December 18, 2017

Christmas Time At Our House In Washington, D.C.

Christmas tree

Holiday on DCIt’s Christmas and this is one of the first years I’m really excited.  I know, I know.  It’s not that I don’t like Christmas.  I do.  I always have.   But a few factors have played into my previous lack of enthusiasm.  First, we are the only family members who do not live in the same hometown that we grew up in.  Which means, most family members are toggling between in-laws within a few mile drive.  Jeff and I are logging hours and hours in our car.  Which plays into the second factor – kids. After planning as to how we are going to spend our time at each location, then lug everyone and everything into the car, we inevitably will be waking up in a house that is not our own.  Growing up you have this idea that your kids will do the same as you did.  Lay in your own bed on Christmas Eve, then rush downstairs the instant you wake.  Being hours away doesn’t make this feasible.

OK, enough with the self pity.   We arestill traveling to Pennsylvania and New Jersey this holiday, but somehow, this year is a little different.

Christmas tree

I can’t exactly pinpoint how, but I think creating a personalized Advent Calendar had something to do with it.  Since I have been writing down my daily affirmations to bring more positivity into my life {more on that here}, this seemed like a great way to celebrate the season.  I was searching for Christmas ideas on Pinterest and came across a few I like.  Now, I am not super crafty but occasionally take on a DIY project.  I liked the idea of little boxes that surprised the kids with a fun activity.  Not to mention holiday treats!

Advent calendar

Before I gathered the supplies, I mapped out what our December would look like.  I started thinking about it right after Halloween.  Some holiday favorites were obvious – decorate the tree, visit Santa, make Christmas cookies.  But then a few took a little planning.  For instance, there are many fun things to do around DC during the holidays.  We needed to coordinate timing and availability.  The two most unique are the ICE! exhibit at the Gaylord Hotel and the Joy of Christmas at the National Cathedral.

Ice at national harbor

The ICE Exhibit is technically outside of the city in Maryland at the National Harbor.  We live in Capitol Hill and it’s a short drive away.  This year, the theme was Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer so we started to jog the kids memory right after Thanksgiving.  The exhibit itself is millions of pounds of ice, sculpted into the characters and scenery of this classic movie.  It’s kept to a shivering 9 degree temperate so you are required to wear parkas.  {At 2 years old, Marielle looked like a blue penguin waddling around}.  The best part for the kids is a slide made of ice. Yes, just pure ice at freezing cold temperatures.  While I was reminded of my cryo experience the kids kept going for more.  We literally had to pry them off the slide as my hand was about to go numb from taking pictures with no gloves on.  Take note if you plan on going.

Joy of christmas

The second was the choir at the National Cathedral. Now, this was a parenting moment of what sounds like a great idea and what actually is a good idea are not entirely the same.  This is a beautiful event of joyous music being sung by a choir. So Christmasy, right?  However, when your kids are this little it really wasn’t the family event I was hoping for. Maybe in a few years.  As a silver lining, it was really nice to see the kids all dressed up, even for a short time.

Christmas in DC

National Christmas tree

A few other excursions that were on our list but weren’t able to fit in included the museum at the B&O Railroad where they go all out with trains and the tree at the Library of Congress. Living so close to the Botanical gardens we did stop by one morning to catch the train display.  As well as the trains at Union Station and the National Christmas Tree.

Back to the Advent Calendar.  On the days were we weren’t ‘doing’ something, I put in some holiday treats. I tried to keep it interesting and mix it up.  For example, one day was ‘Have Hot Cocoa’ and I paired it with these cute marshmallow sticks from Paper Source.  I also tried to add a global touch.  I included Panettone, Scandinavian  Tidings {these were from my favorite Trader Joes.  Basically Swedish Fish in the shape of trees, ornaments and stars}, as well as Chocolate Coins during Hanukah.

Advent calendar odeas

Personal advent calendar

Advent calendar

Now again, since I’m not super crafty the execution of this Advent Calendar was not exactly how I planned.  However, it did serve it’s purpose in bringing pure joy to the kids each morning when opening the new box.  My thinking is to do more of a tabletop calendar next year.  If you are so inclined to recreate this version, here are the materials I used:



Board:  I struggled to find an affordable board.  My kids have a Drip Oil Pan in their playroom for magnets, which I borrowed.

Fabric:   Linen

Boxes:  Mache Boxes  Also on Amazon here

Gold Foil Labels: Paper Source

Velcro: Roll

Message Paper: Paper Source

Sweets:  Norwegian Candy, Chocolate Coins, Star Cookies and Pantiontte from Trader Joes.  Hot Chocolate Stirrers and  Sugarfina Reindeer Noses from PaperSource.  Baci and Ferrer Roche chocolates from Radici Market.


Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!



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