one thing my family always did, was make christmas candy. my parents make fudge and caramels that people rave over. i remember always being in the kitchen when my mom was making caramels and my brother and i would fight over the 'tester' piece. when they were set and cut, we would sit around the table and do the dreaded wrapping. as a kid, it wasn't fun, but it is something that i enjoy being a part of as an adult. i didn't get the caramel making gene, but i do enjoy making other types of christmas candy/treats. one of my favorites is the pretzel, white almond bark and m&m's. very easy and with littles around, a pretty quick task. cookies, grinch treats, and apple bread was also on the list.
i always had an advent calendar growing up. the one with the days numbered on little doors you opened on that day and then there was a little chocolate inside. my mom has searched and i have searched and we can't find them, so i came up with my own version of an advent calendar. i saw it on pinterest last year and just put my retired elementary teacher/crafter skills to work. it's cute for now, and the kids love putting on a cotton ball each day. the only problem, they both think they need to do it. i have a few other ideas for the future, but this will work for the next few years.
along with the advent calendar, i did a little thing with the twelve days of christmas this year. for each day, we had a christmas book that was wrapped and the kids took turns each day unwrapping a book and then we would read it. sometimes i read during snack time. sometimes at bedtime. sometimes we even forgot and then opened and read two the next day. this was fun, but maybe a bit advanced for their ages. as they get older, i'm sure the books will hold their attention better. i had many of the books from my teaching days, but some of them i checked out from our library. i just had to make sure they were opened sooner than later so i could return them on time.
and my favorite tradition that we started in 2011, is the elf on the shelf. when i bought him, i wasn't sure how well i would do, but i really do love finding a new place for gus and using him to make fletcher behave a little better. it's also great to see the kids try and find him. brynlee really got into it and sometimes found him before fletcher even had a chance. i've had to be a bit careful with my placement of him, since baby girl likes to not listen and touch when she's told not to, which makes a little boy flip out because he gets it more than than she does. some of the ideas on pinterest are too fun not to do, but until i have two children who will 'play' along with the rules, those fun things won't be happening.