Sunday, November 7, 2010

Get ready (cause here it comes!!)

Well hellooo! Hope you had a great weekend! We did a whole lot of marching band and not much else. :)

I just finally got all of the Halloween decor down a couple of days ago. (Well, except for the orange lights out front. And the stuff I forgot in the garage. And the trinkets in the car. And the nightlight in the Bub’s room.) But other than all that…it’s all put away.  :)

And now I’m really starting to think about the upcoming holidays – and getting really excited! Our season last year was full of all kinds of bad news – my father-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and then weeks later we lost my mother-in-law.

Needless to say, we just couldn’t get to everything -- it was the first year I can remember that I didn’t send out Christmas cards. I know it’s no big deal in the scheme of things, but that in particular really got me thinking about preparing for the holidays this year. So for the past few weeks, I’ve been making a list of the things I want to get done well before the end of the month!

First up…address our Christmas cards and get them ready to mail:

(Click on photos for sources.)

Guess how many boxes of cards I found in the basement last year? That would be THREE. I think we’ll have plenty. ;) Now, getting all four of us together for a decent Christmas photo – that’s the hard part.

I still hand address our Christmas cards – I actually quite enjoy it! I find it relaxing, and add in some Christmas music and hot chocolate and it makes for a lovely little tradition of my own. :)

Next up – going through the pile of toys:

OK, I may be exaggerating. Just a smidge. A skosh. Really, not much. Not at all. :)

The Bub’s birthday and of course Christmas are both in December – so we get the influx of new toys for the year within a span of a few weeks.

I. must. prepare.

I. must. prepare. when the Bub isn’t home.  ;)

Third on my list is to make a list and check it twice (wink). A few weeks ago I started a list of folks I don’t want to forget at the holidays -- there’s the mailman, the Bub’s teachers, friends and family of course. But also some folks we haven’t given to before – like the day care staff at our Financial Peace class, the waitresses at our favorite restaurant (if it tells you anything, they know us by name), and some of the great contacts I’ve made through blogging.

A few will get some of my yummy strawberry jam I made back in the summer:

strawberry freezer jam

It sure is good!! I know…I’ve already eaten a couple of the “gifts” myself.

And finally, because our kiddo is almost four and getting more fun with each passing day, I want to create new traditions that he’ll remember year to year.

I’ve heard the Elf on the Shelf can be quite labor intensive (on you-know-who’s part), but oh my goodness they are too stinkin’ cauuuute!:

the elf

Just look at that face!!

I guess he “watches” over the kids for Santa, yes? And he moves around the house every night, finding a different spot to hide. ACK! Adorable. Right up my alley baby.

And I kind of have a thing for advent calendars. Last year we got this cute Lego calendar:

2824-0000-xx-12-1

My friend Richella told me about it, and even though the Bub was still a bit small, I couldn’t resist! He LOVED it.

I have a couple advent versions I’ve made and I highlighted them last year here. The little cardboard boxes are my favorite:

I love finding advent calendars you can make on your own – on a recent browsing trip through Pottery Barn Kids, we found both of these:

 

The tree is especially adorable just because it’s more than five feet tall and HUGE…but at $70, my mind immediately went into gear thinking how (relatively) easy it would be to make this one on the cheap! A huge piece of green felt, scraps of holiday fabrics and little embellishments and you could totally do this one on your own!

And Pottery Barn has a couple of advent calendars in stock, but this is the one that absolutely kills me:

Yes, because it’s pretty and adorable and a really cute idea. But it really kills me because it’s priced at $299. Gah, excuse me while I choke a little. What the what??

I know it would take some time, but some branches from a tree, (you don’t really have to use branches – how about some dowel rods?), some twine and 25 little spray painted buckets…you’ve got yourself an equally adorable advent calendar…for about $250 cheaper? Maybe?

I’d like to get my prep for the holidays done this week, so I can focus on Thanksgiving and then the Christmas decorating!! Whoooohoo!

How do you prepare for the holidays? Do you have any fun family traditions? Have you made your own advent calendar? Be sure to tell us about them or if you’ve blogged about one – link it up in the comments! We all could use a little help making the magic happen.  :)

Christmas is only SEVEN weeks away! Can you even believe it??

**You can enter the Makia Creations and HomeGoods Mom Cave giveaways until Monday at noon. And there’s still a bit more time to link up your before and after project for this month here!

61 comments:

  1. So fun!! I can't wait for Christmas!!! I love those advent calendars. that one with the branch and buckets is sooo fabulous!

    Yay!

    xox
    Jen

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  2. We got the Playmobile nativity a couple of years ago and my son exclaimed, "Look, It's Lego Jesus!" (You know, like Lego Star Wars).

    I have an advent calendar I'm pretty proud of from a few years back:

    http://meandmyinsanity.blogspot.com/2008/11/counting-down-christmas-advent-calendar.html

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  3. We've had an Elf on the Shelf for the last few seasons..his name is Hermie. ;) The boys LOVE it. Loads of fun. Love the Lego Advent calender idea!

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  4. I twitted, twittered, tweetered about that same PB advent for $300! Are you kidding me? Gees! I do an advent for my kids that I made a couple of years ago. If anyone is anything like me, they like to see visuals. Thought I'd link it in.
    http://www.justagirlblog.com/2008/12/where-did-i-go.html

    It took me forEVER to find one I liked. Now, of course, I want to do something new. It's a curse.

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  5. Yes! Do the elf on a shelf. My sis does this with my nephews and they adore it to pieces.

    What happened with your bedroom and closet redos? Love seing your before and afters. Just wondering.

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  6. I also tweeted about that PB advent calendar. I'd made one using little rustic buckets a few years back and used to hang them from ribbons off my staircase. Well, we moved and no longer have a staircase so I haven't used them. I'm figuring I will get some branches and make this one. I LOVE it but not $300 worth!

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  7. I can't wait till Christmas. I been eyeing up my Advent Calendar for weeks now...will get it out soon and fill it....and the good thing this Year I have no Children about to share the goodies with...Mine all Mine!!!(NOTE* I don't really mean that but my Daughter(30) won't be comming here till Christmas)

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  8. Also instead of little Buckets get some Doily's forld in half make a Cone add a little hanger on some string number and fill...Advent calendar for less then Pottery Barn

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  9. Gah! I JUST blogged about doing the Elf on the Shelf. What are the odds? I also shared a fun tradition for families who don't "do" Santa Clause. You can check it out here: http://www.gettingthereblog.com/2010/11/elves-and-wise-men.html

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  10. We do the elf(this will be our 3rd year) google him. There are TONS of cute ideas that you can do and you and your hubby will get into it. There will also be a few mornings you forget and RUN outta bed before the kiddos wakes up to do something quick. :)

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  11. Fun!!!

    Love your blog -- I've been a reader for some time, but now that I have my own blog am finally an official follower.

    Visit me anytime :)

    Jenny
    www.simcoestreet.blogspot.com

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  12. 7 weeks away? Oh my. I hadn't thought of it like that!!

    I like to have Thanksgiving over before I think about Christmas. I feel like we tend to rush holidays so much that we don't get time to enjoy the one that we're celebrating for thinking about the next. But I had never thought about what would happen if I had unexpected things happen like you did.

    And if you're in FPU, why are you even going to a restauraunt? ;) Don't worry, I do it too. Eating out is one thing we've not given up completely. LOL Eating out once a week and going to football games is one thing my family loves to do together. I think Dave would understand. :)

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  13. I am already preparing too. Love the elf on a shelf, however it came about after my girls were older. We do have elves in our house though...they will be arriving Thanksgiving weekend! We do the 12 Days of Christmas here, the 12 days leading up to Christmas my girls each receive a small little something. We do this for my 92 year old mil too, and she loves it!!

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  14. I didn't get my cards out last year either! First time that ever happened to me and I've been thinking about starting to write them out early just so that I have them ready to go this year. I used to be so good ~ they were mailed every year on December 2nd! I'm kind of feeling a lull right now, but my kids are grown up so I don't have little ones like yours {and my granddaughter is only 3 months old}.

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  15. OH! I ripped that same picture of the advent calendar out of my PB catalog and posted it to my inspiration board and then just last night I said to hubs..."Hey honey I need some big sticks..." I can't wait to make it! I thought it was adorable too!

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  16. I'm hyperventilating a little bit after reading that Christmas is only 7 weeks away. Yikes!!! I have a long list of people and not many presents bought...not sure what to get this year. :s

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  17. I've already started on the PB Advent project... :) After school, haircuts and work we are going to go cut the branches. The "buckets" will be origami w/ paperclip "handles" from old newspapers/letters/decorative papers.

    Hope you had a great weekend of marching band!! Was it BOA? Friends of ours competed but we didn't! Have fun!!

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  18. I've already started on the PB Advent project... :) After school, haircuts and work we are going to go cut the branches. The "buckets" will be origami w/ paperclip "handles" from old newspapers/letters/decorative papers.

    Hope you had a great weekend of marching band!! Was it BOA? Friends of ours competed but we didn't! Have fun!!

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  19. Oh my gosh, I LOVE those advent calendars. I would think that stick and bucket looking one could be made waaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper! This year I'm going for the gold. Our apt complex gives a 100 dollar voucher towards rent for the best Christmas porch display. Because I feel bad that not everyone celebrates X-Mas, I'm doing a winter display. I'm trying to make it as cheap as possible which means dollar tree and JoAnn's 50% off stuff. lol.

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  20. 7 weeks away! Wow! But I love Christmas so that's really okay. Love advent calendars but have never made one myself - perhaps this is the year to start.:) My very most favourite things to put up are the fairy lights. They're the last to come down too!

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  21. I had the same reaction about the PB buckets. Someone is making this right now! But, oh to fill it up...

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  22. Gorgeous homes! Love the cabinets...wouldn't last 2 seconds in my home! ha ha ha...no really. My cabinets are maple with a spice stain and are slightly "distressed" the natural way (a.k.a. my grandson). Every single mark is a memory! =)

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  23. What great advent calendars! The branches and pails one is sooooo cute!

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  24. I'm in the same boat as you when it comes to toy overload. My son's third bithday is in early January. PLUS, I have a four-year-old daughter. I actually started the toy purge this past weekend, and it feels GREAT!

    I also have all my shopping done except for stockings, and I started my wrapping this past weekend. My goal is to be DONE with gifts before December 1. Then, I can just enjoy the prettiness of the season and (hopefully) not be so stressed out!!

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  25. I was also wondering if it was BOA cause my husband works there. :) Had to be at LOS at 4 am.

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  26. While living on the warm Gulf Coast our family tradtion was to put up the Christmas tree as a family, but we would crank up the A/C and put on (unneeded) sweaters while listening to carrols. I'm interested to see what living in the much colder central Illinois will bring this year!

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  27. We did the Elf on a shelf but did a different brand.. My girls LOVE it, they still talk about it all year long. We move him around and make him do silly things, like decorating the tree with their clothes, hanging on their fan in their room, getting out something to eat. They love it. :) Do it!

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  28. OK, you just made my ENTIRE holiday season (like, both Thanksgiving and Christmas) by introducing me to the Lego Advent Calendar. My son just turned 4 and has inherited ALL of his dad's and uncles' Legos (think: Tupperware boxes full) and this would be so absolutely perfect for him. I'm squealing in delight!

    Oh, and I've never seen the elf on the shelf - great idea! We'll have to implement that as well :)

    Thanks (as always) for all your awesome inspiration!

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  29. We love our little elf (Buddy). This will be the third year Santa sends him to our house. He shows up on Thanksgiving, then makes appearances all season long (he's tasked with watching our entire extended family, so we see him a lot over December).

    HIGHLY!!! RECOMMENDED!!!

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  30. The advent thing gave me the idea of creating one for my son and his family to give after thanksgiving. Filling it with wonderful little gifts for a different person each of the days. I will have to get busy...........so looking forward to this!

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  31. I just looked at that PB advent calendar last night and thought who would buy that???? As all the people mentioned about so many ways to make it inexpensively, can't wait to see them. As for Christmas traditions here... I started giving my children 3 gift (like the wisemen brought) years ago. My kids are grown now but we still do it and it makes things so much easier on me... not that I don't have as much shopping but I buy meaningful gifts, not a bunch of small junk. Also one of the coolest things that we do actually came out of a school project but you could totally do it yourself. My son's teacher had him send a letter to 12 family members or old family friends asking them to tell him about their memories of Christmas, how they celebrated and what their traditions were and then they made it into a book. I think I am going to go post about it, great idea and means so much to us! Check it out on my blog in a couple of days.

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  32. I already have return addressed a number of envelopes and am working on addressing them. My goal is by the day after Thanksgiving to have the cards done except for needing signed and notes written. That way you can write notes to more people.

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  33. I love doing the Christmas cards too! The day after Thanksgiving it is our tradition to do the decorating and address the cards {while eating loads of homemade Chex Mix}.

    I think I'll have to try that last advent calender. And I think you can buy some branches at Hobby Lobby. Or maybe I'll pick up some of our ugly branches and spray paint them.

    See you've got me all excited too!!

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  34. 7 weeks! WOW, I love the holidays too! Family traditions really are the best when you have kids.

    You are seriously amazing!

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  35. I'm just like you regarding sipping some hot cocoa and addressing our Christmas cards. I love it!

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  36. I love the advent calendars too. Going through the toys...ugh. I'm actually to the point where I hope my kids don't get anything new!! My truck is full of bags for Goodwill from my covert closet cleaning in the kid's rooms this weekend.

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  37. Sarah you read my mind about the advent calendars - I too have multiple versions throughout my house. But I did make a new one this year - a knock off of one from Garnet Hill. Here's a link to my newest, cheapest advent tree on my blog:

    http://thatsmyletter.blogspot.com/2010/11/is-for-advent-updated.html

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  38. LOVE your blog! I've been in holiday mode for weeks now :) My husband loves to tease me about it but with 35 people to feed for Thanksgiving and 6 kids, ages 9-7wks, to make Christmas special for, how can I not plan ahead. Thanks for all of the inspiration!!

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  39. I love advent calendars...as an adult I still appreciate a good countdown to something as awesome as Christmas! My hubs actually proposed using our advent calendar! It was the kind where you open a little door each day, and on Christmas Eve, there was a ring instead of a little ornament! Needless to say I don't think I can top that...but, when I was little we used to do the super cheap construction paper links and rip off one link each day, and we loved it! But that was before Pottery Barn and the never ending ideas they give us. I would LOVE to tackle that $300 one, but I'm not sure I have the patience for it. Maybe I'll check out some of these fine ideas I'm seeing in these links!

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  40. I LOVE the elf on a shelf idea! My daughter turns 4 in february and I definitely think she will have fun finding the elf every morning. Cute!

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  41. Hey,
    November is pancreatic cancer awareness month. I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer in '08. Just thought I'd share a website with you. They do funding for pancan awareness. I just did a 5K this weekend and we raised $57,000. There might be on near you :)

    http://www.pancan.org/purplestride/find_a_local_event.html

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  42. We got Elf on a Shelf (who the kids named "Elfin Elfa") last year as a gift, and you will LOVE IT! I think I have more fun finding the elf a new hiding spot after the kids go to bed each night! It's a new tradition I look forward to for years and years to come!

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  43. Definitely do the Elf! So fun and my hubby and I loved finding places for him to hide out each night. We did forget a few times after... ahem... a few too many holiday drinks but then we just told my daughter he must have liked where he was the day before. She totally bought it.

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  44. This post has motivated me to finally go outside and take down the spider web and ghosts. LOL!

    This post has also inpired me and gotten me that much more excited for Christmas!

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  45. I loved the PB felt advent tree a couple of years ago but couldn't imagine spending 70.00 on it, so I made my own:
    http://kgradias.blogspot.com/2008/11/our-advent-calendar.html

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  46. I love the holidays but they definitely sneak up on me. I haven't even started and Im already behind :)

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  47. My mom used to buy the chocolate countdowns to Christmas for the kids. Just too much chocolate. Love the countdowns you found.

    I am hoping and praying I am ready for the holidays. We all have the flu at my house. Just not getting much done lying in the recliner covered in a blanket. :(

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  48. I LOVE you for posting about the Lego Advent Calendar. The past 2 years I've wanted to get it for my husband and I never remember until like a week before Christmas and then I don't get it. But you saying something about it this early, I got on Amazon and it'll be here by the end of next week! Hurrah! I get to be awesome wife!

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  49. I made the Pottery Barn Tree felt advent calendar two years ago.. my kids absolutely loved it... I like to make a new advent calendar every year though.. because I am crazy like that..
    Here is the post I did two years ago on how I made the felt tree
    http://lukeandhailiegirl.blogspot.com/2008/12/countdown-to-christmas-begins.html

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  50. You've got me thinking Advent calendars now... That bucket one is wonderful!

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  51. I love decorating for Christmas. This is our 2nd Christmas here in our new home and I can't wait to get started trimming the place for the holidays. There are a lot of nooks & crannies for me to play with :o) Can't wait to see your ideas!

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  52. You just startled me a little bit. 7 weeks away??? It sure feels longer.....I don't have any specific traditions. We just do whatever strikes our fancy. And it always includes crafts of some kind!

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  53. May I suggest Decaf? No, just kidding. I know exactly what you are talking about. The mind goes into over-drive & the body is racing to keep up. I'm linking to a little helper that I started a couple of years ago that saves me so much time & frustration. I hope you will check it out.
    CAS

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  54. I am so looking forward to Christmas and this weekend I went to the Pottery Barn Kids store near my home and saw advent calender there. It is adorable and very well made.

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  55. I cannot believe the PB advent calendar price. I could do it with free sticks, twine, and spray painted buckets from Target Dollar Spot. EASY PEASY!

    Last year, I made a muffin tin advent calendar: http://lemonadegal.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/let-the-countdown-begin/
    Of course, I'm crazy so I'm making a different one this year. You know, in all my free time. :)

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  56. I just put my mom on the task of making my 2 year old (and me!!) the christmas tree advent calendar from PB kids! So far she has bought all the material and embellishments for under $10...you can do it! I am so excited to see the finished product. She is also taking it to the local embroidery shop to get our last name stitched on it for just a couple of bucks! That will put it over the TOP!!

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  57. I love advent calendars too:} I got both my son's the Playmobil advent calendars for a couple years, and I have to say that they are adorable {I LOVE Playmobil anyways with all the little accessories--kind of like a boy version of barbie's LOL}. Of course they have a girlie version too;} I got my oldest son the Lego advent last year and he loved it so we will probably go with that one again, they love the advent calendar tradition:} I love the elf on the shelf idea but have never sprung for it, not sure if I will or not. . .
    My oldest son is also born in December, so many presents all in one month:}

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  58. LOVE the bucket calendar! I actually have a box full of little metal pails that I just KNEW i'd find something to do with! A place that my hubby and I frequent serves their mini desserts in these little buckets and you get to take them home...i've been collecting for a few years - now i'll have to decide if I want to paint them or leave them "galvanized" and just peel off the logo sticker. Thanks so much for sharing that photo!

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  59. I highly recommend "Elf on a Shelf". We adopted Percy last year and he was a gianormous hit! We registered him on the EOAS website and a couple weeks ago Percy sent the kids an email telling them he'd be seeing them soon. Oh. my. mercy. I thought they were going to have a fit (and my taters are 5 & 8). He'll make his grand reappearance on Thanksgiving morning. I only wish I had done it years ago. Your Bub will lerb it.

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  60. For Christmas cards I take plain white paper and draw a simple Christmas tree or star something simple and then copy enough to send out. I use the simple two per each page. You can print opposite side with a simple Merry Christmas so all you have to do is have the kids sign their names. Sit down with my kids (3, 5, and 7) with coloring supplies and then they color to their hearts content. I keep it simple so all of them can do it. Staying in the lines is kind of a mute point right now and the white paper shows all of the Art. IF you wanted and had older kids, fancy craft paper would be great too. Then for the grandparents and close family the kids can make their own cards for a special surprise. I also last year took some red and green pipe cleaners, beads (the assorted big bag of over 500), and key ring tags (the round paper ones with metal on the outside taking off the key ring part). The kids threaded all the beads they wanted on there (I put one bead on the bottom as a stopper with one bead covering the twisted part of the pipe cleaner and the same after the kids where done putting all of the beads on there). Took the label (I glittered the edge with glue and red glitter) wrote date and to: (family member) and from :( kid) the kids would go and pick out each one from them and decide who it was for and that went with the card. The kids even wrapped them. This was a great and super interactive for the kids and the family loved them so now when the kids see them on the tree they can find the ones that they made. I can not wait to do this again this year.

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