The Reason for the Season: Teaching My Toddler How to Keep "Christ" in Christmas. (12 Days of Nativity With Free Printables)
Growing up as a child, my mom always had a very strong dislike for the term "X-Mas". She always said that the slang took the most important part out of the word, and helped the real focus of Christmas to get lost in the process. Her opinions on the matter spread to her children (or at least her oldest 😉 ), and with Emery being old enough this Christmas to actually understand more of what is going on, I wanted to make sure that I did everything that I could to teach her about the original Christmas story and the reason for the season.
As a way to start trying to teach Emery about the Christmas story, I found her this adorable wooden nativity set and got her a book that goes through a few of the basic nativity characters in rhyme, but I still felt like I needed something more to try and balance out the plethora of traditional Christmas activities that I knew we'd also be doing throughout the month. While talking with a girlfriend I got the idea to do a 12 Days of Christmas focused specifically around the Nativity. I loved the idea, but surprisingly had a really hard time finding anything on the internet that had what I felt like was the "full package" and was age appropriate for Emery. I knew that I wanted activities for each day for her to do as opposed to the traditional 12 gifts that is sometimes done, but also wanted to be able to focus on an individual person/part of the nativity on each of the 12 days. After a good amount of researching, I finally decided on a combination of resources found on the internet and a bit of my own creative juices to create a packet for Emery that I was happy with, so I thought I'd share it for anyone else that has toddler/pre-school aged kiddos and hopefully save you all a few hours of internet stress. 😉
For the activities, I was able to find an ADORABLE packet from Lovely Commotion on Teachers Pay Teachers that was filled with several play-based, tot/pre-school aged appropriate activities with all of the supplies and resources needed. I knew there was no way I was going to find or make anything better than what was in this packet, so I downloaded it and then took it on a flash drive to my local Office Max to get the activity pages printed in color on card stock. I don't have permissions to share the actual packet since the license I purchased is for personal use, but the cost to download the packet is only $6, and then I spent less than that to get everything printed (if you have a color printer than you don't even need to worry about that). The instructions in the packet are focused much more for teachers with classrooms of children, but once I had access to all the activities, I was able to fill in the rest myself to make it work for my 12 day project. To focus on the individual parts of the Nativity, I created these 12 individual cards to go into different envelopes with a specific activity from the purchased packet. Each card has a short rhyme talking about it's person/part in the Nativity and a relevant bible verse to reference. I can't take credit for the rhymes but couldn't find anywhere who to give credit to either so apologies for that, but I hand drew in all of the characters to match the packet to make it more fun for Emery and all of you, and then after a bit of cutting everything out, coloring in the cards, and separating it all into envelopes the packet was complete! We're going to start our 12 Day Nativity adventure on the fourteenth, and I'm so excited to be able to do the activities with Emery and hopefully give her the same appreciation that I do for the Christmas story.
If you'd like to put together your own 12 Day Nativity packet in time for the 14th, then all you'll need to do is pay for/download the activities from Lovely Commotion, and then print off these FREE-12 Days of Nativity cards that I put together for you, as well as a lesson plan that I put together showing the order that we're planning to use the cards, as well as the activity that we're planning to play that day and instructions on how to play. For anyone not wanting to pay for the actual packet of activities, feel free to still download and print my FREE Nativity cards, and have fun each day leading up to Christmas reading the rhyme and scripture for the day, and matching up the cards to your own nativity set at home! I hope that anyone who decides to join us in on these activities is able to have a fun time with them! We're still technically in our first week of December and although Emery already knows how to say "Santa", she will also say "baby" and point at the baby Jesus every time she sees one in a nativity or in her book. I LOVE all of the traditional Christmas celebrations and know that our holiday season will be filled with plenty of them, but hope that this will help to keep that dreaded "X" out of Christmas, and help us remember in the business of the holiday what Christmas is all about. ❤️
To download everything you'll need for your own 12 Days of Nativity:
dress + tights: baby gap | bow: little poppy co. | teddy bear: build a bear workshop
Christmas is without a doubt my favorite holiday, and with December officially being upon us I'm SO excited because it means that I can now more fully dive in to all of the festivities without the "less spirited" (cough, cough Kyle) getting on my case about starting Christmas too early. 😉 December is also one of my busiest times of the year with holiday preparations, and as much as I hate to admit it, I am that person that wants everything about my Christmas to be picture perfect. I want the pretty tree with the matching wrapped gifts, the cute holiday pictures, the Pinterest worthy Christmas cookies, the clean untouched snow on Christmas morning.... you get the picture. Last year I remember making a goal to avoid any unnecessary "holi-drama", and as much as I'd love to say that I only had to learn that lesson once, as the holiday prep started up this year I found myself getting flustered when I realized that having an able bodied toddler makes for a LOT more messes and crazy than I'd originally planned for in my ideal Christmas imagination. As we were putting up our Christmas tree this year, Emery was having the time of her life throwing all of the "balls" around the house, and although her enthusiasm was adorable to watch it definitely threw a wrench into my usual methodical tree decorating process. It was at that moment however that I realized that I had a choice. I could choose to get frustrated with Emery and the situation, or I could choose to laugh and embrace her sweet enthusiasm, and congratulate myself for thinking ahead of time five years back when I bought plastic ornaments instead of glass. 😜 This Christmas season I'll still be busy, but this year I want to work to make it a different, better type of busy. The more time goes by, I realize that the true joy of the holidays is found more in the people that we spend them with instead of everything else on the outside. We'll still keep plenty busy with all of the traditional Christmas activities, but this year I'm choosing to keep my focus much more on the family togetherness of the activities and much less on the prettiness of them. My family is my greatest gift, so this Christmas, I'm going to embrace them for everything that they are, toddler messes, tantrums, tree destroying tendencies and all, and hope to have it be one of our best, busiest Christmas's yet, spent with those we love the most. ❤️🎄
I hope that everyone has had a happy start to your holiday season!
I LOVE Thanksgiving and everything that it includes, but would be lying if I didn't admit that the idea of cooking a big Thanksgiving turkey and feast intimidates me to an extreme level. I can't even pick up a turkey at the grocery store without the vegetarian in me getting grossed out, but lucky for me we've had amazing friends to do a "Friends-giving" dinner with every year that we've been away from family, so for now I've been able to avoid the daunting turkey task. 😉 This year I got assigned to the table settings for our Thanksgiving feast, and was SO excited to have a November project to work on that didn't involve cooking for a huge group of people. Since dental school is still putting us at a "poor college student" level, I also had the challenge of making things look nice on a small budget. I ultimately decided to do a combination of actual dinnerware, some disposable items, and of course a little creative DIY touch to create something that will hopefully look really nice once all put together with everyone else's delicious cooking. 🙂 These cute little utensil holders are SO easy, quick, and inexpensive to make, and the best part about them is that they can be completely personalized to fit your own dinner table by printing them on different colored card stock, or even by adding extra ribbon, burlap, glitter, etc to fit your preference. As always, have fun with it and happy DIY-ing!
DIY: Thanksgiving utensil holders
skill level: easy | total cost: FREE! (or $5 max on paper) | Total Time: 30 min
Happy Halloween to all of our friends and family from your Waldo, Wenda, and Woof crew! We love to travel and take adventures together wherever and whenever we can, but have found over the last year that our biggest adventures have taken place close to home, watching our sweet little Emery (or Woof) run, grow, laugh, play, and enjoy toddler life to it's fullest extent. Emery has been loving all of the Halloween celebrations this year, and I've had SO much fun experiencing everything with her! So far to celebrate we've: gone to Boo at the Zoo, learned that Emery LOVES trick or treating and candy, threw a Halloween party for our dental school mom & baby friends, read Halloween books, went pumpkin picking, and had a fun family Halloween party with a few of our closer dental school friends. We (mostly I) also had absolutely no self-control when it came to picking just one costume for Emery this year, and in addition to our family Waldo get-up, also have dressed her up as Minnie Mouse and a black cat.
Kyle was the one to make the final call on our family costume this year, and I was pretty excited about his decision. I'd secretly wanted us to dress up as Waldo & Wenda for years before Emery came along, but making it a family costume with Emery too made it better than I think it ever could've been with just the two of us! These costumes were also ridiculously easy to put together since the main items to find where red & white striped shirts. The rest of the items were a combination of items we already had in our closets/some DIY work (My glasses are literally just my prescription glasses that I wear every day) and Amazon for a few other items to complete the look! Keeping the costumes simple helped to keep my stress levels low so that I could more fully enjoy the celebrations, and give more time and energy to Em's other two costumes. 😜 For any that read more for the creative/how-to aspect of this blog, here are the details for our costumes and where everything came from:
Kyle || beanie: originally from Amazon for last year's costume, with a white DIY yarn pom-pom sewn on top | shirt: Aeropostale (thrifted, because apparently rugby shirts have been "out" for about a decade 😆 ) | glasses: Target? We've had these ones for years as costume glasses but most stores carry something similar. walking stick: Amazon. We also tied a bunch of random items to the straps of Kyle's backpack for all the places that "Waldo" has visited.
Chelsea || beanie & shirt: Gap | skirt: j.crew (thrifted) | purse: thrifted | socks: Amazon | scarf: Hobby Lobby | Boots: Nordstrom Rack. My favorite part of my costume this year was my red lipstick. I've made the mistake of wearing red lips on Halloween before and having them look absolutely wretched by the end of the night with fading/bleeding, so this year I was prepared and wore "Fly Girl" Lipsense and it worked like a charm! I don't sell it and this isn't sponsored, I'm just seriously obsessed with red lips and love that I have a way to wear them ALL day!
Emery || beanie: Amazon | onesie: Walmart | socks: Two Dreams Shop | moccs: Freshly Picked | glasses: completely DIY-ed and SO easy to make! All I did was pop the lenses out of an old pair of her sunglasses, then gave them a couple of coats of black acrylic paint and that's it! Also, the white jacket wasn't originally supposed to be a part of her costume, but Kentucky got hit with a crazy cold spell this past weekend and her onesie is short sleeved so...... jacket it is!
I know that actual Halloween is still a couple of days away, but the older Emery gets the more I find that living in the moment is absolutely necessary to be able to fully experience and appreciate it, and I don't want to miss a single one of these memories with my sweet little family. We'll be spending our end of October at a Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular to make up for us not carving any pumpkins, and then taking our sweet little Woof/Minnie/Black Cat (depending on what she most feels like that day 😜 ) trick-or-treating in our favorite neighborhood with friends. I'm so excited for the celebrations ahead and the time we'll have together as a family!
We hope that everyone has a fun and safe Halloween night with those you love most!
In my opinion, one of the best things about fall and the approaching holiday season is that it also means the beginning of holiday parties and get-togethers with good friends. Since party planning happens to be one of my favorite hobbies to indulge in, I've been entertaining the idea of throwing some sort of Halloween party in my head since our pool closed on Labor Day. 😜 With all of the different fall festivals and activities available on the weekend's and evenings here in Louisville, I got the idea to throw a party during the day so that it wouldn't conflict with all of the other events. Since everyone's husbands are gone at dental school during the daytime, this specific party was able to be put together completely for the benefit of all of the dental school baby & mama friends that Emery and I have come to love and appreciate so much over these past couple of years. Everyone came together for games and Halloween themed treats to celebrate the holiday and each other, and we had a "spook"-tacular time!
Since our dental school baby age range runs from a couple of months to 4 years old, I tried to keep the food and game options at a level that babies and toddler aged kids could really enjoy and get into. For food we had PB&J sandwiches cut into bat and pumpkin shapes (thus eliminating the gross crust AND making them fun to eat), mummy-wrapped applesauce pouches, string cheese ghosts, jack-o-lantern clementines, candy corn cupcakes, and a fun harvest Chex Mix that was equally adorable and delicious. I'd love to take credit for all of the cute food ideas, but found the majority of the food inspiration on Pinterest, so to give credit to the original creators of these fun lunch treats, links to the individual posts (with recipes & tutorials) are all included for your benefit! I was able to get a little more original with the Halloween games that we played, and included pumpkin painting (mini Trader Joe's pumpkins with Crayola washable, non-toxic finger paints), pin the bowtie on the skeleton, the classic "doughnut on a string" game but with miniature doughnuts for toddler-sized mouths, and a Halloween bowling game made from empty cans and acrylic paint on my part to make the pins look like classic Halloween characters. I also included a few store-bought games from Target like a Halloween matching game, monster face stickers on paper cups, a soft pumpkin toss game, and bubbles so that even the littlest of guests could participate and enjoy.
Overall the party was SO much fun, and I'm so so glad that so many of our sweet friends were able to make it out to celebrate with us (the picture below is missing a few mamas that had to leave early). I'm also EXTREMELY grateful for all of my sweet girlfriends that offered up help to make the party come together. The cupcakes, clementines, and Chex Mix were all made by a few of the sweet mamas below, and the day before/morning of the party I had a couple of my girlfriends over at my house sacrificing their alone time during their kiddo's naps to help me put together the rest of the last minute details. These amazing girls are what makes this dental school journey not only bearable but even enjoyable, and I know that these friendships are some that I'll cherish literally for the rest of my life. Thank you so much to all of those that came and especially all of those that helped! Em & I love & appreciate you all so much! ❤️
I'm Chelsea. I'm a wife, mommy, photographer, and lover of life's little adventures. Join me here to celebrate the beautiful things in people and life.