Santa!

On December 5 we took Wyatt to meet Santa for the first time. We skipped the mall and met up with Santa at the downtown Marriott. There were no lines, no crowds, and no fuss. It was perfect!

Wyatt did not cry and was mostly just intrigued by the big guy in the red suit. We took our time taking lots of pictures and enjoyed a lovely day downtown with both my mom and Ryan’s mom. 

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It was a good day. Ryan and I are both Christmas fanatics and the holidays are so much fun this year (even if the little guy has no clue what is going on.) We are soaking up all his holiday “firsts” and truly enjoying the season.   

 

 

It was a good day! 

5 Reasons I Celebrate Christmas “Early”

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This year there seems to be more ho0-ha about people celebrating Christmas too early. The internet is saying that some people think this is a big no-no and that they are forgetting all about Thanksgiving.  I don’t know why this year seems worse than overs – every year stores start putting out Christmas items and decor at the end of September. Have no fret, worry worts, we will all still take the time to be grateful for all our blessings, stuff our faces, and enjoy down time with our family’s over turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving isn’t going to disappear.

(Although I  STRONGLY disagree with Black Friday now starting on Thursday, tearing retail workers away from their families and the right to take a long cozy nap after that carb overload and encouraging individuals to shop in a crowded mall instead of sitting around catching up with their families and leftovers.)

Christmas is my most favorite time of the year. I love that it gives an excuse to make every one be kind to each other and to celebrate. I feel all warm and fuzzy all season long.

As of today, I am all done shopping (minus some stocking stuffers), have the house nearly decorated, our Christmas cards are ready to go, and have planned out our holiday festivities – Christmas movie watching, Baileys hot chocolate sipping, tree cutting down and decorating, festive holiday party throwing and attending, cookie baking and decorating and so on.

So, to clear up some questions for you Scrooges out there that think Christmas celebrations should be strictly held off until midnight on December 1 (at the earliest) here are my 5 favorite reasons to celebrate Christmas “early”.

1. I’d rather spend the month of December reveling in all the Holiday Cheer

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I like to get all the Christmas errands, shopping for gifts, shopping for wrapping paper and tape (why am I always running out of tape?), shopping for all your cooking and baking ingredients, cleaning up your guest bedrooms, etc so that I can actually relax and enjoy all the fun activities and events in December.

I’d rather spend my time cuddling with Ryan watching Christmas movies with some spiked hot chocolate than rushing around last-minute trying to find the perfect gift for the in-laws. I’d rather spend my time listening to our favorite Christmas music and decorating sand tarts with my mom rather than bailing because I haven’t had time to dig out my Christmas ornaments yet. I’d rather put the finishing touches on my holiday outfit and relax with a glass of champagne before my guests arrive  than cursing myself because I have to run out to the store AGAIN to pick up napkins 30 minutes before the holiday party starts.

There is simply too much to do (and eat) to squeeze it all in a few short weeks.

Thanksgiving is very late this year which only allows a short 3.5 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are too many parties, too many events, too many movies to watch and tunes to listen to, and old and new recipes to make. I never can seem to squeeze all that I want to do during the holidays in. Add the fact that Christmas is on a Wednesday this year, which means only one day of work off that week. Boo! So really only 3 weekends to do all the things you need and want to do.  So, why not start earlier? Why limit yourself on Christmas cheer?

2. Less last-minute stress

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I love Christmas, but there is no doubt that the holidays are stressful. You are often pulled in five billion directions between family and friends and you also want to fit in some reflective down time for yourself. More money is being spent, you’re under pressure to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list and there is the daunting pressure of New Years Eve looming in the future. There is a sense of urgency around it all.

By starting early, I give myself some breathing space the week before Christmas. This allows me time to reflect on the past year and for the blessings I’ve received. I can take time to spend time with friends and family and do the things that make me happiest. You’ll never find me running out to the stores the week before Christmas. A crowded mall is the last place I’d ever want to be.

3.  Spread out the budget

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You’ll never find me rushing around on Christmas Eve sweating over what to get my great Aunt and finding myself spending $40.00 on a ridiculous bird tray because I couldn’t decide between another scented candle or necklace she’d probably never wear?  I like to spread out my shopping throughout the six months prior to Christmas. Not only does this put less pressure on finding the perfect gift in a short time frame it’s also easier on my budget.

From August to December, I allow a certain amount of money each month to go towards Christmas gifts. I often discover unique gifts for people while travelling or while I’m not under pressure. There are deals all the time – so don’t you worry about all those “Holiday Saving Events”. At least this way I’m not pinching for pennies to pay for all the additional things you find yourself buying or paying for during the holiday season.

4. You get to enjoy the decorations longer

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I love to decorate – it take a full weekend to get everything lugged up from the basement and to decide that year’s decoration scheme. Fact: Ryan and I spent a full 1.5 hours on Wednesday night hanging the garland on our banister. We just couldnt’ seem to get it “just so”. Since it takes so much effort and work to decorate – why not enjoy it for as long as you can?

I dread the day I have to take everything down and hide it away in the basement for another 10 months. The house always looks so depressed, so empty, so cold after all the festive decor goes away.

5. It makes me happy and relaxed

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There is no simpler way to say this. The holidays make me feel wonderful inside. Love is all around. I love the comfort of knowing all the words to my beloved Christmas tunes. I love knowing that I can throw on a feel good holiday movie at any time. I love the lights, the trees, the decor, the cookies, it’s all so beautiful and magical. I love the memories of innocence and childhood it brings up. I love that my family all comes together and celebrates the same exact way we have since I was born. I love all the traditions.

I love that everyone is happier this time of year. I love that it gives us a reason to be grateful to be more loving and to be more accepting. I wouldn’t put that off any longer than I have to.

What is your opinion on starting to celebrate Christmas before you cut the turkey on Thanksgiving day?

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xoxo katie

 

5 Friday Favorites – Gifts that Give Back

Five Friday Favorites

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It’s November 1, and do you know what that means? It’s officially okay to start thinking about Christmas! It’s been trying to push its way to the forefront of our minds since early October. Which even I can agree is a little to early. Give pumpkins a chance! But now that Halloween is over – it’s time to get ready for the most magical time of the year!

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We love Christmas around here. In fact, I caught Ryan listening to Christmas music last Sunday while prepping dinner and lately every time I trek down into our basement, I swear I can hear the Christmas decorations begging me to take them out to play!

I’ve already started my Christmas shopping and thought I’d share some of my finds from stores that give back to charitable organizations. You’re going to be buying gifts anyways – why not give a gift that also gives support to those desperately in need? The benefits are three-fold – you’ll feel good about purchasing the gift, the receiver will receive a unique gift, and someone in need will be receiving support and motivation. Spread the love this holiday season!

There are SO many charitable organizations that sell gifts whose proceeds benefit their cause. It was hard to select my top 5. I based them all on the level of their donation. All of the products below donate at least 50% of the proceeds to their cause.  Here are 5 amazing organizations to add to your holiday shopping list!

1. Haiti Babi

 Baby Blankets – Perfect for the new mother

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Did you know that 1 in 10 children in Haiti live in an orphanage? Each purchase of a baby blanket employs a woman in Haiti in order for her to care for and educate her own children so they do not have to be sent to an orphanage. Help empower women whose empowerement will impact their family and community.  

2. Caring Cowls

Beautiful homemade  and fashionable acrylic scarves

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Caring Cowls is a small Etsy shop that made trendy and made to order scarves. All proceeds go to a charity. Currently, Caring Cowls is funding for Action Against Hunger. (A different charity is selected each year) I’ve ordered a scarf for myself and can’t wait to receive it!

3. One Hope Wine

Moderately priced wine

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The perfect hostess gift of item to buy for that hard to shop for boss or friend who has it all – wine! One Hope sells a plethora of moderately priced wine and donates 50% of the proceeds go to charitable organizations and causes including:  breast cancer prevention and treatment, pediatric AIDS prevention and treatment, Autism research and treatment , US forest preservation and protection, and ending childhood hunger.  Since 2007, 1 million dollars have been raised. Drink up!

4. The Giving Keys

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The Giving KeysThe Giving Key is a organziation who employs and aids those who are looking to transition out of homelessness. They collect used keys and hand stamp them with motivational words, like Fearless, Believe, Hope, Love, and Breathe. When the wearer of the key encounters someone else who needs the message on the key, they give it away and then send us the story of their key being paid forward.

Founder Caitlin Crosby sums it up best, “I think its fascinating that pounding out positive words, over and over for hours can improve a persons well-being, hope and motivation. And when you know that each unique key is being paid forward and passed around the world to people who need a little inspiration… well, that makes all of us feel so grateful; makes us understand that we are part of a love movement.”

5. Threads by The Shine Project 

The Shine Project Threads by The Shine Project sells trendy and beautiful jewelry hand-made by at risk youths. 1 in 5 American children live in poverty. The Shine Project focus is on education. They employ at risk youth that wish to break the cycle and to attend college. Your purchase will directly impact a student. Each purchase helps to fund a young adult’s college education and empowers them to have hope and strive to accomplish their dreams.

Together, we can bring change! What other charitable organizations do you love to shop at? Please share and happy holidays.

Love each other.

xoxo katie