Tuesday, December 3, 2019

McEwan Christmas Traditions and ideas for your own Christmas activities!!

McEwan Santa pic 2018, baby girl's first time seeing Santa
and Ugly Christmas sweaters/beenies!!

It's finally time for a Christmas post!!  December seems to come around quicker every year and not stay nearly long enough!   I'm so excited to start our December family traditions!  As crazy as some of our outings might be when all of our crazy personalities together it's one of my favorite things to do.  Even if I need a nap after or a Xanax!! It's always hit or miss whether it's going to be a smooth time but when it is, it's pretty fantastic to watch the kids interact and tease and laugh with each other.  We just need to stay out of the car to keep the fighting to  a minimum!  If anyone has any ideas of how to stop the fights over seats...I'd LOVE to hear them in the comments.  We've tried everything and now I just roll my eyes and occasionally yell, "just get in and sit down!!"

While I'm not one to put our tree up crazy early, we usually set it up and decorate our house the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Our younger kids have gotten on board with helping assemble the tree.  From my point of view it seems like a good thing, but I'm not the tree person.  Daddy has that job. Lucky him, we got a pre-lit tree this year and it was only in three pieces!  I'm actually really looking forward to maybe doing a real tree next year!  None of the little kids have had that experience yet.  Every kid should experience at least once in their childhood.   He might disagree with the kids being a "help" but he has a super amount of patience letting them help and they love it.  We've taken to letting them hang the ornaments as well.  I do end up spending some time rearranging the most jumbled together bunches, but I try and leave most of it alone.  Our tree definitely leans more toward a family style tree than a glamorous show piece.  I sorta love it, though.  Each kid has received an ornament every year on Christmas eve with a pair of pajamas since they've been born and I love listening to them talk about each one as they hang it on the tree.  They are so proud when they are finished!  Although, I did manage to start a new tradition this year and have a "pretty" tree to indulge my decorating love and let the kids have a fun tree with colored, blinky lights and all their ornaments in the other room!

One of my favorite traditions we do is visit Santa as an entire family and have family photo taken.  They older kids don't always love it but they know when momma gets an idea they should just roll with it.  It might be the promise of a dinner out that gets them there, who knows?  I'm not picky how I get them there nor am I above bribery as a parent when the occasion warrants.  We don't treat the whole family to a night at a restaurant too often.  Mostly because of the enormous cost to feed this small army, and let's be real, sometimes the chaos of taking them all out is nuts!  After dinner we take the kids to shop for their sibling gift. We started drawing names about the time our 4th kid came along.  We give them each a budget and I seriously love watching them look for the perfect thing keeping in mind what their siblings would love to receive.  It's a breath of fresh air from the normal every man for himself attitude we sometimes get around here.

Taking the kids to see Christmas lights is something else we love to do.  Last year we did the Color of Lights festival, a drive through style light show and all wore our jammies.  Well, it was just the 4 youngest with us but the ones who went went did it in pj's.  Lucky for us McDonald's is a one stop shop for dinner and hot cocoa to take on the ride with us! Gotta love the drive thru especially when the entire family is in sleepwear.

Family selfie at the lights!

One thing John and I have always done from the first year of marriage is to visit Temple Square and City Creek in Salt Lake City to see the lights and nativity and enjoy the Christmas spirit! We've literally gone every single year since we've been married.  It's always an adventure of some sort.  We've gone with bundled babies, kids in snow pants, pushed older kids with attitudes in the stroller while toddlers with better attitudes walked and explored.  We've had the boys get in trouble for playing in the revolving door one year while I stood oblivious.  Yep, I was THAT mom.  Every year we make our way to get hot cocoa and see the enormous tree inside the Memorial building.  Apparently hot cocoa is the one common thread in all our traditions!!  I loved carrying baby girl around strapped to me last year and introducing her to all the pretty lights.  She was in awe and I was in awe of her!!

With my girl's
they're usually the only ones down
for many pics!

Loved wearing her around Temple
Square and seeing all the faces as they
enjoyed her as much as I did!

My most favorite tradition we do as a family is dinner on Christmas day.  We call it our "fancy pajama" dinner, haha.  Who wants to get dressed after presents on Christmas?  Not this family!  We let the kids just play and we all stay in our pj's.  We might like our casual wear but mommy also loves a good, traditional Christmas dinner. One year I decided I'd make it happen.  I go all out with the "fancy" dishes and table cloth on the table and we make it special.  Well, sometimes.  I'm one to follow my moods, so there has been some years we've done minimal decorating...but more than an average night at home would be!  Even though we love a pretty table nobody really wanted to get out of their jammies so we decided it would be a tradition to wear them to our Christmas dinner table.  My daughter had a guest come one year and we told him to wear his lounge wear!  It's sort of perfect!!  In fact I love it so much I believe its the tradition that will endure as our family grows.  No matter what day we choose for our family to come together to celebrate, how awesome will it be if they all come in their pajamas and we open presents like it's Christmas morning??  I can just picture it.  Of course we will have hot cocoa as well, lol.

Not the most ALL out we've gone, but
the table cloth is on, so WIN!
I love traditions so much.  It's something to look forward to all year and something that creates memories.  Some are wonderful, some are crazy, and some are awful but we show up together and that's what counts.  The older our family gets the more I look forward to our traditions because it's time when we get to be all together!!  This year was a little more complicated to figure out but I sat down the last week in November and we planned our activities on the calendar.  I literally sent a text to the older kids with the dates and places we were gonna go.  Some of them I labeled required..mostly the ones we always do, some I labeled "really wish you'll be there" and then the ones geared toward the younger kids I labeled optional.  I'm not sure when I became THAT mom, lol.  Things get really weird when your family gets older!  I'm super excited to share our adventures and always the real with you on our weekly updates this month!!

Some years we've also found a couple of other outings or activities to do.  They just aren't something that we do each and every year. Here's some links to a couple of things we've done and enjoyed or wish and plan to get to some year!  All of these sound so much fun!

Hope these might give you some ideas for the start of the Christmas Season!  Or if you are a new little family maybe they will become traditions every year for your family!  Google is a great resource to use to find activities wherever you and your family are! Just look up Christmas activities, or Christmas lights!  Whatever we all decide to do with our loved ones every year the most important part of traditions is spending time together.  It's sharing your space with the people you love, family or not!  Happy Holidays!

Leave a comment with your family's favorite things to do for the holidays!  I'm always open to new ideas to try or share!  And please tell me I'm not the only mom who sometimes wonders if all the efforts are worth the outing, sometimes?!?  They'll appreciate the memories when they're older..... right?!?

Here are some local links to some Utah activities!

Luminaria Lehi, Utah

We used to love visiting Thanksgiving point and do their drive through light show.  They've since stopped doing that and instead started Luminaria a walk through light experience.  It sounds amazing and we might try and hit it some night in December as a couple for a date night.  At their price tag it just doesn't work for our family of 9.  If you have a pass I believe it's a discounted cost!

Tree of lights/life Draper, Utah

We've been to the Tree of Light in Draper more than one year.  It's really just a walk through a few lights up to a fully lit gorgeous tree.  It's still something fun to enjoy and a great place to grab some family pics.  The tree itself is kind of mind boggling.  The amount of lights on the tree is insane!

Color of lights Festival Utah and Colorado

This is the drive through Light show we did last year in pajamas with our McDonalds dinner.  It worked perfect since we had a 6 month old.  She stayed warm in the car and loved all the lights to look at!  They have locations in Utah and Colorado.

Temple Square SLC, Utah

We love the atmosphere of Temple Square during Christmas.  It's usually crazy crowded but it kind of makes it seem more festive in a way.  I believe on some years they do a little lighting ceremony the weekend of Thanksgiving.  Look it up before you head out though!  We thought we would go one year only to find out they weren't planning one the year we went.  It was a bummer.

Hogle Zoolights

They lights are so fun to see but they don't have a lot of animals out this time of year!

Old fashioned Country Christmas Lavender farms, Mona, Utah

I am so excited to try this one this year!  It's only on Dec. 14th so mark those calendars.  First of all this is one place our family has never been and I've always wanted to do and secondly, their huge, gorgeous draft horses will be there.  Have you ever seen them up close?  So amazing and I can't wait.  Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there as well.  Of course a good ole wagon ride is also included!  Maybe we will see some of you there.

Spanish Fork drive thru light show

Spanish Fork has a drive through light show as well.  You can find all the info at the above link.  We haven't been since our oldest was just a couple years old.

Candle light Christmas, Heritage Park SLC, Utah

We found out about This is the Place candlelight Christmas as I was researching fun Christmas ideas.  I've never known they did this.  We are planning this for sure this year.  The idea of going back in time for an old fashioned Christmas is just too cool for this history buff to pass up.  Cost is $8 a person and full of activities and the houses are all decorated for the holidays!  I even think you can visit Santa!!

Polar Express Train ride

If you live in Utah County you've most likely heard about the Heber Valley Polar Express ride.  I have wanted to go for years.  I just don't think it's in the cards in the near future.  The cost is a little high if you times it by 9 but if our family was smaller I would so jump on board!  With cocoa, Santa, Carols and a full on train ride to North Pole, the littles would LOVE it!!

Provo river Cruise

Provo river has a Christmas boat ride!  How cool is this?  We also haven't done this but it's definitely on my list of things I want to do!  They sing carols and the boat is all lit with Christmas lights.  All info above, including price!

Gallivan Center light up ceremony

Ogden City electric light parade and lighting

This sounds awesome and reminds me of the scene in Christmas Story!  They have a full on parade and Santa rides the last one in and flips a switch to light the street all up in lights.  I would love to go if we lived a little closer.

Tuacahn Christmas lights St. George, Utah

This is for my St. George friends!  We will be heading down for Thanksgiving weekend so we already plan to attend!  I can't wait.  They do a live nativity show for $3 a person and a Train ride on a real train for $2 a person.  Plus they light up Tuacahn with with all sorts Christmas lights and displays.

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