Living the Twelve Days

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fun Fact: The 12 Days of Christmas are actually the days *after* Christmas (well, beginning with Christmas Day itself). Does it drive you nuts to see the crazy buildup to Christmas just... die on December 26? I hate it! We build up slowly and really try to live it up during the Octave of Christmas and the full twelve days. We do our "big" family presents on Epiphany (January 6) and I like to plan one special thing for each day until then. A lot of the time this ends up being me flying by the seat of my pants and making things up as we go, but it works for us!

Want to try to make your 12 Days of Christmas special? Here are some things we've done to encourage spending time together as a family:

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1. Go to church! If we can, we really like to try to visit a local shrine and pick up a new saint statue or icon for our family. Sometimes they'll have nativity figurines on sale post-Christmas, as well! If you know a trip like that isn't in the cards, I've got some good sources for icons in this post.

4 years ago - the last time we made cutout cookies. And that was with two extra adults and only two big kids "helping!"

2. Bake cookies! I'll admit, my kids don't actually know that cutout sugar cookies are a thing because we haven't made them in years... We either go slice-and-bake or make regular round cookies. But if you're a better parent than I, grab some of the adorable cookie cutters from Catholic Curio when they reopen their shop and use them for cookies or play doh! And definitely grab some icing and sprinkles on clearance to decorate your cookies.

3. Bake a birthday cake for Jesus! We have special candles we use every year *only* for Jesus's birthday cake, and the kids get really excited when we pull them out.

4. Give alms! If you haven't had a chance to give alms this season (or if you want to do it again!), let your kids have some say in what charity to donate to, and find a way to serve the needy.

5. Do a craft as a family! Wiki Stix are a blast for grown-ups and kids, and can last a *long* time as long as they aren't getting chewed up or ground into the rug ;) I usually make our own Play Doh, but Cecilia specifically requested lots of colors this year, so I figured I'd get some as a special Christmas treat.

6. Get outdoors! Stomp Rockets are kind of awesome for all-ages fun if you know the weather will be nice enough to be outside - we tend to have a few warm days that sneak in there in December! Go for a hike, create some homemade bird feeders (watching the birds out the window is one of our favorite activities), or scatter some wildflower seeds in the hopes that they might grow in the spring.

7. Make music! Sing carols and hymns as a family, invite friends over to fill out the sound a bit more, learn some new songs (there are always some gems you've never heard of!). A new CD (this is one of our favorites) keeps our listening library fresh, and a sturdy bluetooth speaker ensures we can listen to streaming music without anyone breaking the CD player or computer...

8. Puzzle time! We've found doing a puzzle together is really fun as long as there's no destructive toddler throwing pieces on the floor or chewing them up - Ravensburger is my favorite brand, but you can easily find decent puzzles at the dollar store!

9. Read! Set aside a special book to give each member of the family and choose a day for everyone to get theirs. Read your new books together (these are some of our Christmas favorites), snuggle up under some warm blankets, and turn on the Christmas lights.

10. Family game night! Make a special snack mix and play board games together - we like to do this when the littlest kids are in bed. Last year Ticket to Ride was our new game, this year we're trying Settlers of Catan.

11. Family movie night! Grab a big bowl of popcorn and watch the classic Miracle on 34th Street or your own holiday favorite.

12. Keep praying! Our Advent morning prayer is always such a nice family prayer time together - try lighting the candles on your Advent wreath (we replace ours with white candles on Christmas) and pray especially for one family on your Christmas card list every day.

What family traditions do you have to keep the Christmas celebration going? I'd love to hear your ideas! And be sure to use the hashtag #twelvedays to share how you're keeping the celebration going!

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