Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tis' the Season

It's almost December again-can you believe it?

I love Christmas time-everything about it-the music, the food, the presents, the shopping, the kids' excitement. I don't even mind that it seems to start earlier each year. If it were up to Guapo (and in his car, it is), we would all listen to Christmas music starting October 1. In the other countries that we have lived in (Venezuela, Mexico and now Brazil) things get started mid-October and it's not blamed on commercialism like it is in the States-it just starts early. I figure all the better-people always seem nicer during the Christmas season so why not make it longer?

What I don't like is to feel unprepared for the season, or like it rushes by me without having time to enjoy it with my kids. I have such fond memories of my childhood Christmases and it mainly has to do not with the presents I got (although I loved that too!), but with the things we did year in and year out like making Christmas cookies and fudge with my mom, wrapping presents and going to the same party every Christmas Eve. I loved that it was always the same

I want my kids to have great memories from Christmas so last year I came up with a plan for us to do something Christmasy every day in December. It sounds like a lot, but I just include things that we would normally do like "wrap teacher gifts" and "watch a Christmas movie" and divide them up over the entire month instead of trying to do it all in one week. I figure if I put some effort into it now, it will be easier in years to come because I will already know the majority of things that we are going to do.

So, today, I am going to cover the NEW (things we are trying this year). The next post will be about the IMPROVED (changes I am making from last year to simplify things), and the following will list our current activities. I think. I'm not really sure yet, but that's the basic idea.

Little Christmas Shop

I got this idea from a friend I made in Mexico City last year. She was a totally with-it mom of six-most of whom are grown now.

Throughout the year she would stock up on little toys and such that her kids would like to receive when they were on sale. Then, as it got close to Christmas the kids would start doing chores to earn up money to buy a present for each sibling and their parents. Then, one night shortly before Christmas the mom and the dad would set up a little "store" in a room in their house where the kids would go in one at a time with their money and buy presents (at a reduced price!) for everyone. (The mom and the dad would take turns showing the present for the other parent so it would be a surprise) The kids would leave with their purchases, wrapping paper, scissors and a roll of tape all in a black trash bag and find a quite place where they could wrap the presents.

The presents would be placed under the tree and another night they would have their family gift exchange.

Isn't that cute? I think it's a great idea. I really want my kids to learn about giving to others and not just receiving but in the past it has mainly been us, last minute, rushing to some store and them picking out things for each other and us paying for them. With this new plan:

  • The kids are thinking about giving for the entire season
  • I get free slave labor for a month
  • The kids get to choose the gifts from a selection that I picked out (When Guapo was in charge of Julio's shopping last year we ended up with live turtles)
  • Much less stressful than taking 4 kids to the mall-and probably a lot cheaper

We started doing the chores last week and although they don't love it now-I think they will love the end result. We are keeping track using a sticker chart:

Melodee Bells

Another friend gave me this great idea last year: Melodee Bells.

These are SO cool. Each set has 8 bells- one octave from f to f. They are brightly colored and each has the note name and also a number (1-8). My friend had 3 sets she would take to Christmas get togethers. She had familiar Christmas songs written out on poster board and below each word was both the letter note and the number associated with that word. Each person would get one bell (or two if they thought they could handle it) and we would sing and play the song. Everyone-kids and adults- loved it!

I told her I wanted to get some and she told me to get 4 sets because 3 was never enough. So I did; the link above was the cheapest price I could find. Not exactly cheap if you buy 3 or 4 sets, but she had had hers for years and years. I am planning on using them for Family Home Evening, any get togethers that we have or are invited to, and I am going to take them to each of my kids' classes for a holiday activity.

1st Day of December Party

Saturday we are having a very small (two other families) get together at our house to celebrate the start of December. It is going to be ea-sy. I'm getting pizza, making a veggie tray, buying drinks. We are going to watch the greatest Christmas movie ever (Elf) and try out the Melodee Bells. I'm sure I could make the food more "Christmasy", but Guapo will be out of town so I'm all about making things easy on myself. I'll use my Christmas plates-so it will be Christmas pizza.

Then, when it's dark, we are going to watch the official lighting a very large floating Christmas tree from our deck (complete with fireworks!).

Elf-Pizza-Bells-Big Floating Tree-Fireworks. Hopefully it will be a fun way to kick off the season.
Please share any cool ideas you have for Christmas this year!


Janice said...

I read somewhere about the family gift store this year. My Christmas shopping was already done, so I am going to impliment that next year. LOVE the bells idea.

nikko said...

These are some great ideas. I like the family Christmas gift shop. We usually do the dollar store for the kids to buy presents for each other and for us, but this is another fun idea.

I'm not planning on doing anything Christmas-y till baby is here!

No Cool Story said...

I loved your Plan December last year, and I super love these plans.
The Family Shop is an excellent idea! How come I hvae never heard of it? And those bells? Awesome.

Last year my Plan December fizzled big time. Having busy teenagery teenagers really changes things.
At least we'll always have Elf and It's a Wonderful Life.

Janice said...

Just purchased the bells. I am hoping this becomes a great family tradition.

txmommy said...

wow! that sounds like the best kick off for the holiday season EVER

marina said...

Gabrrela, Have you ever seen the movie THE CHRISTMAS STORY its so cute its about a little boy growing up in the 50's I love to start chritmas with that movie I know you will love it and your kids will enjoy it too.My son love's these move we always wacth it together,

marina said...

oops, I soory I miss-spell your name Gabriela,have a bless day,

marina said...

ok, now i am really miss-spelling
I am sorry there that sounds better.ok, I will go now,marina

utmommy said...

We are decorating our house together as a family together. I think I might copy you and try to do something every day. I guess I better figure it all out!

Calandria said...

I'm leaning toward 12 Days of Christmas with books. I just ordered some Christmas books from amazon and I think I'll wrap them up. The kids will open one on each of the 12 days and we'll read them by candlelight.

Gabriela said...

Janice: I hope you love the bells!

Nikko: is he here yet???

NCS: Yes, i know things get busy quick. At least you have Buddy.

TX mommy: Thanks!

Marina: yes, we love A Christmas Story-so cute.

UT mommy: I'll have my entire list up soon.

Candelaria: I wrapped the books last year and it was a lot of fun.