Whew! It has been a busy Christmas season for us this year! Here's a little picture recap of the last few weeks.
We broke tradition this year and set up our tree before Thanksgiving. In the past, we have always done it the day after, but now that we live closer to family, we tend to do a little more traveling that weekend. I love having Christmas decor up, so setting it up early seemed like a better option than waiting until later. This was Ben's first year to help put the ornaments on the tree. Needles to say, all of them were pretty much in one place. :-) He had a great time though.
We spent the weekend after Thanksgiving with Matt's family and got to see not only his parents, grandma and aunt, but also his brother and sister-in-law as well as his sister, brother-in-law and two nieces. This was really the first time the three kiddos actually played together. I don't know if I would go so far as to say they always played well, but it was still fun to see. I think they will keep having more fun together as they get older.
While we were at Matt's family's house, we were blessed to have a baby shower thrown for us by my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. It was a beautiful shower with fun decor and super yummy food. We enjoyed getting to see more of Matt's family and they showered us with some great gifts!
Last year, I had this great idea for starting a Christmas countdown calendar complete with fun activities and treats to count down the 25 days until Christmas. I also wanted to start a Jesse Tree. I think one big idea is enough for one year, so last year, we just did the Jesse Tree. We use a tiny tree that I purchased at Hobby Lobby and little ornaments that I cut from stiff felt. We start the Sunday after Thanksgiving and go all the way up until Christmas. The devotions are simple and it's a great way to see how God had a plan for our salvation from before He even created the world. You can find these free devotions, as well as templates for the ornaments here. This year, we are continuing the tradition of the Jesse Tree, but I added a Christmas countdown calendar in as well. It's kept me pretty busy, but it's been really fun and I'm hoping to keep up the tradition. The above picture is one of the things that was on our calendar. We made these as teacher gifts - dipped marshmallows on sticks, hot chocolate packets, and candy cane kisses. Super fun and super easy. Other things we've done for our calendar are homemade ornaments (total fail of a project, but fun to do), reading books while cuddled under blankets, making cookies, making paper snowflakes, making a paper chain in Christmas colors, and attending a few fun things around town.
One of the events we attended last weekend was called Clabber Girl Country Christmas. My sister works are this awesome bakery and coffee shop downtown and they had all kinds of fun things for kids. Each of them cost a little money, so we let Ben choose two. He went for getting a gingerbread cookie with his name on it and making a paper elf.