Sometimes I wonder why I started the Elf on the shelf tradition. Over the years, I have had several nights where I've shot out of bed in the middle of the night or wee hours of the morning to move the darn thing. Anyone else?! But when I see the excitement in my girl's eyes in the morning, it makes it all worth it. My youngest daughter is in on it this year. She giggles and waves every morning when they finally spot Penelope, our elf.
To encourage the love & excitement for reading, we put out a new holiday themed book every day. My oldest daughter has always sat and listened as we read books to her but my youngest hasn't proven to enjoy reading quite the same. Lately, I have been able to get her to sit through a book by assigning her the special task of turning the page. She now sits in my lap and waits quietly anticipating her time to 'perform' her special task.
I wanted to share the books we are reading in case you are interested in picking up a couple for your family. Since I do not want to store 25+ holiday books, I checked out several books from the library to help complete our collection for the month.
Along with books, I stocked up on a few crafts to do with the girls over the next few weeks. On the first day of December my girls received a Activity book that we keep at the kitchen table. They can color on the page while I prep lunch or before dinner. It's a fun place to jot down memories for the year like what they ask Santa for & other little memories. At Target, I stocked up on a few other crafts, like a cardboard Gingerbread house to decorate with markers along with a white canvas stocking to color on. I am excited to share these with the girls soon.
Back to books...One of my favorite books to read, especially if I'm reading it to a crowd of kiddos is Ten on a Sled, the rhyme makes it a fun read that is exciting for the kiddos to listen to and I love that it incorporates counting.
Every month I host a Big & Lil Chef cooking class where we first read a story then make a snack that relates to the story we read. I have read so many books over the years and am quite picky with what I will read in front of my class. I also have a "santa's helper" that helps me research and choose books. My girls Uncle, Danny, researches books and requests them from the library and then delivers a new pile of books each month for my girls to read. We are extremely lucky to have an uncle like Danny. He also takes them on movie outings and frozen yogurt treats. This past weekend he took my youngest to the movies, a feat I am not even brave enough to take on quite yet. Kiddos Uncle D!
You can see the titles above that we are reading but a few books to add to your must read list:
Ten on a Sled
The Smallest Gift of Christmas
How to Catch a Santa
Turkey Claus (although not as great as Turkey Trouble, my favorite Thanksgiving book)
Olive, the Reindeer
Catch that Cookie
The Night before Christmas
The Christmas Wish
Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas
The Bernstein Bears: The Joy of Giving
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Snowmen at Christmas
Because I have the books as a prop I haven't done anything too crazy with our Elf. Last year he did make snow angels on my favorite holiday platter which happened to be located on the floor. I was holding the baby, mis-stepped, tried to recover and accidentally stepped on the platter, shattering it. My husband did the best he could to super glue it together as I was devastated.
Christmas Tree Pretzels: One of my favorite food crafts to make with kids this time of year is a Candy Christmas tree. You can serve them as is or use them to decorate cupcakes or cake. They are quite simple to make as well all you need are green melting candy (hint: buy the green melting candies do not try to dye white chocolate), pretzel sticks, sprinkles, parchment or wax paper and a ziplock freezer bag. Melt the candy in the freezer bag in microwave for 30 second increments, snip a tiny hole in the corner. Align pretzels in a row on the parchment paper with 2-3 inches in between. Drizzle melted chocolate in a triangle covering 1/2 of the pretzel. Sprinkle on sprinkles before the candy dries. Let air dry for 30 minutes or place in the fridge to harden. Viola!
Whatever you do this Holiday season, I hope you can enjoy it. Sometimes we get caught up in our to-do's that we rush through the day checking off our list. I encourage you to do just what you can, what makes you happy, and what helps you to truly connect with your kiddos.