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Christmas Traditions #5 ~ The Elf On The Shelf

Yet again, I have to switch up my 12 days of Christmas for you. Life always seems to get in the way! We are not 100% done decorating and I want to be able to show you the final product so that will be tomorrow.

In the meantime, I am really excited to talk about a tradition that my Mom requested I start long before P was even a part of our lives (even in my tummy). She is a huge fan of Hallmark and several years ago, she saw this adorable game (as she called it) titled, The Elf On The Shelf. She decided to get one and afterwards, wishing she had gotten more, searched high and low. Now-a-days, they can be found everywhere and have become very popular. While I don’t want to teach P that he will always get something if he is good, that should just be normal behavior, Christmas is a truly magical time and this is such a cute way to incorporate Santa and Christmas! In P’s first letter from Santa, you may have noticed that I have already named his Elf, Sammy. I just love that name and wanted all of the letter to P from Santa to refer to him. Like most of the traditions we have already started or plan to start this year, P can’t really participate or will remember, right now it’s more of and enjoyment for Rob and I. P will grow into them knowing nothing different which is so exciting and magical!

Click here to visit their website! 

If you are unfamiliar with the story, you can learn more about it here.

      Full Hands, Full Hearts
Organizing Made Fun


Christmas Traditions # 4 ~ Letter to Santa & from Santa

One of my fondest memories of working at Toys R Us was Christmas time. I loved watching the kids come into the store to make their Christmas lists. I loved watching parents come in at 10 or 11 at night (we were opened until 12) to get the shopping done while they were asleep. I didn’t love when a shopping cart would pull up and the Mother would expect me to somehow scan and bag half the stuff without their child seeing (that’s a story for another day).

When I went to Alaska to visit Rob while on deployment, we visited the “North Pole” and they had this adorable program where you could send someone a letter from Santa or the deed to a little piece of The North Pole. I sent a letter to my two favorite Guilford kids and purchased the deed for my Dad!

There are tons of different ways to do this and I finally decided on this one, after quit a bit of research. I write a letter to P from Santa. I put it in a sealed envelope addressed to P with a postmark of Santa, North Pole. I then put that in a larger envelope and send it off to:

North Pole Postmark
4141 Postmark Dr
Anchorage, AK 99530-9998

I used Anke Print font for the letter and mailing labels. I tired changing my own hand writing but it all looks the same. This is what I think Santa’s handwriting would look like! 

We found this adorable mailbox at Michael’s that I decided to get because it was so cute. It wasn’t till I got home that I realized it would go perfect next to the table set up with Santa’s plate and cup. Even more, I was thinking that we would have P put his letter in that mailbox and that is where the one from Santa would magically appear.

While out shopping on Black Friday, I found some really cute red and white bordered paper that I plan to use to write the letters to P from Santa. I was in the store holding the package and wanted to make sure that there were enough pieces that I wouldn’t have to search for more later down the road (keeping in mind a few mistakes each year). When I saw that there were 50 pages, I chuckled to myself and said, “yeah, I guess he won’t still be getting these when he is 50 years old!”.

We now have this adorable little corner in the living room with our Advent box, mailbox and the plate, bowl and cup for Santa!

If you can’t tell already, I really do love the Christmas Season! I get so excited writing these posts and can’t wait to show you more! Check back tomorrow where I will be talking about decorating our house!
      Full Hands, Full Hearts
Organizing Made Fun

Christmas Traditions #3 ~ Christmas Cards


I know I said yesterday that today I would be sharing our tradition about letters to and from Santa. Rob decided to surprise me to a day of pampering and I spent the day getting a manicure, pedicure and a completely new hair color and style. It’s now 9:30 at night and I am too tired to go downstairs and take pictures of some really cute things I found to facilitate our letters. So, I decided to bump up the post about our Christmas cards!

Ever since my first Christmas, back in 1983, my Mom and Dad have put together a creative and personal Christmas card to send to friends and family. There was always a theme to the picture and a little story on what each of us had been up to that year. Most years we incorporated my Dad dressed as Santa. As Sarah and I got older, Mom and Dad had to get a little more creative.

I searched my files and all I could find was a picture taken from 2005 and 2006.

The Christmas card in 2005 involved a separate picture of Sarah and I on separate coasts (since I was living in LA at the time). My picture showcased the beautiful weather we had in November while my Sissy was all bundled up because it was snowing!

In 2006, my Mom hosted a weekend long cookie baking party. We ended up with tons of sweets and got a little carried away with the flour!

Last year, we used our Christmas card to announce to family that we were expecting. I created a front and back image and then used them to create postcards from Vistaprint. It was the perfect way to share our news and I had so much fun making it.

2011 Christmas Card

I was so excited for Parker to ear the same Santa’s Littlest Helper hat that I wore for my very first Christmas card picture. We decided to do something simple and ended up stringing some lights on the wall behind our bed and spreading some red ornament walls out on our white comforter. It ended up being the perfect backdrop and this is what we came up with! You can check out our final Christmas Card here.

Christmas Card copy

Here are some of my favorite shots from the photo shoot.






I hope you enjoyed reading! Check back tomorrow when I WILL be talking about letters to and from Santa! In the meantime, check out some of the link-ups I am participating in for other awesome Christmas traditions, food and decorating! 

* Update: December 2, 2014 – It was brought to my attention that using Christmas lights around children is extremely dangerous. When we did this photo shoot Parker had the lights for maybe 5 minutes, never put them in his mouth, and we gave him a bath afterwards. At the time I didn’t even think to look into the dangers of using them. Now that I have, I wouldn’t recommend it.


Christmas Traditions #2 ~ Twenty-Five Books

We absolutely love reading books to P. Between the collection I had from working at Toys R Us when I was younger, and my Mom and Sister asking everyone who came to my shower to bring one, he had more books than I could count before he was even born. I still am not sure what I have more fun doing, sitting on the floor of 2nd & Charles looking through books, or reading them to him!

I found an idea on Pinterest, go figure, originally sourced from here. You take 24 books and wrap each of them to put under the tree. Each night, one book gets opened and read before bed. Just for clarification, you use the same books over again each year. Since they are only read once a year, it will take awhile for them to get old. You can also switch out the books as kids grow up. Since P is still a little young, I decided not to wrap them this year but plan to starting next year.

We already had these books:

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
If You Take A Mouse To The Movies
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Frosty The Snowman

These were the ones I found at 2nd & Charles. It worked out great because they were doing a buy 5 get 5 free on children’s books. I chose books with big bold pictures and pop-up books to attract P’s attention.

The Little Mouse’s Christmas
The Happy Snowman
Santa’s Toy Shop
Who’s Getting Ready For Christmas
Penguin And The Mystery Footprints
Corduroy’s Christmas
Jingle Bells ~ Christmas Sing Along Book
I Spy Little Christmas
The 12 Bugs of Christmas
The Biggest, Most Beautiful Christmas Tree (Golden Book)
Annabelle’s Wish (Golden Book)
The Cat That Climbed The Christmas Tree (Golden Book)
Let’s Get Ready for Christmas
Holly Jolly Christmas
Christmas Rhyme Time
Getting Ready For Christmas
Save The Reindeer
Little People from Fisher Price ~ Christmas Is Here
Santa’s Littlest Helper Travels the World

You maybe asking yourself, “why 25 books and not 24?” A tradition that my parents have done with me since I was born (and my Sissy after that) was for my Dad to read The Night Before Christmas. Even when I was on Vegas Christmas 2005 and in DC working Christmas of 2010, I was on the phone listening to him read it to us. The first time I was not home for it, he sent me my own copy so I could follow along. He picked the perfect one for me as Mary Engelbreit’s illustrations are amazing! So that is book number 24.

In December 2010, Rob and I went to a Military Holiday Concert and a solider read The Soldiers Night Before Christmas. I am sure it came as no surprise to him when he opened it Christmas Eve with a note that said, “to read to your children on Christmas Eve someday”.  This makes book number 25.

I hope you enjoyed reading! Check back tomorrow where I will be talking about writing letters to Santa and getting letters back! 
      Full Hands, Full Hearts
Organizing Made Fun

12 Days Of Christmas Traditions

Ekkkk, I cannot believe the Christmas Season is FINALLY here! It has always been one of my favorite holidays! I know, I know, I say that at almost any holiday. I love them all for different reasons. Christmas is all about the lights, decorations, music, traditions, food and friendly atmosphere (I chose to ignore all the Scrooges). It is also about searching for those perfect gifts and watching people light up when they open them.

I have been very busy scouring the web to find some of the best Christmas season traditions. Some of my favorite sites can be found here on my December Pinterest Board. Originally I was going to put all of the ones we plan to start this year in one post, but quickly realized there were far to many! So, in the holiday spirit, I have broken it down into 12 different posts. For the next 12 days, I will be posting about a different tradition we have done or plan to start this year and continue on as our family grows.

Day #1 ~ Advent Activities
Day #2 ~ 25 Books
Day #3 ~ Christmas Cards
Day #4 ~ Letters to and from Santa
Day #5 ~ The Elf On The Shelf
Day #6 ~ Decorating
Day #7 ~ Santa’s Autobiography
Day #8 ~ Adopt A Family
Day #9 ~ Ornaments
Day #10 ~ Giving Back
Day #11 ~ Our Favorite Foods
Day #12 ~ Christmas Eve
Christmas Card Revealed

But wait, I am not the only one doing this! Sowdering About is hosting a 25 days of Christmas link up so hop on over and see what some amazing bloggers have come up with.

I am also linking up with Full Hands, Full Hearts for her Season’s Best Monthly Link Up! Some amazing bloggers have also linked up their seasonal posts there so go check em out! 

Full Hands, Full Hearts

Guess what, there is STILL more party fun! I am also thrilled to be linking up with “The Top Organizing Bloggers” and their Holiday Organizing & Decorating Pinning Party

Organizing Made Fun