.rudolphthemusical.com) is coming to Stranahan Theater!! November 25 for two performances ONLY!!!
Performance Schedule for RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL at the Stranahan Theater
Friday, November 25, 2016 1:00 PM
Friday, November 25, 2016 4:00 PM
Tickets for RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL start at $28 and are available online at http://www.BroadwayInToledo.com , at the Stranahan Theater box office, 4645 Heatherdowns Boulevard, or by calling 419.381.8851. (Looking to make this a scouting, playgroup, youth group, or club event? Group tickets of 10 or more can be ordered by calling 866.314.7687).
If you are looking for the perfect souvenir to help your child commemorate the experience then check this out……
Rudolph’s partnership with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center continues this year. A new illustrated storybook, T.E.A.M. Rudolph and the Reindeer Games, will be available this year only at the stage show performances. A portion of the proceeds from all sales of the books will be donated to PACER.
***Please Note: Theaterleague.com, BroadwayInToledo.com, and the Stranahan Theater box office are the only official sources for tickets to RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL and all of the shows in the 2016-17 Broadway in Toledo. If you purchase tickets through another source, you may pay over-inflated prices and your tickets will not be guaranteed. ***
What is your favorite scene from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?
This Christmas Gift Guide is anawesome resource to help you determine the perfect gift for each of the loves in your life-family, friends, neighbors, teachers, & we can’t forget Fido, or any other furry family members. Since this season is often an overwhelming one for most I have decided to give you something fun to look forward to, how does a giveaway sound? Giveaway DEETS will be at the bottom of each post….so, without further ado…
This week’s Christmas Gift Idea is for the Couples in your life….parents, sister & brother-in-law, in-laws, neighbors, that couple in your church group, friends, etc. This gift offers them the opportunity to eat, drink, play, and watch, all under the same roof!! And it is something both the ladies & gents will enjoy….
The Perfect Gift for Couples: A Gift Card to Dave & Buster’s!
Because though everyone has the best intentions sometimes a cooking class, a night at the shooting range, and/or camping gear don’t always go over well with the couple as a whole.
Because Toledo now has a Dave & Buster’s!!!
Because what couple doesn’t need a date night?
Because of the fun local flavor Dave & Buster’s added to the décor.
Because it is so nice to get a break from having to plan a meal, make a meal, & then cleanup said meal! Oh, and the food is unbelievably delicious! The menu is off the hook….they literally have something for everyone; carnivores, herbivores, and they offer an allergy friendly menu too!
Because 2 for Tuesdays: $2 Tacos, $2 Select Beers, & 2 FREE Plays with $10 Power Card (open-7pm)
Because Happy Hour is Monday-Friday 4-7pm
Because ½ off cocktails, $2.50 domestics pints, $1 off 22oz drafts, $1 off glasses of wine & $3 off bottles of wine.
Because ½ priced games on Wednesdays, Woohoo!!!! (And the possibility to win COOL prizes…this isn’t your kid’s prize options, wink-wink)
Because there are no shortages of screen so you can watch whatever you please! For once there will be no arguing over the remote!
Bonus: If you offer to babysit for free the night the couple uses your gift card your gift will officially get bumped to THE BEST gift in the world!
Win a $25 Gift Card to Dave & Buster’s
How to enter:
1.Share this post with a friend
2. Comment below stating which game you dominate at Dave & Buster’s….or in general 😉
We started off Christmas Eve at my parent’s house. We exchanged gifts then headed to Rosary Cathedral for 4pm Christmas Mass. After Mass the children wanted to take photographs of the nativity with their new cameras, we have future photographers in our family.
And in support of their new-found interest I will be adding a new installment to the blog titled, Kids Click and Pic, coming soon. After Mass we took a slight detour back to Nana and Papa’s so we could listen to Christmas music and look at Christmas lights. I so enjoyed the Chorus of “Wows” from the backseat, especially our little 16 month-old who just learned the word a few days ago.
Once at Nana and Papa’s the kiddos joined the rest of the family and grabbed a plate and started munching on some yummy hors d’oeuves.
After hors d’oeuves we had dinner, lasagna from Spaghetti Warehouse, garlic bread, and Salad. We all sat and toasted to an exciting announcement, my grandfather is officially cancer free (he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer five years ago and has under gone surgeries, radiation, and has a permanent colostomy bag), the best news ever! After dinner we all made our way into the Family Room where the smell of pine from the Christmas tree and a warm fire in the fireplace greeted us. Once everyone found a cozy spot Papa Joe began to recite Twas the Night before Christmas, a family tradition.
After Papa Joe has finished reading we begin to sing Christmas Carols. We always starting with Santa Claus is coming to Town, and low and behold, guess who shows up? Santa Claus!! He has been showing up for Christmas Eve at my parents’ house since I was two, I think they have his direct line.
The kiddos were so excited to see Santa, well, almost all the kiddos. The youngest was not a fan.
Once Santa left we began singing again and at the end of Twelve days of Christmas we received a great surprise. My cousin called, he is a Marine stationed in Afghanistan and this is the first Christmas he has not been with family. My Aunt passed the phone around and we all had an opportunity to say Merry Christmas. It was an incredible way to end the best Christmas Eve ever.
It seems like Christmas morning comes earlier and earlier each year. The kiddos became overwhelmed with excitement at 6am when they saw that Santa arrived and he ate their Christmas cookies.
I popped some Cinnamon rolls into the over, made some coffee, and then it was GAME ON!
Each child took turns opening their gift and our eldest was so eager to give us, my hubby and I, our gifts that she purchased from her school’s Santa Shop. She gave my hubby a beautiful Santa ornament which he instantly jumped up and placed on the tree. While she gave me, a woman who is, and comes from a long line of individuals who have graduated from and/or are huge fans of Ohio State, a Michigan state ornament. Seriously!?! I wasn’t sure if I should disown her or hug her? So hug her I did, and graciously thanked her for the lovely gift.
The kiddos all seemed to really enjoy their gifts. We keep it small, each child receives four gifts, and it is perfect. We figure their birthdays are their big celebrations and Christmas is more about spending time together and giving.
Oh, and our four-legged friends also received treats from Santa which our toddler had mistaken for human food, yuck!
After we opened our gifts we packed up the car and headed over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house (and grandpa’s, my hubby and I are very fortunate that our parents are both still married, that means we only have two houses to visit).
Once there we opened gifts, ate dinner, and enjoyed spending time together. Then it was home for a long winters nap (until the 26th when we headed to Sauders Village for a Christmas gathering with extended family).
How was your Christmas? Any funny moments? ….Sad moments? …..Crazy gifts? Please share.
I am finding it difficult to maintain the “normal” day-to-day routine while preparing for Christmas festivities. I woke up this morning wanting to throw a full-fledged mommy tantrum. I am talking kicking and screaming until my face turns blue tantrum. I have this overwhelming anxiety that just hit me like a freight train this morning. I kinda knew it might hit me eventually because I have been breezing though the past few weeks cool as a cucumber, eager to celebrate Jesus’ birthday and spend time with friends and family (you know, the true meaning of Christmas). Then this morning I awoke with a Scrooge attitude, I realized that I have exactly one week, not even, make that five days, to complete everything for Christmas (mostly the materialistic things).
Then I started going through my “To Do” list in my head:
Need to get my 16 month old in for her 15 month doctor’s appointment (feeling sooo guilty for this one).
Need to fill out permission slips and get money for field trips, due today (it’s gonna be late).
Son needs a dress shirt for Christmas (sounds so simple but those crazy stores strategically place all toys or “cool” expensive character PJs next to the dress clothes, I am sure he will be asking for everything under the son. I need one of those “that was easy” buttons that say “no, it is not in our budget right now”).
Need to finish purchasing some Christmas Gifts, I would rather go into labor again than fight the traffic and crowds of crazy people, seriously, is there such a thing as a surrogate laborer? Sign me up!!
Contact family and see if anyone can make it to son’s Christmas program tomorrow (so last-minute, I meant to say something weeks ago, honestly!)
Need to wrap gifts, I am a greenie so, I try to wrap with whatever I have on hand at home. Last year it was brown packaging paper with pine cones, twine, and clips of evergreen. The year before I included cloth/linen, you can wrap small gifts in linen napkins and the person receiving the gift gets a bonus gift, linen napkins! This year I am using magazine pages to wrap gifts.
Need to finish a few gifts for our playgroup kiddos.
Remember to move the elf! Poor guy has spent a few days just hanging around in the same location, I think he had one to many eggnogs and couldn’t fly back to the North Pole; he took the mature route and avoided a DWF (Drunk while flying).
Finish teacher’s gifts. This year they are getting Eco-friendly soap and air fresheners.
Get Christmas morning PJs for my daughter (it has been tricky trying to find little girl PJs in a size 8, she is really tall for her age)
Address and send Christmas Cards (or save them for next year?)
Change sheets and much more but I don’t want to eat up any more of your time, you have your own list that I am sure is escalating as we speak/type.
I would like to just go back up to bed and call in overwhelmed. I need an assistant but I think they are expensive, anyone know anyone willing to work for Cheerios? Or, maybe I could multiply myself like in that Michael Keaton movie multiplicity? Although, if I remember correctly that just ended up being more work keeping track of all of his multiple selves. So, instead I am going to put some Christmas potpourri on the stove to get back into that Christmas spirit and take Julia Andrews /Froilan Maria’s advice and start at the very beginning; it is a very go place to start.
Please share your “to do” list, what’s the weirdest thing on your list? What are you dreading the most? Or, maybe you are on target, and have little left on your “to do” list, if so I am jealous and I would love to hear your secret.