Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dollar Bill Game for New Years

The Dollar Bill game- To play, pin a dollar bill to everyone's shirt and decide on something that is not 'allowed' such as saying a certain word, scratching your face, playing with hair, etc. Throughout the night, if anyone catches someone doing something that is not allowed, they get the dollar bill and pin it to their shirt. At midnight, whatever money you have on you, you get to keep!

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year's Traditions

In honor of New Years Eve coming up, this week's posts will be dedicated to New Year's traditions. It's not too late to send in your ideas! Melking1@gmail.com

Banging pots and pans
We love to grab any and all pots, pans, and spoons from the cupboards to bang at midnight! This may seem a little wierd, but it is one of our favorite traditions that we do every year. We run up and down the streets yelling, "Happy New Year" and our neighbors even look forward to this now. :) If you don't want your nice stuff to get ruined, consider buying some cheap wooden spoons from the dollar store or use metal ones that won't break.

For a long list of New Year's ideas, check out a post I wrote as a guest blogger on Or So She Says here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Don't forget

After-Christmas sales are a great time to stock up on festive things such as holiday decorations, ornaments, paper goods, wrapping paper, etc for next year! You will pay a lot less now than waiting for next Christmas season.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Hope you had a festive Christmas season!

Keep those ideas coming...stay tuned for New Years and other holiday ideas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last minute Christmas Ideas

Welcome Or So She Says fans! Become a follower! As soon as there are 100 followers, there will be a the first ever So Festive! Giveaway

New Years traditions wanted! Send an email to melking1@gmail.com
or let me know if you want to be a guest blogger :)

Only 2 days left until Christmas. If you are like my family growing up, we were still doing shopping until the stores kicked us out on Christmas Eve. Now that I have my own family, I tried really hard to get all my shopping done early so that I could the festivities that this season has to offer.

If you are still scrambling for gift ideas and don't have a lot of time, consider gift cards. They are quick to pick up and then you won't have to worry about finding the 'perfect' gift. You can get a gift card to their favorite restaurant, sporting good store, kitchen store, or craft store. Since they are buying gifts after Christmas, they may even be able to cash in on all the great after-Christmas sales.

If a gift card is too generic or 'not thoughtful' enough, you could make them a coupon good for: a special outing to a movie or restaurant. Or, make them a handmade coupon book with all sorts of fun redeemable gifts. Time is priceless. And to your spouse, child, sibling or parents/in-laws, they will love knowing they get an outing with you in the future.

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Adam

It may be a little cheesy, but in my family we call December 23rd "Christmas Adam" because it is the day before "Christmas Eve". We love to gather tons of sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets and have a giant sleepover in the family room. Of course, we stay up as late as we can watching all the Christmas movies we still haven't seen. It is our last chance to sleep by the Christmas tree because obviously we can't sleep out when Santa comes :)

Friday, December 18, 2009


New Year's Traditions/Activities Wanted! Send an email to melking1@gmail.com

Bundle up and go caroling! It's a simple activity that will surely put you in the Christmas mood. For even more fun, dress up like old-fashioned carolers.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gingerbread Houses

New Year's Traditions/Activities Wanted! Send an email to melking1@gmail.com

Making gingerbread houses was a tradition I always wanted to do, but I think the fact that my parents had 7 kids to shop for and the fact that we did so many other Christmas activities was why we never quite got around to making them.

But while I was a nanny in Germany, I spent Christmas with some relatives in Switzerland. And if I was ever deprived of making gingerbread houses, well, making them there made up for it. For you see, they don't just make graham cracker houses. They go all out--collecting different crackers, cookies, candies, and extra things to make the houses immaculate. We spent over 3 days working on them. I realize that I will probably never have the time again to spend 3 days on a gingerbread house, but this is what spending 3 days can do:

Isn't this one amazing? This was my aunt's. She is an artist. Can you tell? I put the Jones sign in the yard because I felt like I had to keep up with hers. Here is what mine turned out like:

Considering it was my first, I was pretty excited. I loved the bay window with a Christmas tree in it :)

However, back in reality making any gingerbread house is better than nothing. It is so fun to see what everyone comes up with. I love that my husband's family has a tradition to make gingerbread houses every year. We made them this last weekend and it was so fun! All we used was graham crackers and old candy. My mother-in-law made the perfect frosting to keep it all together and she was kind enough to share it:

Gingerbread House Frosting
2 egg whites
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. water
3 cups of powdered sugar

Whip egg whites, cream of tartar and water together for a couple of minutes, until a little frothy. Add powdered sugar and beat until combined and fluffy.

Have fun! Let's see what you come up with!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hay in a Manger

Although I don't have children yet, I am excited to do this tradition when I do. We had a wooden manger in our living room by the nativity set that looked similar to the one pictured above. There was also a can all cutesied-up that had pieces of hay/straw in it. When one of us 7 children did something kind for someone else, we got to place a piece of hay in the manger.

The goal was to have the manger nice and comfy by the time Christmas morning would come so that baby Jesus would have a nice place to sleep when he was born :) If we were mean or did something unkind, one of our siblings would enforce that we remove a piece of hay. I am sure my Mom loved this tradition to not only keep up in line, but also to help us remember why we celebrate Christmas. On Christmas morning before opening gifts and seeing what Santa brought, we would place Jesus in his hopefully comfortable bed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Sugar Cookies

Let's be honest. Sugar cookies=festive. I just love making sugar cookies for holidays and especially love using holiday-shaped cookie cutters. The other day I made some Christmas Sugar Cookies and they turned out delightful. Here's the Recipe: (The full batch makes 100 cookies, so I just halved the recipe.)

Sugar Cookies
What you'll need:
1 lb. margarine, 2 cups sugar, 3 eggs, 2 tsp. vanilla, 6 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt

Cream eggs, butter, and sugar first. Add remaining ingredients one at a time. Refrigerate dough for a few hours or overnight. Roll the dough on a floured surface and cut into holiday shapes. Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes or longer if you want them crispier.

And if you are like me and do not like store-bought frosting, try this recipe out. It's a winner:

Sugar Cookie Frosting

What you'll need:
1/4 c. margarine, 1/4 c. milk, 3/4 lb. powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla (for chocolate frosting, add 1/4 c. cocoa)

Beat all ingredients until creamy. Add food coloring for different colors.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Eve Letter to Santa

It's tradition to write letters to Santa well before Chrismtas, but in our family, we also write a letter to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. This was a tradition my mom did when she was a little girl and we still do it to this day.

After we have put on our new pajamas that we get Christmas Eve, we sit in the family room and write a letter to Santa. When we were younger, we would ask for toys and things, but now that we are older, writing this letter has become hilarious! We will ask for boyfriends or a diamond ring or fun things like that to make it interesting. Sometimes we even video it for fun memories later on.

Everyone gets a turn to say what they want to Santa and then we always end with saying that we would be happy with anything and we love Surprises!

Then, we put the letter in a pie tin. We burn it and sprinkle the ashes over the deck onto the snow. When Santa comes, he magically puts the letter together and reads what we want before leaving our gifts.

I know when I have told this tradition to some people, they think it is the wierdest thing ever! But, it has been a tradition in our family that we love so much we have even carried it on when each of us was living abroad.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Among other Christmas Eve activities we did, we would do a 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' present exchange. My mom would buy $1 or less gifts and all of the kids would sit in a circle holding one of the wrapped gifts. She would read "The Night Before Christmas" to us, but as she did, every time we heard the word the we would pass the present to the right. Whichever gift we had at the end of the story was what we got to keep. This would also be fun for a White Elephant gift exchange at a Christmas party.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Gifts to Jesus" box

Another one from Courtney...One tradition that is kind of neat is our "GIFT to JESUS" box. We always had this shiny present wrapped under the tree and on Christmas Day after all the presents were opened, we would have to write down a gift that we were going to give to Jesus that year (kind of like a new years resolution). An example could be reading scriptures daily or doing a small act of service for someone daily. It was fun to look back and see what the previous year's gift was and to reflect on how well we did.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Eve Fort Sleepover

One thing my family and I did growing up was to make forts. All the kids (there were 5 of us) slept in it on Christmas Eve up until we started getting married! In the morning, my mom would come and get us and take us one by one to the entry way of the living room, where the Christmas tree and all our presents were set out. We had to keep our eyes closed. She lined all of us up and we were just giddy in anticipation. On the count of 3, we could open our eyes and dash for our stockings (which was spaced out in different areas on the couches) and Santa present (which would be laid out, unwrapped, in front of our stocking). Thanks Courtney for this idea!

Monday, December 7, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Idea

Here is a fun 12 Days of Christmas idea. All of the gifts are common things you would able to find easily like hot cocoa, popcorn, rice krispy treats, Christmas story, etc. Click here for the complete list. There is even a cute little poem to go with each day.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

From Leslie: Movie idea & Christmas Beds

Thanks Leslie for this idea! On December 1st (but it wouldn't be too late), she put Christmas quilts and pillowcases on her kids' beds and gave them this new holiday movie which she highly recommends: Wonder Pets Save the Nutcracker!

Happy St. Nicholas Day

Today is St. Nicholas Day. This was yet another tradition I became familiar with in Europe. It is always celebrated on December 6th. The tradition is to put out your shoe on December 5th and then St. Nicholas will leave a SMALL gift or treat in your shoe.

There are many similarities between St. Nicholas and Santa. St. Nicholas brings gifts in the night, but unlike Santa who travels with reindeer, St. Nicholas travels on horse so the children may want to leave a carrot or apple in the shoe for his horse. He was also known for his secret gift giving and did many things for children. For more info about St. Nicholas click here

This is meant to be a simple celebration just to add some extra cheer during the season.

We left our shoes out on December 5th and woke up to this:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Scripture Advent: Keep Christ in Christmas

With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we enjoy taking time each day to read scriptures from the Bible to help us remember why we celebrate Christmas. I have a friend who burns an advent candle to a certain line each night as they read these scriptures. You can buy advent candles or like my friend, you could mark 24 dots on the candle with a marker. Thanks Heather for the idea!

I should have posted this at the beginning of December, but I just figured out a way to post this so it would be user friendly for you. Better late than never :)

Click here for the complete list to print or save.

Countdown Chains

Last year we made chocolate countdown chains. They were so simple to make. You take a long piece of plastic wrap and equally place 24 pieces of chocolate (or other treats) on the plastic. Wrap up the ends of the saran wrap to cover the treats. Take pieces of ribbon to tie off each piece. Then each day you have a treat to count your way to Christmas with.

This year we decided to try something different. We made paper chains, but added a twist to it. We each took equal number of paper strips and wrote different Christmas oriented activities like drive to see lights, read a Christmas story, doorbell ditch a treat on someone's doorstep, shop for an ornament, etc. But neither of us could see what the other person wrote. Then we mixed them all up and put the chain together without looking to see what was on the inside of each strip.
Now, when we cut off the chain piece in the morning, we have a fun Christmas activity that we have to do sometime that day. We cut them off in the morning so we can arrange our schedules to fit it in.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

French Beignets

My parents visited a french cafe called Cafe du Monde in New Orleans while on a business trip before I even remember. They fell in love with the beignets (french doughnuts) served there and brought back the mix so we could make our own. This has become our Christmas morning breakfast along with bacon, scrambled eggs, and hash browns. They are so good! You can order the mix directly online at Cafe du Monde's website here. The mix is only about $2.50 per box. Shipping is pricey, but if you order by quantity, its quite a bit cheaper and the total box price comes to $3 something. Considering it makes at least 2-3 breakfasts worth, that's a good deal! And hey, you can even stop by our house on Christmas morning and try them!

I Believe In Santa Claus

I love, love, love this book! I love it because it shows how the time honored Santa Claus is meant to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. Check it out from the library or you can buy it on Amazon for $10.85 here

Simple Christmas Activity

Grab your spouse, children, roommates, or significant other for a fun, but lo-key Christmas activity: driving to see the lights. Check out what the nearby neighborhoods have to offer.

If that isn't enough, check out local parks and centers for Christmas light displays.

This activity is perfect because it can take 10 minutes or 2 hours and you can enjoy festivities from your warm car.

English Toffee

A Christmas Favorite!

What you'll need: 1 lb. butter, 1 cup water, 2 1/2 cups sugar, 4 Tablespoons light corn syrup, semi-sweet chocolate chips, candy thermometer

Melt the butter. Add the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate chips. Cook until the mixture reaches 285 on a candy thermometer. Then place in a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle chocolate chips on the top and spread with a bowl scraper. (They will melt). You can also sprinkle nuts on top if you like nuts.

Ornament Exchange

This cute lady in my neighborhood last year organized an ornament exchange. Each person was to bring 8 handmade ornaments. We had about a month to do it and then we got together on a Saturday afternoon and exchanged ornaments with each other. It was fun to get new ideas and to come home with 7 new ornaments. This could also be a fun idea to do with handmade Christmas cards.

Ornament Tradition

I know lots of people that get a new ornament each year for Christmas. I have heard the parents getting their children an ornament that signifies something they have done or like for that year. My family also did this, however, the ornaments we received were always tin ornaments.

They are hard to find, but it's possible. We have a living room tree with all the tin ornaments and then a family room tree with all the random ornaments we have made in school, etc. Now that I have my own little family, it is fun to have a collection of tin ornaments to decorate my own tree with.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

If you don't have a fireplace...

We don't have a cute mantle to hang our stockings from (and probabaly won't for a while), but I still wanted it to be cute and festive. So I have hung our stockings from a mirror with hooks, put a little garland around it and made a sign that says, "The Stockings Were Hung".

I have had the mirror for a few years, but it is only about $20 at Wal-Mart and the sign was a sign I found at the thrift store. I repainted it red, painted some letters creme that came in a package at Dollar Tree and put it together. That simple and it doesn't make me so disappointed that we don't have a fireplace.

Advent Wreath tradition

When I was a nanny in Germany, I was introduced to the Christmas tradition of the Advent Wreath. On each of the 4 Sundays before Christmas, you light a candle on the advent wreath (or 2 for the 2nd Sunday, etc) and do a Christmas thing. The wreath signifies eternal life and love and the candles signify the light of Christ. One of my favorite memories of Christmas in Germany was gathering in the living room and singing Christmas songs while the Advent candle was burning. I love that the purpose of celebrating it is to remember the true meaning of Christmas. I found an advent wreath at a thrift store, but you can buy them online or you can use candles for the same magical affect.

Christmas Eve Pajamas

As a child, I looked forward to Christmas Eve because we got to open one of our presents...and even though 99% of the time it was new pajamas, I still got really excited. Don't forget to take a picture...this is just one of the classic shots we get every year.

Christmas Jars-a sweat read and tradition

I read this book for the first time a few years ago and loved it! I have re-read it every Christmas since because it is just such an inspiring story. (And trust me, I am not a big reader). I don't want to give the story line away, but if you are in the mood for a quick, heartwarming read, give this a try. It will bring the true Christmas spirit into your holidays.

And, if you want to carry on your own Christmas Jar tradition, start collecting your spare change in a glass jar. I got really festive this year and glass-etched on ours, but any jar will do.

We save all of our spare change from the year and then at Christmas we choose someone or a family to give the money to or we use the money to buy gifts. This is one of my favorite traditions.

Christmas Eve Cream Cheese Chicken

It's a tradition in my family to have a candlelight Christmas Eve dinner of Cream Cheese Chicken. The best part of this meal is that its delicious, but simple. It can be cooking in the crock-pot while you are doing last minute shopping!

What you'll need: 2 1/2-3 lbs. chicken breasts, 1 package Good Seasons dry Italian dressing mix, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese

Place chicken breasts in the crock-pot. Sprinkle Italian dressing mix over the chicken. Cook 2-4 hours on high (or 5-6 hours on low). Just before the chicken is cooked, mix the cream of mushroom soup and cream cheese together. When the chicken is done, do not drain the liquid. Add soup mixture to the chicken and heat thoroughly. Serve over rice. Serves 6+

Hot Chocolate with Grasshopper Cookies

Cold winter nights call for Hot Chocolate, or as my mom would call it, hot totty. Here is a way to jazz up your cocoa:

What you'll need: Grasshopper cookies, hot chocolate

1. Make a cup of hot chocolate as normal.

2. Bite off 2 corners from your Grasshopper cookie (the corners must be diagonal from each other).

3. Stick the Grasshopper cookie into your cocoa with one bitten corner in your mouth and the other in the hot chocolate.

4. Slurp your hot chocolate for 3-4 seconds through the cookie.

5. Quickly pull the cookie out and put it in your mouth. It will dissolve instantly and you will get a warm savory taste!

6. Repeat. And I promise, you will want to repeat. :)

Favorite Christmas Movies

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite Christmas movies. Which ones am I missing?

-How the Grinch Stole Christmas
-White Christmas
-It's a Wonderful Life
-Miracle on 34th Street
-Charlie Brown's Christmas
-Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
-Frosty and Frosty Returns
-I'll Be Home for Christmas
-The Santa Claus
-One Magic Christmas
-Jingle All the Way
-A Christmas Carol
-The Polar Express
-Home Alone
-A Christmas Story

Christmas Story Countdown

My friend Andrea gets the credit for telling me about this fun tradition. Her mom would wrap up 12-24 Christmas stories and put them under the Christmas tree. Each day, a sibling would get to choose a wrapped book from under the tree and open it. Then her whole family would read the story together.

I love this idea because I don't know about you, but we had TONS of Christmas books that we would never even touch during the holidays. This tradition helps you to get through all of them and what a fun thing to do together as a family.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Kick-off

Kick-off the Christmas season by doing something special on December 1st. You could:

-Have a candlelight dinner
-Make countdown chains (later post on this to come)
-Watch a Christmas movie
-Decorate your tree
-Read a Christmas story

Pick anything that will help you get in the Christmas mood. Our Christmas Kick-off consisted of:

eating yummy Jello popcorn (click here for the recipe) and watching some of the Christmas Classics like "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"


welcome to SO FESTIVE! I owe my festiveness to my mom who made every holiday fun and festive despite the fact that there were 7 children in my family and we didn't always have a ton of money to do elaborate things. Although most of them were simple, they have become traditions and memories that live on.

In honor of her (she passed away in 2001), this blog will be a place to collect holiday ideas and traditions. Please share your favorite holiday activities, ideas, recipes, traditions, etc so that we can all be a little bit more festive. Enjoy!
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