Christmas Eve Tradition: Christmas Books!

This year, the advent calendar we gave our kids was a new Christmas book under the tree every morning.  We read the book a few times a day, and then put it away so there would be a new book the next day.  It’s been a lot of fun, but I’m especially looking forward to reading The Night Before Christmas on Christmas eve.

Sometimes, though, we found that some of the Christmas books were a little too long for the time-frame we had in which to read them.  If one of the children was not interested in reading a story before bed, we would pick a shorter book so we would definitely have time to read it before the tears started.  That’s where this handy infographic comes in!  I’ve teamed up with Personal Creations, who made this awesome visual.  Just select which Christmas book you want to read, and it tells you exactly how long it will take in minutes to read.  So if you’ve got younger kids, like I do, who might not be able to sit through an entire lengthy book, you can pick a shorter one from the list!

Kids Christmas books

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

xoxo,
Alysa

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Our Christmas Tree 2016

I love our tree this year so much.  It’s HUGE!  Andrew went on the first day they were available, and picked the tallest one he could find.  It was packaged so nicely that it led us to believe that it would be a tall skinny tree.  Well, we unwrapped it and KA-POW! GIANT!  It takes up so much of the living room, but I don’t care. I love it so much!

And every year Christmas with Autumn is more fun than the last.  This year, she’s more aware of things.  She was there when Andrew brought home this tree, so any time anyone mentions the tree, she talks about how Daddy brought it home haha. It’s really cute!

xoxo,
Alysa

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Mama’s Christmas Wishlist

This post contains affiliate links. If a purchase is made through the use of one of my recommendations, I may receive a small commission, which would be a lovely little blessing for my family

At Christmas, it’s so easy for moms to think only of what they need to do for others.  I think it’s important for mamas to think of things they need and want at Christmas-time as well.  Someone needs to buy presents for mama, too.  And, if my family is any indicator of others, the only present that daddy needs to buy is for mama anyway, so we may as well make our list very good.

Here are some ideas for things to get the mamas in your life (and mamas, be sure to link this to your husband so they know what to get 😉 )

01 // A Lovely Candle

I LOVE Candles, and this Maple Syrup Candle with a Crackling Wooden Wick
would be so great! The Canadian in me approves!  And this one looks like it would last a really long time, which is so nice.

02 // Bath Bombs

I LOVE Bath Bombs! It’s so relaxing, and so fun when it makes the bathwater pretty colours.  And funny when it leaves a bunch of glitter all over the tub.  Bath bombs are the best and I wish I had this Bath Bombs Gift Set
right now.

03 // Christmas Tea Towels

I’m sure this is more specific to me, but I realized recently that I don’t have any Christmas themed tea towels for the kitchen.  I have Halloween ones, and Fall ones… but not Christmas ones! This is a problem that needs to be rectified. And this Twas the Night Before Christmas Story Kitchen Tea Towel set is too cute!

04 // Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

How beautiful is this book? I need it to complete my JK Rowling collection.

05 // Coffee!

What every mama of two needs, coffee coffee coffee! Gift cards, beans, anything! 😉 As long as it’s Starbucks Coffee, I’m happy! 😉

What is on your wish list for Christmas this year?

xoxo,
Alysa

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10 Cheesy Christmas Movies to Watch on Netflix

Every year, a certain tv channel has a few days in December where they play tons of cheesy made for tv Christmas movies!  Since we don’t have cable this year, I need my cheesy Christmas movie fix.. and luckily, Netflix is delivering!

Here are my top 10 Cheesy Christmas Movies to watch on Netflix this year!

01 // The Christmas Bunny
This movie was incredibly cheesy!  A little girl who is being adopted? Check. A bunny? Check! All you need to know 😉 Oh, it’s Christmas time.

02 // Christmas Crush
A woman goes back to her hometown for her 10 year high school reunion at Christmas, because of course that’s what they’d have it.  She comes back and starts telling lies about how successful she is.  Will she be caught in the lie? Will she get her high school boyfriend back? You should watch and find out 😉 Oh, and it’s got that guy from Mean Girls in it.. so, that was reason enough for me.

03 // Merry Kissmas
An engaged woman who is obsessed with Nutcrackers has lost the spark with her fiance. Hilarity ensues.  This movie involves a magical elevator.

04 // Angel of Christmas
A young copywriter who hates Christmas ends up being given the chance to write a Christmas themed human interest piece for Christmas eve about her family’s special Christmas angel. Watch for the twist at the end. And the cheese throughout.

05 // Santa’s Little Helper
Santa sends his top elf to find the next “Ho Ho Ho” aka Santa’s second in command aka Santa’s Little Helper, and puts him through a number of tests to see if he has the quality of a Ho Ho Ho.  Very cute. Very cheesy.  Naomi from 90210 is in it.

06 // Holiday Engagement
A woman gets dumped right before thanksgiving and hires an actor to play her fiance because she can’t tell her family she’s been dumped.  WILL THEY FALL IN LOVE? You’ll have to watch and see

07 // How Sarah Got Her Wings
A woman dies on Christmas eve, but her name isn’t on the list to get into heaven.  She must go back to earth to finish up some business in order to get her name on the list.  Her unfinished business has to do with her ex-boyfriend. CHEESE factor high.

08 // Once Upon a Holiday
I haven’t watched this one yet, but I will because it looks amazing.

09 // The 12 Dogs of Christmas
I haven’t watched this one yet, either.. but how can I not? Look at that title!  Also, Aaron Samuels from Mean Girls is in it, so

10 // Small Town Santa
This one was pretty cute. It’s a small Irish town, and everyone has darling accents and most of them are children.  Very cheesy.

What are your favourite Christmas movies to watch at this time of year?

xoxo,
Alysa

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Easy Advent Calendar for Toddlers

Toddler Advent Calendar Toddler Advent Calendar Toddler Advent Calendar

Over the last year (or so), I’ve been collecting Christmas books and putting them aside for the month of December.  Every morning, my children will come downstairs and find a different Christmas book sitting under the tree!  That will be the book we read all day, and then they’ll hear it before bed at night.  And the next morning, it’ll start again.  The final book will be Twas The Night Before Christmas, on December 24th.  On Saturdays, it’ll be a Christmas movie under the tree for us to watch as a family that day!

I’m super excited to get started.

If you’re looking to do something like this with your kids, here are some tips:
– Start looking in thrift stores
– Check out the dollar store
– Ask your thrift store loving friends to look for you!
– And if you don’t have enough in time, the library is a great place to get any extra books!

Do you do anything for advent with your kids?

xoxo,
Alysa

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Things I’m going to do differently for Next Christmas

Christmas Stockings

I know, Christmas JUST ended and I’m already thinking about next Christmas? Yes. I am. :p

This year, I had big plans to do a buy local/give homemade gifts kind of Christmas.  And for the most part, I was able to accomplish that!  I will probably try to do that again next year. A lot of it was really fun, especially when it came to following new small shops on Instagram, and heading to lots of craft sales and makers markets.  It was so great!  Plus, shopping local is good for families in my community.  I was able to (for the most part), give in a way that helped local families with their businesses.  Always great!

However, here are some things I’m going to do differently next year:

  1. Start earlier
    The thing about doing homemade gifts is that they take time!  As it got closer and closer to Christmas, I had to take more and more off of my list because there simply wasn’t time to some things.  For example, we have all these wooden birch discs in our back porch and I wanted to paint them and put them on our mantle.  It literally never happened.  It was on my list for a long time, too.  Maybe sometime between now and Christmas 2016 I’ll be able to do it!
  2. Listen more
    I read a really good article about what makes someone a good gift giver, and that was that they listened throughout the whole year.  People casually mention things that they like and want all the time, so apparently if you really pay attention, you’ll know what to get for someone.  I hope I’m able to do that for next Christmas and really blow people away with their gifts Leslie Knope style.
  3. Take more photos!
    I feel like I say this every year, but this year is no different.  I took A LOT of pictures over the year, just not so many AT Christmas.  I hope that next year I will take more pictures at Christmas time when everyone is all together.  I honestly don’t know why I didn’t.  Probably too busy having fun and put my camera down and then forgot.  Next year!

What would you like to do differently for Christmas next year?

xoxo,
Alysa

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unto us a child is born

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and then will call him Immanuel” — which means “God is with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son.  And he gave him the name Jesus.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?> We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:  “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah: for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child.  As soon as you find him, report to me so that I too may go and worship him”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way and the star they had seen in the East went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with the mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him, then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, and of incense and of myrrh.

Matthew 1:18-25 & 2:1-12

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Christmas Eve and letting go

I think I’ve accomplished most of the things I set out to do before today.  All I really have left to do is make Autumn’s stocking (oops! It’s only Christmas Eve!!), and enjoy Christmas!  Not to hard, right? 😉

I saw a meme the other day that said “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, except the Mother, who was busting butt to make sure everything perfect for everyone.”

It really resonated with me, especially this year (and especially this week).  At the beginning of the season, I had in my head all these things that I wanted to do and make for people.  Mostly for Autumn though, but I also thought I’d be giving a LOT more handmade gifts than I ended up wrapping up last night.

I think this happens with any big event.  You get all these ideas, and you do some of them, but you run out of time… and you have to be okay with not doing things you thought you were going to do.  You get to a certain point before the event where you have to say “I’m not doing that anymore” because there is just not enough time left, and sleeping is really important, too.  I’ve been staying up late the last couple of nights to finish things that I thought I needed to get done, but there was still more that I wanted to do.  Instead of stressing myself out over it though, I’m letting go.

It’s okay if you don’t do everything you wanted to do.  It’s okay if you can’t finish everything you started for this Christmas.  It’s okay!! What you’ve done is totally enough and more.  It’s just about 2:00pm on Christmas eve, and all I’m going to worry myself about is that one little stocking (because she needs a stocking, obviously. What is Santa going to fill if there’s no stocking??), and getting ready to enjoy my Christmas.

Relax, enjoy yourself, be present.

Merry Christmas <3

xoxo,
Alysa

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white Christmas

We’ve had a relatively snow-less December… but this past week or so that has definitely changed.  We’ve gotten a LOT of snow over the last little while, and while part of me is annoyed about it, I also think it’s pretty nice.  But then, I definitely don’t have to take the bus anywhere right now, so I feel like that has something to do with my thoughts on this snow.

At the end of the first day of lots of snow, I took some pictures out my window of it coming down.  <3

white Christmas white Christmas white Christmas white Christmas

And it’s still coming!

Will you be getting a white Christmas where you are?

xoxo,
Alysa

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Unwrap The Present Group Game

There’s a game we’ve been playing for a few years at our holiday parties, and I decided to stop and take some pictures of it this year to share with all of you.  I tried to find out what the game was officially called, but I couldn’t find anything about that anywhere.  We just call it the Oven Mitt Surprise Game, and it works really well with a pretty large group.

Before I explain the rules to play the game, here is how to put it together.

How to put together a fun group game for a Christmas Party

  1. Get your favourite holiday movie and holiday beverage ready, for inspiration!

How to put together a group game for a Christmas Party

2. Collect everything you need.  I put in a gift card (you can choose wherever you want the gift card to be for. We chose Indigo because we were having a book themed party. We’ve also done Starbucks), random candies and coupons as side prizes, and all of the newspaper or flyers you have.  I also used packing tape, masking tape, and scotch tape.

Wrapping the gift

3. Start wrapping!  It looks nice when it’s still small and it’s easier to be more precise with the paper.

Adding the prizes Variety of prizes

4. Don’t forget to add your side prizes!  This was the first year I did this, so it’s totally optional.. but it’s a fun way for the people who don’t win the big prize at the end to get something small as well.  Also, I like to go back and forth between packing tape and masking tape.  Packing tape is harder to unwrap.  Some people also use Duck tape.. which is pretty difficult to unwrap as well!

How to put together a fun group game for a Christmas Party

5. When you run out of flyers or the package is as big as you want it (whichever comes first), wrap it with holiday paper:

Biggest Gift Card ever

And you’re ready to play!  If you’re wondering how long it took me to wrap, there was probably about 10-15 minutes left of Home Alone after I finished, so it took a little over an hour and a half to wrap the entire thing.

To play you will need a set of dice and a pair of oven mitts.

Group Christmas Party Surprise Game

Christmas Party Surprise Game

Get everyone to sit in a circle.  Starting somewhere random, one by one everyone will roll the dice and try to get doubles.  When someone gets doubles they are to put on the oven mitts and try to open the package.  The dice keep going around the circle as people try to roll doubles until the next person does, then it’ll be their turn to unwrap the package.  The person who gets to the very centre of the package (where the gift card is) wins the gift card!

It’s such a fun game, and it’s especially fun if your friends are really competitive or you’re playing with a bunch of teenagers.  It can get loud though, so don’t do it if someone in the house is trying to sleep 😉

xoxo,
Alysa

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