Monthly Archives: December 2013

Framed Calendars

Need something to keep you occupied while you watch the Tournament of Roses Parade?  Well, here you go – the perfect New Year’s Day project: A framed calendar.

This is nice to have all year round.  Several years ago I got a little calendar in a frame as a Christmas gift.  I loved it!  It was the perfect size for my crowded desk, and I enjoyed changing it to a new design each month.  As that year drew to a close, I looked all over for a replacement but couldn’t find one.  So I decided to make one of my own, and I’ve made one every year since.

First, get a cute frame that goes with the room where you want the calendar.  Fairly neutral colors are best so that it blends with the design for each month.

Next, print off little calendar grids for each month.  These are fairly easy to find online.  Just search for “printable 2014 calendar,” and you should be able to find a set that will work for you.  Choose the size of your calendar grid based on the size of your frame.  Remember to leave room for decorations.

Then comes the fun part.  Collect a variety of papers, stamps, and stickers for each month.  Lay them out first to make sure you like the frame, papers, and decorations together.  Once you are happy with all twelve designs, go ahead and cut your papers to the size of you frame.  Glue the calendar grids to the papers for the correct month and add the stickers or other embellishments.

Calendar Sheets

Calendar Sheets

If your stickers pop out at all, just put the glass for your frame behind the sheet each month instead of in front as usual.  The glass is really not needed to protect the calendar as it is with a photograph, but if you put it behind the calendar sheet, the frame still has the right thickness to fit properly and the glass will be there if you ever need it later.  Personally, I like doing it this way because three dimensional designs add interest to the calendar.

Finally, store your calendar sheets in a safe place where you can get to them each month, put January’s sheet in the frame, and ring in the New Year!

Framed Calendar

Framed Calendar

 

Two More Days of Christmas

So if you’re like me and think that 12 Days of Christmas just isn’t enough, let me introduce you to 2 more extra holidays we celebrate  in my family.  Christmas Eve Eve and The Poor Little Day After Christmas.

Christmas Eve Eve is, obviously, the day before Christmas Eve.  Back when my husband and I were dating and started celebrating Christmas together, we wanted some holiday time for just the two of us.  However, Christmas Eve and Christmas were already filled to the brim with family gatherings, dinners, and church services.  We decided to go out to a nice dinner and exchange our gifts for each other on December 23rd.  And so, Christmas Eve Eve began.  Over the years, our traditions have evolved but we still set aside Christmas Eve Eve as a special day just for our little family.  Now that our little one has joined our celebration we go out for a nice lunch then come home for a cozy afternoon playing, watching Christmas movies, and reading Christmas books.  We put out appetizers and Christmas cookies and spend the evening eating treats and opening our presents to each other.

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It is one of my most favorite days of the year.  I love having this day set aside just for our little family.

Our other extra holiday is The Poor Little Day After Christmas.  This is, as you probably guessed, on December 26th.  It comes from a song on the “Christmas Love” record my parents had when I was little.  The song describes the disappointment and melancholy felt on the day after Christmas when the holiday is over.  To avoid this down in the dumps day, we take The Poor Little Day After Christmas to have one last cozy day enjoying our Christmas decorations, playing with our new gifts, and watching any Christmas movies we didn’t get to see earlier in the month.  It’s a great relaxing day that puts a nice cap on the Christmas season.

Merry Christmas everyone, no matter how many days you celebrate!

Ode to Santa Mouse

And now to share with you what is probably my most cherished tradition of all:  Santa Mouse.  While not as widely known, Santa Mouse has been around for a lot longer than the Elf on the Shelf.  And he’s much less creepy in my opinion!  Our Santa Mouse traditions stem from the books Santa MouseSanta Mouse Where Are You, and Santa Mouse Meets Marmaduke by Michael Brown.  Without a doubt, they are my most favorite Christmas books to read.  Sadly, they are hard to find – they go in and out of print.  But if you are ever lucky enough to fin them, snap them up immediately!

Sant Mouse

Santa Mouse

They are the delightful stories about Santa’s little helper, Santa Mouse.  The stories explain how Santa Mouse came to be, how he ties his packages with yellow ribbon, how he leaves tiny gifts in the branches of the Christmas tree, and how you need to put a yellow light at the top of your tree if you want him to visit you.

These tidbits from the Santa Mouse books have become an integral part to our Christmas over the years.  As the books say,” Santa Mouse is Santa’s helper, he goes with him ev’ry year, and it really isn’t Christmas unless both of them appear.”  Every year our tree has special yellow lights at the top just for Santa Mouse.  After years of receiving special gifts from Santa Mouse, last year was our daughter’s first Christmas and my first chance to wrap a package tied with yellow ribbon myself.  I must admit that I got a bit choked up buying a big spool of yellow ribbon at the party store to carry on this special tradition for our own Christmas baby.

So this year, tell your kids about Santa Mouse.  Read them the books if you can.  Encourage them to leave a piece of cheese for Santa Mouse out with their cookies for Santa.  Who knows?  You may find a tiny gift tied with yellow ribbon in the branches of your tree on Christmas morning!

Advent Books

Advent is a big deal at our house.  I LOVE Advent calendars.  Some years it takes us a good 20 minutes each night to tour the house opening each little box or hanging each tiny ornament for all of the Advent calendars.  Well, as if that wasn’t enough, this year I’ve added a new Advent tradition to the mix: wrapping a Christmas book for each day of Advent and then opening up and reading one each night.

I found this idea on Pinterest a few years ago, and now that we have our own child I couldn’t wait to try it.  Although I could also see doing this with Christmas and Hanukkah books at school to count down to Winter Break.  I started by gathering up 25 Christmas books.

Advent Books

Advent Books

Now, I must admit I have a children’s book buying habit, so it was no trouble for me to find 25 books in my own collection to wrap.  If you don’t have that many Christmas books, you may want to start collecting now for next year!  A couple tips on book choices… Don’t pick anthologies.  You want to be able to read one quick story a day.  Also, I suggest that you don’t pick your most favorite stories to wrap.  You will want to read those over and over throughout the month rather than just once when you get to that wrapped package.  Besides, this gives you a chance to be sure you get to read all of your Christmas books – even the more unfamiliar ones you might normally forget.

After you have chosen your books, wrap them.

Wrapped Advent Books

Wrapped Advent Books

Don’t put bows on them so you can stack them in a pile and watch the pile get smaller over the course of the month.  Put numbers on the packages instead.

Advent Stamps

Advent Stamps

I used this set of numbered Christmas stamps from Stampin’ Up to number my packages, but you could also use stick on numbers or just write the numbers with a Sharpie.

Kids will love this new Advent tradition!  (At least I can only assume they would love it… Our one year old is perhaps still a bit too young to fully appreciate it as she tends to jump up and run off a few pages into each night’s book to do something vitally important such as blow on the tinsel on the tree or move the peppermint candy window clings from the patio door to the front of the dishwasher.)  I am LOVING reading a Christmas book each night though, and I hope you will too!

December Author of the Month: Laura Numeroff

Hard to believe it’s December already!  Time for this month’s Author of the Month.  Laura Numeroff is my pick for December.  She is the author of the wonderful If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series.  Her books are great for the busy, hectic, crazy month of December because they are quick, simple, funny, and engaging enough to grab those little attention spans distracted by visions of sugar plums this time of year.  There is even a Christmas themed book in the series: If You Take a Mouse to the Movies.

Laura Numeroff Books

Laura Numeroff Books

The books are so much fun to read aloud, and they are repetitive and predictable enough that kids reading at just about any level can read them on their own without frustration.  They are great for teaching about cause and effect.  Kids can even write their own cause and effect stories based on Laura Numeroff’s books.  Her books also provide opportunities to make treats that go along with them: cookies, donuts, muffins, cupcakes, etc.  And everyone needs more treats in December, right???

Have fun reading!  And remember, if you read a kid a Laura Numeroff book… he or she will probably want to read another one!