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Archive for Holiday Traditions

December Bucket List: Got Purple Santa?

December Bucket List IdeasHmmm. December bucket list? Got Purple Santa? Just a reminder that this weekend it is FREE to download on Kindle. Or if you want to skip that and order, we like that too. 😉 You can do that here. So check it out and see if you want to add some of our activities to your December Bucket List once you get the hard copy version. Meanwhile I decided to get busy with my own December Bucket List! Should I really do it this time? Make a purple tree?December Bucket List purple-tree

I decided this year to get a head start on my December Bucket List.  I was kind of late last year not thinking about it until December was half way over.  But this year I am sitting in a warmer than what I find appropriate climate for November and I am dreaming of December activities.  Before I get too far- Let me say that number one on my list is of course to read A December Bucket List. I suppose that goes without saying. So I’m ready to get to it.  Some are repeats. Some are new hopeful ideas. I hope you enjoy!

1)Find a great new holiday read aloud. I know Mariah Carey has one. And there is a new Eloise one. I’m sure there is something waiting for me to find it, but I’m determined to find it.  For me Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) was new last year, but if it is new to you it is free this weekend on Kindle I still love the original Night Before Christmas and Snowmen at Night! I can’t wait to find a new one!
2)Make Christmas Pajama pants for everyone to have on Christmas Eve. I don’t know if I will get there but I found a great post that might lead to a short cut! Check it out!December bucket list: Making pajama pants

 

3)String cranberries and popcorn for the tree.  This always puts such magic on our tree. And the chatter as we do it is so much fun!  It’s like baking cookies but without feeling guilty for eating all the dough! Just buy fresh cranberries, pop the popcorn the old fashioned way on the stove, get needle and thread and away you go.

4)Make a silly family Christmas card. December Bucket List: This year I'm making a fun family Christmas Card. Sending Christmas cards is such a hassle. But I really want to work on sending one out and making it fun! I wonder if I can get as creative as these folks?

5)Have a cookie exchange! December Bucket List: Host a cookie exchangeI’m getting started early and I’ve done it before.  Wouldn’t it be fun to bring SANTA’S JUST NOT RIGHT CHRISTMAS COOKIES.  Need I say more?  Baking is on most everyone’s December Bucket list! And having a cookie exchange is such an easy short cut. Yum and fun!  Every year we love to bake cookies, but of course I will have to bake the special ones that were created just for us. Recipe here! And won’t it be fun to serve grown up milk?December Bucket List: Santa's Just Not Right Christmas Cookies

6)Go sledding.  December Bucket List: Go SleddingOr on a sleigh or hay ride. Or horse and carriage ride.  Whatever the vehicle, it is always a special night out! What December Bucket list treat!

7)Have a Santa party.  We used to do this when the kids were little.  We had a very special Santa who would stop by.  Every parent would secretly leave a wrapped gift with their child’s name on it on our front porch.  Then a little bit into the evening Santa would arrive, gather the presents, put them in his bag, and then come inside and deliver them.  It was such delight to see the kids light up when Santa came with something they wanted and delivered it in person.  I need to do this again soon!

8)Make a Gingerbread house.  Darn it.  I’ve not done this one STILL.  Oh how I want to try!

9) Have a popcorn party and serve hot cocoa from scratch for either a Christmas book reading night, or movie night. (check out December Bucket List: Make pink popcorn to go along with all the other zany ideas in our book Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)this yummy pink popcorn which will go perfectly with the zany upside down antics of Santa’s Night Before Christmas….) Pink Popcorn December Bucket List: Have a popcorn partyOf course there isn’t much better than fresh regular popcorn popped in oil drizzled in fresh butter and salt right on the stove either.  And I’ve been making popcorn cakes for years, but I may have to all of try these on for size this year. December Bucket List: Have a popcorn partyIn my opinion Emeril’s popcorn cake is the best. This is the one I like to make.

December Bucket List: Have a bring your toppings pizza party10)Have a bring your own toppings pizza party.  I want to have a pizza party and serve cool holiday pizzas! I’ve seen snowmen and trees. Maybe we can watch the “old” Peanuts specials! I could invite folks and I can provide the crust and they can bring the toppings! How hard can it be?

11)Build a snowman.  I saw one already this year and I was jealous! Maybe I can finally build an upside down one, like in the book. Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) December Bucket List: Build a snowman

12)Drive around and look at Christmas Lights! This goes on every year! With the internet and  mapping so easy at our fingertips, we can look them up and really go find the great ones!  Maybe there is an app for that!?!? I’m thinking of making it into a game.  Maybe tied in with the scavenger hunt idea below.

13)Christmas Scavenger Hunt– I have been determined to do this for years.  It’s something we used to do often as kids. December Bucket List: Go on a scavenger huntThere are lots of places to find lists and riddles on the internet.  So many ways to do it, easy or really complicated. Can’t wait to try this one out!  Here is an easy one I liked. There are ones you can incorporate with the light watching and more and more. Sounds so much fun!

14)Hang Mistletoe– I’ve never done it.  But I really want to this year.December Bucket List: Hang Mistletoe

15) Set an amazing Christmas table. I am no Martha Stewart. And it may use paper plates. But just once I’d like to do something a little over the top. I love this idea I found of folding the napkins into trees. Festive! I found it here.December Bucket List: Set an amazing Christmas Table

17) Make ornaments and decorate a tree– and enjoy it!  Do I really need to put it on the December Bucket list? No, but somehow over the years this has turned into a chore instead of something to be enjoyed.  I said this one last year, but I think it might need to be said again. I want to get back to making it a festive afternoon or evening. Maybe starting with going to pick out the tree together as a family!

18)Take a special family photo– This is different than the card. This is for our own documentation. Christmas is a great time to document the years as they go by.  Maybe do something extra special each year, or maybe record it the same.  Just make sure you do it!

19)Start a new holiday tradition. Years ago we started making cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve so they would be ready on Christmas morning. December Bucket List: Start a new tradition like making homemade cinnamon rollsFor other ideas see my blog post on that. But I assure you your family will remember. So I’m looking for a new one, but if you want to try the cinnamon rolls this looks promising. It’s a knock off of Cinnabon, and who doesn’t like those?

20)Make homemade simmering potpourri- December Bucket List: Make Simmering PotpourriI love candles, but since I’m starting earlier this year wouldn’t it be nice to try something fresh and not artificial?  Google and I are going to have a date.

Whew! That’s a lot to tackle.  I’m glad I got started earlier this year! What are you going to do?

I reserve the right to expand this December Bucket List……….and it may take me some years to get to them all, but I am so excited to start trying, AGAIN!

Don’t forget if you want to discover our purple Santa, this weekend is FREE on Kindle.

 

Purple Christmas Cookies Revisited

Purple Christmas cookies revisited.  Why you might ask? So many great things have happened since we released this book. But probably my very favorite must be the delicious cookies developed by one enthused reader.  And since this weekend we have a great special going on it is a perfect time to check our book out.  So get your FREE Kindle version of the book this weekend, and see what activities you dream up to go with it.  We would love to hear from you! Got Purple Santa? #BlackFridayin3words #GotPurpleSanta  Meanwhile, enjoy this one again!

Baking in the classroom: Santa's Just Not Right Christmas Cookies

Purple Christmas Cookies Revisited – to go along with our book!

Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies??  Ever since we began dreaming of all the things that would go wrong with Christmas if Santa’s suit turned purple, the ideas have snowballed.  You can see many of them of course in the book.  Like upside down snowmen, and jets instead of sleighs.  We imagined tea and honey instead of milk and cookies.  But the things that we have imagined are probably only just beginning.  We challenge you to come up with your own zany, wacky inspirations of how Christmas might be different.  We challenge you to do them at home. We challenge you to use them in the classroom.  And this week, one very inspired reviewer has done just that! Check out Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas cookies!  They have made it to our recent December Bucket List for sure!  And they easily can be used in the classroom for an art project and a fun Santa’s Night Before Christmas Cookie party!  We just want to run to the kitchen and get baking.  We’ve posted enough to get you started, but please for full recipe (and many other fun recipes!) please see A Mama, Baby, and Sharpei!  If you need a copy of the book to go along with these treats, of course you can get more information about the hardback, or kindle on the Book page here.

SANTA’S JUST NOT RIGHT CHRISTMAS COOKIES
INGREDIENTS:                                                                           yields 2-3 dozen cookies

  • 1 C Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1.5 C Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2.5 C All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • Purple Food Coloring (I recommend gel coloring)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar together with the paddle attachment on low-speed so that the sugar doesn’t fly up in a cloud. Once the sugar has been mostly incorporated into the butter, turn up the speed, beating the butter mixture until it is creamy and thoroughly incorporated.

Then add the egg to the butter mixture, beating until just incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and baking soda and once that is thoroughly mixed in, add the flour, one cup at a time until it is all mixed in. This creates a batter-like dough that will be very soft. Dab in the purple food coloring and mix at a low-speed, or by hand, until the entire dough is colored to your liking. Remember that the color will brighten as it rests in the fridge.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead it into a soft ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour while kneading. Transfer the dough to a wax-paper lined plate, then press another piece of wax paper on top of the dough, flattening it into a round disc, the size of the plate between the two sheets of wax paper. Tuck the extra ends of the wax paper under the dough disc to keep the dough from drying out. Place the dough in the fridge for at least three hours or overnight to firm-up.

Once it has rested in the refrigerator, tear off a one-third section of the dough and place it on a floured work surface and keep the rest of the dough in the fridge. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper and pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness, making sure to flip the dough to keep it floured or it will stick to the work surface. *I prefer a 1/2 inch thickness in a roll-out cookie because they will remain soft and fluffy, even after decorating. If you prefer a more crisp cookie, I recommend rolling the dough to a 3/8 inch thickness*

Use a cookie cutter to cut the desired shapes. Place the cut cookies on the baking sheet, two inches apart as you prepare them. Once the baking sheet is full, place it in the oven and bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until the edges just start to darken. If you try to lift the cookies and they are still very soft, give them another minute or two. Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack until they are cooled to room temperature. Repeat with the dough in the fridge until you have made all of the cookies you desire.

Now on to decorating!! Use your imagination! We made a batch of Purple Royal Icing to pipe the details onto our cookies and to help our sprinkles and candy buttons and ornaments to stick to the cookies. But feel free to mix up any color you like and add any decorations you desire! I’ve included the recipe for the Royal Icing below which makes more than enough icing for 3 dozen cookies, we made just a half batch and still had plenty more icing leftover.  For full recipe for Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies again see …..A Mama, Baby, and Sharpei!Santa's Just Not Right Christmas cookies at home or in the classroom!

 

Great Christmas Eve Read Aloud: Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)

If you are looking for a great Christmas Eve Read Aloud to read to your family while you try to settle everyone down for bed, this is it. Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) It is a beautifully illustrated tale that has kids and adult laughing out loud.  If you have it on your December Bucket List to find a new book to add to your holiday book collection, you may have found one worthy of consideration!  December Bucket List: Find a new great read aloud for Christmas EveIf you haven’t got it already, this is a great chance.  We are still offering FREE Priority shipping today and tomorrow, in hopes that you will receive just in time for your holiday traditions.  I love reading our favorites year after year, and this is sure to become a favorite for many this year!  Order your book here!

And if you miss out on getting the hardback book delivered in time, you can always check out our interactive version which is really great fun for your iphone, or ipad!  Check it out here!  You will have the chance to break ornaments on the upside down tree, turn snowmen upside down, change Santa’s suit color, hear funny carolers, and listen to jets and bells ring.  It will even read the story out loud to you.  Not to be missed! Even the app makes a really great Christmas Eve read aloud!

 

Enjoy, and have a Merry Christmas!

 

Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies

Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies??  Ever since we began dreaming of all the things that would go wrong with Christmas if Santa’s suit turned purple, the ideas have snowballed.  You can see many of them of course in the book.  Like upside down snowmen, and jets instead of sleighs.  We imagined tea and honey instead of milk and cookies.  But the things that we have imagined are probably only just beginning.  We challenge you to come up with your own zany, wacky inspirations of how Christmas might be different.  We challenge you to do them at home. We challenge you to use them in the classroom.  And this week, one very inspired reviewer has done just that! Check out Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas cookies!  Baking in the classroom: Santa's Just Not Right Christmas CookiesThey have made it to our recent December Bucket List for sure!  And they easily can be used in the classroom for an art project and a fun Santa’s Night Before Christmas Cookie party!  We just want to run to the kitchen and get baking.  We’ve posted enough to get you started, but please for full recipe (and many other fun recipes!) please see A Mama, Baby, and Sharpei!  If you need a copy of the book to go along with these treats, of course you can get more information about the hardback, kindle, or interactive touch app, all on the Book page here.

SANTA’S JUST NOT RIGHT CHRISTMAS COOKIES
INGREDIENTS:                                                                           yields 2-3 dozen cookies

  • 1 C Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1.5 C Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2.5 C All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • Purple Food Coloring (I recommend gel coloring)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar together with the paddle attachment on low-speed so that the sugar doesn’t fly up in a cloud. Once the sugar has been mostly incorporated into the butter, turn up the speed, beating the butter mixture until it is creamy and thoroughly incorporated.

Then add the egg to the butter mixture, beating until just incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and baking soda and once that is thoroughly mixed in, add the flour, one cup at a time until it is all mixed in. This creates a batter-like dough that will be very soft. Dab in the purple food coloring and mix at a low-speed, or by hand, until the entire dough is colored to your liking. Remember that the color will brighten as it rests in the fridge.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead it into a soft ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour while kneading. Transfer the dough to a wax-paper lined plate, then press another piece of wax paper on top of the dough, flattening it into a round disc, the size of the plate between the two sheets of wax paper. Tuck the extra ends of the wax paper under the dough disc to keep the dough from drying out. Place the dough in the fridge for at least three hours or overnight to firm-up.

Once it has rested in the refrigerator, tear off a one-third section of the dough and place it on a floured work surface and keep the rest of the dough in the fridge. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper and pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness, making sure to flip the dough to keep it floured or it will stick to the work surface. *I prefer a 1/2 inch thickness in a roll-out cookie because they will remain soft and fluffy, even after decorating. If you prefer a more crisp cookie, I recommend rolling the dough to a 3/8 inch thickness*

Use a cookie cutter to cut the desired shapes. Place the cut cookies on the baking sheet, two inches apart as you prepare them. Once the baking sheet is full, place it in the oven and bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until the edges just start to darken. If you try to lift the cookies and they are still very soft, give them another minute or two. Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack until they are cooled to room temperature. Repeat with the dough in the fridge until you have made all of the cookies you desire.

Now on to decorating!! Use your imagination! We made a batch of Purple Royal Icing to pipe the details onto our cookies and to help our sprinkles and candy buttons and ornaments to stick to the cookies. But feel free to mix up any color you like and add any decorations you desire! I’ve included the recipe for the Royal Icing below which makes more than enough icing for 3 dozen cookies, we made just a half batch and still had plenty more icing leftover.  For full recipe for Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies again see …..A Mama, Baby, and Sharpei!Santa's Just Not Right Christmas cookies at home or in the classroom!

 

December Bucket List: Reading Santa’s Night Before Christmas

A December Bucket List? Are we here already? Wow!  Is it really already December 13th?  I feel like I am still in Thanksgiving mode.  I have been busy doing all kinds of things though in anticipation of Christmas in which we are now in the downhill stretch.  I found the cutest pin on Pinterest awhile back about a December Bucket List.  I decided to make my own list of things I hope maybe to get done this December (or maybe next…or next..or next!!)  Maybe it is a lifetime December Bucket List.  Here goes 20 to work for!December Bucket List: Reading Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)

1)Read Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right), and many of our other favorite Christmas books (we still love the original Night Before Christmas and Snowmen at Night!) out loud to my own kids, as well as to some other kids who aren’t my own. (Nieces and nephews, kids in a classroom, kids at a library, maybe at a children’s hospital – or wherever might feel good!) For me a December bucket list would not be complete without this, and I probably won’t have to try hard to remember to do it.

December Bucket List: Make pink popcorn to go along with all the other zany ideas in our book Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)2)Make homemade pink popcorn and serve hot cocoa from scratch for either a Christmas book reading night, or movie night. (check out this yummy pink popcorn which will go perfectly with the zany upside down antics of Santa’s Night Before Christmas….) Pink Popcorn Of course there isn’t much better than fresh regular popcorn popped in oil drizzled in fresh butter and salt right on the stove either.  I may have to squeeze in both!

3)String cranberries and popcorn for the tree.  This always puts such magic on our tree. And the chatter as we do it is so much fun!  It’s like baking cookies but without feeling guilty for eating all the dough! Just buy fresh cranberries, pop the popcorn the old fashioned way on the stove, get needle and thread and away you go.

4)Go ice skating on an outdoor rink.  There is something magical about doing this.  It always makes me feel like I’m in the holiday spirit. This makes my December Bucket List, but if I miss, I’ll be happy to make up in January or February.purple-chocolate-chips

5)Bake SANTA’S JUST NOT RIGHT CHRISTMAS COOKIES.  Need I say more?  Baking is on most everyone’s December Bucket list!Yum and fun!  Every year we love to bake cookies, but this year I have to say I’m going to have to try these special ones that were created just for us. Recipe here!  Of course some really want to get crazy and make the purple chocolate chips. Who can blame them?? Hoping for blueberry blue reindeer this year myself.  In any case make some to go with the book.  Super darling.December Bucket List: Santa's Just Not Right Christmas Cookies

6)Go Christmas caroling.  I always want to do this.  It has been so long since someone has rang my door.  But I love it when they do!

7)Go on a sleigh ride.  Or hay ride. Or horse and carriage ride.  Whatever the vehicle, it is always a special night out! What December Bucket list treat!

8)Have a Santa party.  We used to do this when the kids were little.  We had a very special Santa who would stop by.  Every parent would secretly leave a wrapped gift with their child’s name on it on our front porch.  Then a little bit into the evening Santa would arrive, gather the presents, put them in his bag, and then come inside and deliver them.  It was such delight to see the kids light up when Santa came with something they wanted and delivered it in person.  I need to do this again soon!

9)Make a Gingerbread house.  Darn it.  I’ve not done this one STILL.  Oh how I want to try!

10)Eat a candy cane.  Wow, when is the last time I actually did that?December Bucket List: Eat a Candy cane while reading Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)

December Bucket List: Build an upside down snowman to go along with the book, Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)11)Build a snowman.  Olaf has become somewhat of an obsession for me this year, and I can’t help but singing “Do you want to build a snowman?” every other day.  (Or a myriad of other tunes from Frozen!) Just waiting for the flakes to fly!   If you must hear it again now- like I did as I was writing, click here.  Maybe you can build an upside down one, like in the book. Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)

12)Sit on Santa’s lap.  We took a great group photo a few years back with my then teenage kids.  It is still fun!

13)Drive around and look at Christmas Lights!  I’m ready.  With the internet and  mapping so easy at our fingertips, we can look them up and really go find the great ones!  Maybe there is an app for that!?!?

14)Sit by a roaring fireplace. Drink hot cocoa or hot toddies.  But put on the Christmas music and enjoy!

15)Christmas Scavenger Hunt– I have been determined to do this for years.  There are lots of places to find lists and riddles on the internet.  So many ways to do it, easy or really complicated. Can’t wait to try this one out!  Here is an easy one I liked. Scavenger Hunt

16)Write a letter to Santa– or help someone else write one.  It seems like a lost art, but I think it would be fun to get creative, make it artistic.  Maybe we will write one and leave a Thank you note this year instead!

17) Make ornaments and decorate a tree– and enjoy it!  Do I really need to put it on the December Bucket list? No, but somehow over the years this has turned into a chore instead of something to be enjoyed.  I want to get back to making it a festive afternoon or evening.  Maybe starting with going to pick out the tree together as a family! Maybe have a snowman pizza when you get done!December Bucket List: Have a snowman pizza after putting up the tree!

18)Take a special family photo– Christmas is a great time to document the years as they go by.  Maybe do something extra special each year, or maybe record it the same.  Just make sure you do it!

19)Go to the Zoo lights, or botanical gardens lights. This is so enjoyable.  It is fun to walk around and have fresh hot roasted nuts and cider.

20)Go to the Christmas Parade- Nothing like a parade to make me feel like a kid again!  And nothing quite like taking the kids to see one to make them super excited about Christmas!

I reserve the right to expand this December Bucket List……….and it may take me some years to get to them all, but I am so excited to start trying.

UPDATED for 2015 Here.

 

 

How to Deal with Children and the Holidays After Divorce

Get great tips on how to handle children and the holidays after divorce at www.purplesantasuit.com

So you think you’re moving along and adapting to your new split-family living situation, but then wham,  how will you handle the children and the holidays after divorce.  You take your children to their Dad (Mom) on Tuesday and you’ll see them again on Saturday.  It is a bumpy cycle and much to be learned, but you’re getting the hang of it.

Then what do you spy on your calendar as you turn the page?  The next major holiday doesn’t fall on Tuesday?  It doesn’t fall on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday either.  You realize you are going to have to go dig out those divorce papers and see what year it is and if it’s odd or even and if you get to see your children or if you’ll be attending that holiday function without kids in tow.  So what can you do to make split-family living better during the holidays?

 

  1. Have Fun!  Remember that even though this is a transition time in your lives it is still the holiday season and it should be FUN!  Read silly books together with your kids, like Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas. Watch old movies and Christmas specials.  Bake cut out cookies.  Go look at Christmas lights. Sing Christmas Carols.  Play in the snow if you have it.  Make snowflakes if you don’t. Do anything to lighten the mood.  It is still supposed to be FUN!
  2. Communicate.  Communication is key to everything, and the holidays are no exception.  Talk to your kids and ex-spouse.  Maybe the every other year thing is too confusing.  Maybe your kids are feeling left out.  They might even feel guilty that Mom or Dad is alone.  See if you can work on a schedule that works better.  Some families opt to split the holidays by time, so that a child is with one parent until 2:00 and the other for the remainder of the day.  Some opt to split the holidays so that the kids know that every Thanksgiving they will be with Mom and her family for the entire day, but that every Easter or some other holiday they spend it with Dad and his family.  That allows traditions to build and nobody has to stop right in the middle of the fun.   A book like We’re Having A Tuesday will also help your kids communicate any feelings they may be having about missing out on one thing or another.
  3.  Put your differences aside.  Maybe for a day, an hour, but do whatever you can.  If you can manage to go to a pumpkin patch and carve pumpkins great.  If you can only handle opening gifts all together, so be it.  If it means sharing a piece of holiday pie and some eggnog, great!  Any amount of time you can spend all together will be the biggest gift you can possibly give to your kids.  Remember you are doing it for them.
  4. Plan Ahead.  Don’t be agreeing to the schedule the night before.  Inevitably there will be a child eating back to back turkey if there is no plan.
  5. Be flexible and reasonable, and keep your word.  If you plan to have your child home at 2:00 and it’s 2:15, don’t make a big fuss to your ex-spouse.  Things have a way of taking a little longer than expected during the holidays.  But don’t purposely ignore the agreed upon schedule.  That only sets your child up to be caught in the middle of your frustrations.
  6. Agree on gift giving methods.  Will you each be buying gifts separately or together?  Will you coordinate so you don’t both give the same thing?  Who will take the children shopping to purchase gifts for each of their parents?  How will they be paid for?  It is perfectly acceptable to teach your children the art of giving, even if it means you are buying a robe for your ex-wife.
  7. Establish new traditions.  You can incorporate old ones if you wish, but it might be time to start some new ones.  Maybe every holiday morning you will serve homemade cinnamon rolls. Maybe birthdays will now always be celebrated by waking up with balloons.  It is good to incorporate new so that whatever might be missing from the old might not be as missed.
  8. Let the love shine.  Allow your child to communicate with the missing parent. Maybe it will be a quick telephone call, maybe it will be a quick pick up to walk around the block.  In any case, your child is possibly celebrating a holiday without one of the most important people in their life.  It’s okay for them to want to share part of it with them.

10 New Holiday Traditions to start with your kids this year!

Holiday traditions are important. Read our ideas of good ones to start this year at purplesantasuit.com10 New Holiday Traditions to start with your kids this year! I’ve always been one to enjoy holiday traditions.  I guess that to me, it is the traditions that weave our lives together year after year.  After all isn’t that the time we tend to make the effort to see old friends and gather with our families. They are what we look forward to.  Traditions, rather it be the particular way our family makes Macaroni salad or that we always have a ham dinner for Christmas, how we open up our presents, or even when we get together, those traditions are what we remember and look forward to.  I often recall fondly certain food things, but there are many other things that my family has woven through our holidays year after year.  I will share some great ideas that I think will make your holidays memorable through the coming years.  Some we have done, some I have only wished I would have started so they would already be a part of our traditions. And one is brand new even to me, but I like it!  It is never too early to start with your kids.  Let them help, let them be a part of it and pretty soon they will look forward to the things they remember from their holidays growing up.  Here are some ideas to consider starting as a new holiday tradition with your kids this year.

  1. Christmas Eve Box – Growing up I was always allowed to open just one present on Christmas Eve. I suppose it was a way to hold me over.  It never seemed to work well.  I still woke my parents up at about 3 a.m. telling them that Santa had been and it was time to get started!  A Christmas Eve Box expands on that idea.  It is a gift box designed to be opened on Christmas morning.  It includes a pair of Christmas PJ’s (who doesn’t love a new pair of fun PJ’s?!), a new Christmas book to read out loud like Santa’s (Zany Wacky Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas, if you don’t have it, maybe a candy cane and some hot cocoa mix, or a new DVD Christmas movie and a bag of microwave popcorn.  Whatever goes in the box ideally would be something that your little one (or big kids like this too!) will enjoy savoring for that last night while they wait for Santa!
  2. Christmas Book Box- Speaking of books, another idea is to have a Christmas Book Box. It would be a box that you maybe add to each year.  Customarily those would be great read aloud picture books, but if your family likes other books to read aloud, other chapter novel Christmas books would be great additions too.  Then each year you will get out the box and read these books again and again.  It might be you read one each night during the season.  Maybe you have a night, like tree decorating night, that you sit down and read several.  Maybe on Christmas Eve, you read them all in one sitting.  Just make sure you enjoy the old books as you keep adding new ones each year.  And since you probably don’t have it, I have to plug that Santa’s Zany Wacky….makes a good one, and for more on other Santa books that make nice traditions see my previous post. Santa Books
  3. Ornaments – In my family I started collecting the Hallmark series ornaments. Every member in our family has a series that we add on to each year.  We open them on Christmas Eve night, and hang the new one on the tree.  My daughter who is about ready to move off on her own will have the most lovely set of ornaments to begin decorating her own tree with.  But there are other things you can do to make ornaments part of a tradition.  Some families make a special  personalized ornament with each member that comes into the family.  It could be a simple ball ornament with their name, or it could be an ornament that somehow represents them.  Another nice thing you can do with ornaments is to find a special ornament for each child that represents something special about their past year.  For example if she started ballet lessons it could be an ornament relating to ballet.  Or if he went to cooking school maybe it would be an ornament with a rolling pin.  There are so many ways to make annual ornaments part of the holiday traditions.
  4. Christmas movie or specials like Charlie Brown –My kids get a big laugh out of the idea that we all had to check the listings for the Christmas specials to come on. But we did.  And we looked forward to certain ones year after year.  It would be easy to find an old Christmas film that you liked growing up and share it with your kids.  You could pick the same one year after year, or you could introduce them to new ones every year.  It is a fun way to connect with your kids about what you did growing up. Two of my favorite movies are Santa Claus and The Grinch, but here are a couple list to help you remember. Specials  or Movies
  5. Baking Cookies – There are so many ways that baking cookies can become part of your tradition. It can be as simple as just baking them one day each season with your kids.  Even when they are very little they love to dump things into the bowl or sprinkle on some sugar.  Or you could host cookie decorating get together with all of the kids in the extended family.  Of course teaching your kids how to make a family heirloom recipe is a wonderful way to start a tradition.  Some families don’t do this and then when Grandma passes on, so do the cookies.  It is never too early to start teaching how to make those special treats.  It could be that the tradition is that you look through magazines, cookbooks, or the internet looking each year to discover some new holiday treats.
  6. Mapping out Christmas Lights to drive around– For as long as I can remember my kids and I have looked forward to going out one night, usually Christmas Eve for us, and looking at all the Christmas lights on houses. It is fun to go our favorites, and see them again and again.  Some years we find new ones.  Some years our favorites are no longer there for whatever reason.  But each year we go, chatting and signing along the way.
  7. Christmas cards– Having your kids participate in sending out Christmas cards is a fun way to teach them about what is quickly becoming a lost art. You can make cards together. That can mean cutting things out, drawing, painting, putting hand prints or the like. Or it could be as simple as letting them seal the envelopes.  Maybe they can help write a Christmas letter and help choose the stories and pictures included.  The important thing is, if they sit down with you every year to participate in preparing Christmas cards to send out, in whatever capacity, then it is likely that they will carry on that tradition when they decide how to celebrate their own holidays.
  8. Scavenger Hunt or Christmas Caroling – Christmas caroling is almost a lost art. But it is delightful to open the door and find people singing delightful songs.  Gather some family or friends, and go out.  It really is fun and rewarding.  Or………if singing just really isn’t your cup of tea, then try designing a scavenger hunt.  There are all kinds of fun ways to do it.  You can divide up the family, create a list, set a timer, and off you go.  I promise there will be stories to share upon your return of how someone got that last unlikely item, or the tales of what the neighbors said and did.
  9. Family Photo – including  your pets under the tree! It is something you will want to look back on year after year.  And if you take the time to do it you will have a nice documentation of how much your kids have grown, how your home and trees have changed, and even a good record of the pets in your life.  After all they are part of our families too. It seems like it is so obvious to do this, but it is so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of getting ready.  So make a point!  Find a time…….like the night you put it up, or Christmas Eve, or the night you watch Charlie Brown.  Just start and commit!
  10. Pickle- I lost a dear friend this year who had lots of German traditions because his wife was from Germany. I always loved hearing about them. And though he never told me about this one, I couldn’t help but include it when I read about it.  What a fun game!  I always thought being in a pickle was a negative thing.  But with this tradition, it sounds like a good way to start off the year.  And………..it is only one night of hiding something for those who dread that other little “hiding” game.

In

old

world

Germany,

the last decoration

placed on the Christmas tree

was always a pickle… carefully

hidden deep in the boughs. Legend

has it that the observant child who found

it on Christmas Day was blessed with a year

of good fortune…

and a special gift!

 

List of Children’s books about Santa

See our list of Santa books at www.purplesantasuit.com

So I’m the co-author of a book about Santa.  I love Christmas.  I love Santa.  I love children’s books. I thought it might be fun to find a list about the best children’s books about Santa.  After all, I wanted to see who else has been dreaming up fun stories about Santa.  Surely there must be many favorites.  I went to my friends at Pinterest, and surprisingly I didn’t find much in the way of lists.  So, I decided to do some research and come up with my own list.  Though I might be a bit bias, because I think everyone’s Santa collection should include Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas, I also think there are lots of others that are worth taking a peep at for consideration of your own Santa Book box!  Here is a list to get you started.   And if I’ve left something out, by all means, leave a comment and we can look into adding it!  I can think of nothing better than having a group of “go-to” books to read out loud after putting up the tree, or on Christmas Eve.  Here are some Santa ones to get you started. List of Children’s books about Santa:

Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas DK Simoneau and David Radman – a whimsical twist on the Night Before Christmas in which Santa finds himself in a Purple Santa Suit and Christmas becoming zany and wacky.  Great for both kids and adults!  And if you love art……..every time you page through you will find yourself noticing more and more detail.

Guess Who’s Coming to Santa’s for Dinner?  –Tomie dePaola –We all sit through family dinners that can be a bit of mayhem.  But imagine Santa and his family.  This is a smile on your face book for sure.

Oh, What a Christmas! Michael Garland –Maybe we are a bit partial to Christmas going  haywire here, but this is a fun story about Santa’s sleigh breaking and how to get Christmas on track!

How Santa Got His Job  –Stephen Krensky and S.D. Schindler –Did you ever think about Santa just being a Chimney sweep?  Check this out for a fun spin on how Santa got to be the Santa we love today!

The Night Before ChristmasClemet C Moore – There are so many editions to choose from! But check some out.  The pictures are always fun and beautiful, and there is nothing better than seeing the finger aside of the nose!

Santa Claus and the Three Bears  –Maria Modugno and Jane Dyer –Another delightful twist, this time on Goldilocks and the 3 Bears.  And who do you suppose the intruder is??  Santa!!

Polar Express  –Chris Van Allsburg –I can hardly believe this book is already about to be 30 years old.  But a list of Christmas books about Santa simply cannot exist without this one.  It really opens hearts to the idea of believing.  And as a Caldecott Medal winner, this book should just not be overlooked.  The art is stunning.

Snowmen at Christmas  – Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner –One of our favorite holiday books ever is Snowmen at Night.  And this one awaits the snowman Santa.  The art is brilliant how the lights and the snow just light up the pages.  Be sure to check out these snowman books!

 Santa Claus  –Rod Green –If you really want to know what makes Santa tick, this is the one to check out!

The Christmas Wish   –Lori Evert and Per Breiehagen –This is a newer one, and it is a beautiful tale about a girl trekking her way to be one of Santa’s elves.  Gorgeous.

Babar and Father Christmas Jean De Brunhoff  -if you love Babar you will love how he tries to bring Christmas.

White elephant gift exchange ideas worth stealing for!

White elephant gift exchange ideas worth stealing for!

White elephant ideas – nice, giggle, homemade, creative cash, or recycled??

Do you need a white elephant gift exchange idea?

Every year it seems we all get invited to at least one White elephant gift exchange, and we all need ideas worth stealing for.  I always like it when I bring the gift that everyone is fighting over.  Sometimes if it works out right, I like to steal it back at the end.  It makes me feel like I won a really great prize!

Nice Gifts: This year of course, I suspect the best gift I can bring to all of the white elephant parties would of course be our book, “Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas”.    Maybe even an autographed version.  Regardless I think anyone who brings this book will see that people will be fighting over it.  You could order a few, and keep them on hand.  They will make great last minute party gifts that you can just have around ready to go (even for those kids you forgot you might see over the holiday!) There are lots of other nice gifts like this that are popular.  Other kids Christmas book classics like Polar Express, or Snowmen at Night.  People always seem to be fighting over holiday decorative items, like cute little Santas or snowmen, wreaths or candles.  Candles….yes everyone seems to love the candles, especially the big jar ones with delicious holiday scents.  My favorite is anything that smells like candycane.  Someone always seems to bring some little dancing character, like  a snowman or a singing reindeer or something.  It is always a hit.  Anything with a holiday theme seems to be nice and very popular.

Homemade Gifts:  I’ve been known to fight over some homemade goodies before.  I love cookies, bananna bread, brownies anything.  It is especially nice when people include the recipe.  There are lots of ideas out there about things to make in a jar.   Things like cake mixes where one only has to add in the wet ingreedients.  You could make up a batch of these and use them at all of your white elephant parties or even as host gifts for regular parties.  I’ve had friends that have made homemade batches of wine, beer, kaluha, vinegars, oils. and more! There is lots of information too about how to make nice gift baskets.  I’ve seen Italian food baskets with wine and cheese, pasta, and olive oil.  I’ve seen movie baskets with a Christmas movie, popcorn, and cool popcorn bowls etc.  I’m thinking that one could make a really cool gift basket filled with holiday classic books or even a “Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas basket that could include some hot cocoa cups, marshmallows, hot cocoa mix (homemade or not), of course the book, and even a blanket throw or some kind of sleep shirt.  People love to get something that people make or assemble themselves.

Creative Cold Hard Cash and Gift Cards: There is nothing wrong with stopping on your way to the party and getting a gift card or even just putting some cash in an envelope.  We’ve all been that person.  And nobody will complain if that is the gift they receive in the end.  But one could be a little creative with it.  My Dad once gave me money for Christmas and it was all in $2 bills.  It would take a little planning and maybe a phone call to the bank, but it could be done.  Of course hiding a gift card or cash inside of a really big wrapped box taped inside the bottom throws people off.  To get a little more creative with that you could include a brick or a big lump of coal and tape the card to the bottom of it in the box.  There are lots of jar ideas that you could hide it inside of too.  Maybe a jar of holiday candy like candy canes or holiday M&Ms, gumballs, or holiday Hershey kisses.  Just load up the jar, put the money or card inside of a plastic baggie or something and then wedge it in.  It might be fun to not say a word…..and see how long it takes before the lucky present winner finds their bonus!  Gift cards are really fun. It is fun to see what people will fight for.  I’ve seen of course Starbucks cards, those are very popular.  I’ve seen gas cards, ice cream cards, and even Home Depot cards be fought over.  So next time you are at one of those stores, buy a few to keep around for your holiday parties, and you will be set.

Gifts that will cause a Giggle: These are always fun at a White Elephant Exchange party.  Sometimes they get a big groan.  Sometimes they are worth stealing!  I’ve seen all kinds of things from bacon flavored toothpaste, soap and bubblegum, to hairy pantyhose, and clown glasses.  I’ve seen silly putty to “Flarp” noise putty and whoopie cushions.  Even photo props like Santa hats and mustasches on sticks can be fun. Boxes of kids bandaids, big mama underwear, wasabi lip balm, and giant, and I mean giant candycanes are fun.  I’ve seen rubber duckies, even decorate your own rubber duckie kits, reindeer antlers, halloween wigs, and I even once saw one of those beta fish that come in a cup!  Just wander around, there are so many things that might cause a laugh, even a purple santa hat might do it! 😉 There are lots of places to look for ideas, one I still like is Spencers at the mall or online.

Recycled Items: This can be interpreted in two ways.  It could mean something like “regifting” something you got last year at another gift exchange or from your Mother-in-law.  Or it could mean giving some item that might be destined for the trash a “recycled” life. I’ve been known to bring the dud gift when I’ve forgotten to prepare ahead of time.   That could mean that I run around my house finding anything……..could be something sitting on the shelf that who knows how I’ve obtained.  I once had what I thought was a hideous figurine that someone at the party thought was marvelous and was a collector of.  I’ve brought a six pack of beer that was sitting in the fridge that I would never get around to drinking.  I’ve seen big 3 wick candles that were already burnt.  There is always the fun of bringing the “dud” gift from last year to the same party and listen to the giggles when it is pulled out once again.  It is fun to see those show up again and again year after year.  It could be that you fill up an empty cereal box with lemons or a small mint box with old nuts and bolts that don’t go to anything.  There are endless possiblities.

Lots of ideas….I can hardly wait for White Elephant Party season to start this year.  So which white elephant gift exchange idea worth stealing for are you going to bring?!  If you have some good ideas we’d love to hear them!

Photo Contest Christmas 2014- Santa’s Zany, Wacky!

Photo Contest Christmas 2014. www.purplesantasuit.com

Less than a week old. Youngest Fan!

 

 

 

Photo Contest Christmas 2014 www.purplesantasuit.com

Boasting our purple Santa hats!

Enter our photo contest Christmas 2014 for Santa’s Zany Wacky ideas. So just how zany and wacky can you get this Christmas?? We want to see your photos! Do you decorate your house in some unusual way? Dress up?  Dress up your pets? Do you have a purple Christmas tree? Do you do something unusual while preparing for Christmas? Do you read holiday stories in an unusual way or place? Do you wear ugly Christmas sweaters? Purple santa hats? Elf outfits? Reindeer antlers on your car? Send us your pics, with our book someplace in it, and you will be entered. Not that wacky? Then take just a picture of you or your kid(s) reading a copy of “Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas, in a normal, cool, or unusual place or way. Whatever it is, we want to see it! Start getting wacky! Or not……..and just show us you love the book. 🙂

Photo Contest Christmas 2014 Rules:

Must be 18 years of age or older to enter (photos of people must be of yourself, or you may send photo of someone younger, but please include your relationship to anyone under 18)

Photo must include a copy of the book Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas somewhere in photograph

Send copy of photo via email to info@purplesantasuit.com

Include your Name, email address so we may contact you for further information should you win.

Photos may be posted on this website, Facebook, or Pinterest, and by submitting photo you acknowledge that we may use that photo on those sites. (Click to see where photos may be posted on sites: Facebook-or- Pinterest)

Limit of 2 photo entries per email address.

Prizes- (Prizes will only be awarded if there are 25 entries or more)

Judged photo Winner $50.00 cash

Random drawing winner – Autographed copy of the book for your collection.

Contest closes December 15, 2014