Holiday Ideas

by HEAB on October 18, 2012

I’ve been attending a mom’s group at a local church here in Nashville.  We listen to a speaker, eat a yummy brunch, and then break out into smaller groups with an older mom serving as the group’s mentor.  It’s nice to discuss mamahood with other women going through similar experiences.  Motherhood fills me with much joy, but some days, it’s just really hard…and by the way, many thanks to the childcare workers that volunteer during the mom’s group to love on my babies!  Anyway, I wanted to share with you some of the ideas we discussed during our last meet-up regarding holiday traditions.

 The leaves are finally changing, and I feel like fall is in full-swing.  Love this time of year!

Holidays were a huge deal for my family growing up, and I loved all of our traditions.  I’d like to pass some of them on to the kids, but Chris and I also hope to create new traditions of our very own.

Leaves collected on a recent walk.


  • Go to the local pumpkin patch and pick out pumpkins.  We have some wonderful farms nearby that offer corn mazes and hay rides, and we hope to go to one this weekend.
  • Go apple picking and then make an apple crisp or pie.

Summer and I got crafty and made Halloween decor out of old nut butter jars (inspired by these).

Some of the fun holiday traditions others shared:


  • Cut leaves from construction or scrapbooking paper, write on each leaf what you are thankful for, string them up and make a Thankful Garland.  Or, make a handprint turkey and write what you are thankful for on each feather.


  • Pajama Night – Sometime during the holiday season, pack up some hot chocolate and cookies and wake up the kids.  Pack everyone into the car in their pajamas and drive around looking at Christmas lights while eating cookies and sipping hot cocoa.

Me & Summer in our Christmas PJ’s last year.  Twins were there too – in my belly. 🙂

  • Purchase a Nativity set and take the kids to pick out a new piece for the set every year. Side note – my younger brother and I fought over who got to set up the Nativity every year, and once, while unpacking our Christmas decorations, my mom found a note that I had written, wrapped around the Baby Jesus saying it was my turn that year.  Not very Jesus-like, but my mom was pretty amused.

Valentine’s Day

  • Eat an all-red dinner.  A salad with tomatoes, red bell peppers, craisins, etc., stuffed red peppers, pasta with tomato sauce, red pepper hummus, tomato soup, red velvet cupcakes, apple crisp, etc.  The possibilities are endless.


And for a rainy day…

  • Paint a large cardboard box, and it magically transforms into a fort.  Or, make a pillow fort.  My brother and I loved our pillow forts!
  • A dining table picnic – Cover the dining room table in blankets or sheets and picnic in your tent.
  • Save the plastic eggs leftover from Easter and hold year-round egg hunts in the house.  Even better, fill the eggs with various trinkets and prizes.
  • Sock matching game – Dump different family members’ socks onto the floor and let the kids match all the socks.  Then return the socks back to the proper owners’ room.
  • Washable finger paints in the bathtub.  When finished, simply take a bath.
  • Blanket bath – Throw a bunch of blankets in the tub and take a bath.  Fun for mom too. Thanks for the idea Leonie!

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions or rainy day activities?



Cara (Twinthusiast) November 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Love the ideas, especially the “red” dinner. My dad used to make green pancakes and paint our faces with shamrocks every St. Patrick’s day and I LOVED it as a kid.

Theresa October 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I LOVE your holiday ideas! I want to do some many of these! Your blogging is inspirational, as always. I think the baby Jesus story is hysterical!

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Thanks Theresa. 🙂

Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning October 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I love your holiday ideas!! And PJs on Christmas are a must! My husband and I don’t have any kids, but have established some of our own traditions. We go to the pumpkin patch to pick out the PERFECT pumpkins and then have a pumpkin carving contest right before Halloween each year (yes, with just the two of us!) and drink pumpkin beer.
We both lived in the same town growing up (and didn’t know each other!) and always drive over there (it’s about 30 minutes away) to look at Christmas lights right before Christmas each year.
I love the “red” valentine’s day idea too. My friend Sara presented that idea to her daughter’s preschool last year, after the other moms agreed that having a “candy buffet” would be a good idea. Luckily, they agreed that her idea was probably a better choice!
And again- why did I think you lived in Colorado? I SWORE you did! Let’s all move there… I’ll bring Heather too. 🙂

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Love that you and your husband are creating your own family traditions. So fun. Also happy to hear the “red” day beat out the candy buffet. Endless amounts of candy + preschoolers? Bad idea.

CD and I used to spend our summers out in Colorado, and so a lot of people assumed we lived there…and oh how I wish we did! In fact, we just returned from a 2-day trip to Denver and Ft. Collins. Love that state so very much!

Reba Cox October 23, 2012 at 9:37 am

Every year around Christmas time my mom and I would go into full blown baking mode. My mom isn’t a great cook but she is one heck of a baker. We would make peanut brittle, marzipan, chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, spice cookies, chex mix, roasted nuts and much much more. I really valued the time together in the kitchen. To this day we still get together to make something tasty even with limited time!

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Oh my gosh, totally sounds like our house. My mom baked for weeks every year. She’d make a ton of homemade candy and baked goods and then make goodie trays for all of our friends and teachers. Some of my favorite holiday memories. 🙂

Liz (formerly VeggieGirl) October 23, 2012 at 6:11 am

Love this!!! Holidays are such wonderful times and make beautiful memories. My family and I always decorate for holidays together, so that’s a fun activity.

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Finally responding to comments on this post and just realized we still haven’t chatted. That is not good. NOT GOOD AT ALL. Must text you soon!

Liz (formerly VeggieGirl) November 6, 2012 at 4:11 am

YES, PLEASE!!!!!! I miss you terribly!!! Text me soon xo

Kimberly Early October 22, 2012 at 10:52 am

Love Summer’s sweet little hand in the picture of the leaves. 🙂 Hope you are all doing well! I think about you a lot. XOXO

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Thanks Kimberly, I think about you too. Coming back to Nashville this year? Please let me know if you’re ever in town again!

Brittany October 22, 2012 at 10:36 am

I was just working on a similar post myself as I want to start some new family traditions – get away from all the candy junk at Halloween and the materialness of Christmas. Where did you find your local mommy group? I’ve been wanting to find or start something similar to that… Glad to see you posting again m’dear! Brittany

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Hi Brittany,
One of my friends emailed me about the group. I’m not a member of the church where it meets, and I think a lot of other churches offer something similar. Google local MOP’s groups in your area, and I hope you’re able to find a good one. I really enjoy mine.
P.S. Thanks for reading – good to be back when I have the time. 🙂

Anna @ On Anna's Plate October 21, 2012 at 9:16 am

I love this post. I feel like one of the most fun things about having a kid so far (and Lila is only six months old!) is getting to celebrate holidays in a “child-like” way. I can’t wait to pass on some of my family traditions to her– and create new ones, of course. 😉

Love y’all’s Halloween craftiness!

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:32 pm

I agree. The pumpkin patches, the Easter egg hunts, etc. – so much more fun with kids! 🙂

Mary October 21, 2012 at 7:20 am

We have loved our play mobil nativity set, the kids can then play with the Christmas story and it is ok while the nice one is left to be pretty and safe. Target usually stocks them and we have gotten years of play from ours. Great ideas, lots of sweet memories to make!

Erin October 20, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Love you Heather! Think I’ll take a blanket bath tomorrow 😉 This is a great post. I love when we gt little glimpses of what’s real and on your heart. I’ll probably suggest this to my SIL; she’s staying at home now with second nephew due in January. Fall looks gorgeous where you are. xo

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Love you too Erin, and I hope you enjoyed your bath! 🙂

Meagan October 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Heather! This was so fun to read 🙂 I love the idea of the “all red dinner” and Christmas light excursion in the middle of the night!!

Natalie October 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

love these ideas! and trying to come up with traditions. Rainy days we pick a craft to do together!

Shauna October 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm

MOPS saved my bacon when my kids were little. I was so grateful for it and learned so much. Glad to hear you have a good group.

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Thanks Shauna. Me too. 🙂

Ana October 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I went to a similar group here too when Matheus was at Summer’s age (it was called MOPs!). It was really nice to be able to interact with other moms who understood what I was going through, and Matheus made little friends too 🙂
All nice ideas you have in this post Heather! We are doing something very similar to those votive candles in nut butter jar for Matheus fall learning experience next week, they will be doing the votives with the paper and then gluing small leaves to them to make it fall-themed 🙂
Pajama day is also something we do for Christmas day here at our house, and when Matheus was about Summer’s age I bought a Playmobil nativity set. Matheus loved it at the time, we still have it and put it up every year on Christmas time!
It was nice to have a nativity set he liked so much and that I wasn’t worried about breakage or anything of the like, plus it made our decorations much more fun, I love having a child at my house, it makes it all more happy all around.

Ps: here is the link for a set like the one we have:

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Yes, the group I go to is similar to MOP’s, and I’m so grateful for it! Thanks for the link to the Playmobil nativity set. Another commenter mentioned loving it as well. It’s so cute.

Ozlem October 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Heather- great ideas!! Thanks for sharing.

Mine are not creative at all but here it goes:

I have millions of cookie cutters and make and bake holiday theme appropriate cookies and decorate them. Kids love this activity. I get real great cookie cutters from Williams Sonoma.

For birthdays cake is nice but as the kids get older we LOVE to go to Little Italy and get a giant Gelto sundae and dig in. The kids love to pick out the flavor and we all have a great time.

BTW I am totally going for the all red dinner idea for Valentine’s Day. In the past I had made heart shaped pancake breakfast (using my cookie cutters) with whipped cream and strawberries on Valentine’s Day but this is even better.

Oh and we get Chinese Food on Chinese New Year. Kids love that!

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:28 pm

I love the sundae idea – much easier than baking and sounds like such a fun tradition!

leah October 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm

One of our favorite rainy day activities is a cupcake decorating party. We make cupcakes and then I fill a muffin tin with different toppings like raisins, chocolate chips, coconut, etc. and they get to decorate to their hearts’ content.

We’re also crazy about old movies. So fun to make popcorn and watch Andy Griffith while rain falls outside. :0)

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:27 pm

That’s a great idea – I used to love decorating cookies growing up and cupcakes would be so much fun.
P.S. CD is a HUGE Andy Griffith fan. Seriously – I think we have 80+ episodes of Matlock DVR’d, and he’d totally move us to Mayberry if he could.

Jess October 19, 2012 at 4:38 am

Love these traditions! So sweet! I have to admit I’m not naturally crafty- but I wish I was. My husband has ton of traditions he did with his mum – some cool and some super odd. So we are picking what works. Christmas is my all time favourite! I’m one of three and your story about you and your bro reminds
Me so much of my sister and my bro. I was the youngest so it was never my turn! Haha

Lou October 19, 2012 at 1:04 am

CUTE…. love that little hand reaching for those Fall leaves…. hehehe. How amazing is the colour of that tree!?

Your traditions (new + old) sound fab…. we don’t have many (yet) but a BBQ and beach cricket on Xmas Day is a given….. as is a surf, and a sand castle extravaganza 🙂 (Someone usually will get buried – whoever has drunk too many beers!)

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:24 pm

I’d love to spend Christmas with you guys! I’ll bring a shovel. 😉

Lou November 5, 2012 at 11:30 pm

You and the fam are welcome anytime, HEABie…. come on, experience a Southern hemisphere Christmas!! Hope you are all well xx

Sarah October 18, 2012 at 11:27 pm

Please tell me that Blanket Baths count as a stand-in for actual baths or showers. Because if so, I am in.

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Yes, yes, they can. Just put on a little extra deodorant that day. 😉

Katie October 18, 2012 at 10:23 pm

We do the pajama hot cocoa light-seeing tour thing too! I love it!

Growing up, we made a fall trip to a state park and spent an afternoon building a HUGE leaf pile and jumping in it. Then, we’d collect leaves and bring them home and color over them. Put the leaf on the table with a piece of paper on top and color away. So much fun!

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Love the leaf piling and coloring. We used to color over leaves in elementary school, and I’d forgotten all about it. Must remember that for next fall. Such an easy and fun are project.

Kerry @ Totes My Oats October 18, 2012 at 9:46 pm

You’ve got some great traditions! Picking out pumpkins and a real Christmas tree are things we always do. We also watch Christmas Vacation while decorating the tree – love that movie!

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Me too! Chris had never seen it, and so we watched it together last year on Christmas Eve. Love me some Clark W. Griswold. 🙂

Averie @ Averie Cooks October 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm

We go away every year for the holidays. Everyone in the family looks forward to it for months and months leading up to it – it’s our thing. We skip presents entirely and just do the trip and it’s 100% worth it and in so many ways, easier! No shopping. The trip is the present 🙂 Love your list and all your ideas!

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I love that your family goes away every year. You get to focus on each other rather than getting all wrapped up in gift giving and stress of shopping, buying for each other, etc. Sounds perfect to me!

lindsay October 18, 2012 at 8:47 pm

i think you and my sis in law are twins. you have such great ideas! the all red sounds fun! i’m thinking tomatoes, red beans and rice, and uh.. RED snapper?

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Hehe, your comment had me giggling (sorry, but I just can’t bring myself to type LOL even though it really did make me laugh audibly). 😉

Lorne October 18, 2012 at 8:38 pm

What a fantastic post Heather! I love all the ideas you have shared. We don’t celebrate Halloween here in NZ but I do love to collect ideas to be adapted for Christmas celebrations.

Oh and the story about your brother and yourself is CLASSIC!


JoNell October 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm

My daughter has three little girls, and last year, they did the “Elf on the Shelf” thing…very cute idea! It has a book that goes with the figurine, and my Granddaughters were in awe of the fact that the elf was in a different spot every morning. Clementine, who’s 5, was especially conscious of her behavior, since the elf was watching!

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Funny, because I had never heard of the Elf on the Shelf until a few years ago, and now it seems like every family with young children does it. So funny about Clementine. Too cute. 🙂

Alyssa (azusmom) October 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm

“Sock Matching Game,” eh? Sounds suspiciously like “get the kids to match the socks so I don’t have to.”
I LIKE it!!!!!!!!

Last year on Thanksgiving we drove up to a town called Stinson Beach. The kids played on the beach and then at a nearby playground, then we drove home and had dinner. It was perfect!

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Haha, yes! Best idea for a matching game ever.
P.S. Love your Thanksgiving Day from last year – I think that sounds like a great tradition in the making. 🙂

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance October 18, 2012 at 7:33 pm

The dining table picnic idea is awesome! I love it. The list in general is great…traditions are a fantastic thing to have–the memories they create last a lifetime.

Amy October 18, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Sounds like a MOPs group? I enjoy mine, too. I second the pumpkin patch and Christmas lights. My son was a giraffe last Halloween and we spent a day at the zoo (in Oct.) in his costume. This year, he’ll be a train conductor and we recently did the Day Out with Thomas (he wore his costume). I wonder what next year brings, but I hope he can spend an extra day in costume! 🙂

HEAB November 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Yes, my moms group is similar to a MOP’s group, and I’m so grateful for it. Costumes are so fun, no? This year, the whole family went as Chicago sports fans. Between the five of us, we had the Bears, the Cubs, the White Sox, and the Bulls covered. 🙂

Tracy October 18, 2012 at 7:25 pm

I love so many of these ideas! It’s fun to think back on the traditions that have evolved over the years in our family. Some have come from our own families and some our very own. This is definitely the time of year for them!

And I love fall, too. The trees here in Kansas City are about as pretty as I have ever seen them. It’s been a beautiful fall!

It sounds like you have a wonderful mom’s group!!

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