24 Days of Christmas Surprises

I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it was super cute, so I knew I had to try it out my own version this season. I'm nearly done Christmas shopping, but I have to say this simple and inexpensive 24 Days of Christmas Countdown is the thing I've been most excited about so far this season. I can't wait for Kenzie to get home from school and not only see all of the little gifts under the tree, but to see her face when she finds out they're ALL for her is going to be priceless. Who doesn't love to watch their child's eyes light up as they open something special? Now imagine how excited they would be that they get to open something new every day until Christmas!

Now, I know what you're thinking: 24 days of presents? There's no way that's budget-friendly. But it totally is! You could also do this with multiple children very easily - just pick things that are share-able and stick to activities everyone can do together.

Here's how I did it:

About half of my little surprises were things that we usually do at Christmas anyway, and the rest were free or of little cost. I made a list of as many fun Christmas themed activities I could, with some of the ideas coming from the original blog poster for this idea. Some of the things I chose were making fireplace s'mores, putting on a Christmas play for Mom and Dad, and baking gingerbread cookies for Santa. You could do as many or as few free activities as you'd like depending on your budget, but I did about half and half. I looked up cute clip-art to go along with each activity then printed them out on card stock and put each in an envelope I decorated with leftover wrapping paper.

Christmas activities:

  • Create a Christmas scripture chain (here is the link to the Google Doc, by The Things I Love Most)
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Put on a Christmas Play for Mom & Dad
  • Go shopping for your Secret Santa 
  • Make Christmas playdough (homemade in red & green)
  • Sip hot apple cider by the fire
  • Create snowflake cutouts and decorate the house
  • Homemade hot chocolate  & toast before bed
  • Make fireplace S'mores
  • Go look at Christmas lights
  • Make homemade ornaments (salt dough)
  • Bake Gingerbread cookies for Santa

As for the gifts, here's what I came up with:

  • Mug decorating "kit" (white $ store mugs, Sharpies)
  • 2 Christmas movies (found these in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart)
  • 3 $1 Christmas crafts - (I got mine from A.C. Moore)
  • Red & Green Nail Polish ($1.38 each at Wal-Mart)
  • Gingerbread House (we do this every year, so why not wrap it up? it was on sale for $7)
  • Phineus & Ferb Jell-o Mold & Cherry Jell-O (also on sale at Wal-Mart)
  • Christmas slipper socks ($2.88 at Wal-Mart)
  • Christmas themed Fun Dip ($1)
  • Mini Santa shaped chocolates ($1)

I was so excited to get wrapping that I got dumb and forgot to take pictures of all of it unwrapped! Oops. Once I had everything laid out, I numbered each item 1-24. We're a busy family so I even went an extra step and looked at a calendar to make sure the more time-consuming things fall on a weekend if it's before Winter Break for school (such as decorating the ginger bread house). I used the activity  "make a Christmas scripture chain" for Dec. 1, since there are 25 bible verses, one for each day leading up to Christmas.

Can you find the number on the penguin package? 

For the Christmas activities, I simply cut them from the printed card stock and stuck them in some envelopes I'd decorated and numbered with leftover wrapping paper. Some of the gifts I wrapped and others are in bags. The gift bags I got at A.C. Moore 3/$1 and the lunch-sack type bags I got for $0.25/each at Wal-Mart. The numbers are just extra wrapping paper taped to the bags/gifts with a square of card stock that I decorated and numbered. Once I was finished, I put the gifts under the tree and nestled the envelopes within the branches.

One of the things I love most about this project is that you can be as creative or a simple as you'd like. I hope you enjoy making it as much as I did, and I hope your kiddos love it, too!

P.S. Click below to download and print the Christmas activities list. :)
Christmas Fun


Goodbye is Never Easy

Today we said goodbye to our sweet Dixie. She gave Dusty 15 wonderful years of love and loyalty, and we couldn't have asked for a better furbaby to love. My heart will forever have a space reserved just for her. We love you so much sweet girl. ♥

“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief. But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love.” - Hilary Stanton Zunin

Dixie-girl, you were well worth the risk. 


Thirty Days of Thanks - Day Six

Today, on Election day, I'm thankful for our freedom as a country. I'm thankful for those who have fought, those who are still fighting, and those who have died for that freedom. I'm thankful that as I woman I have a say in this country's future with a right to vote. I'm honored to call the United States of America my home, and that we are "One nation, under God, indivisible - with liberty and justice for all."

Check out all of the entries in the Thirty Days of Thanks series:


Thirty Days of Thanks - Day Five

Today I'm thankful for my dad. He's worked hard for as long as I can remember to ensure he could give us everything he possibly could, making sacrifices most would be unwilling to make in order to provide for us. He always has a joke to tell, and his impersonations are gut-achingly hilarious. Thanks Dad, for the life you've provided for us and for always keeping us laughing.

Check out all of the entries in the Thirty Days of Thanks series:


Thirty Days of Thanks - Day Four

My momma is the one person I know I can go to any time I need advice, understanding or just a good laugh. I remember when I was little climbing into her lap, stroking her face and breathing in her scent - she always smelled so good to me and her hugs brought me so much comfort. Or watching countless hours of I Love Lucy reruns and laughing until we cried (Esagebah!!) I strive every day to be more like her, and if I'm even half the mother she is to me I will consider it a victory. 

Check out the rest of my Thirty Days of Thanks series:


Thirty Days of Thanks - Day Three

Today I am thankful for my lovely, spoiled fur-babies, Dixie and Layla. Dixie is fifteen years old; noble, calm, quiet. Layla is two years old; crazy, goofy, and boisterous.

Dixie always knows when you need her most and has a very comforting soul. She has these big doe eyes that are so kind and understanding. She sleeps on the blanket I made her next to our bed every night, and loves to give kisses and cuddle up - she thinks she's a lap dog!

Layla is goofy, playful and full of puppy energy. She sleeps snuggled up to Mackenzie every night, and her cooky ways always keep us laughing. She adores her Princess Ariel cell phone toy (which Kenzie lovingly gave her after she became attached to it) , and carries it around for hours. She even pushes the buttons with her nose!

As far apart in age as they are, and also as different, they sure do love each other, and we are so grateful for them!

Check out all of the entries in the Thirty Days of Thanks series:

Pasta Alfredo w/Peas & Crab

Fettuccine noodles, creamy Alfredo sauce, crisp green peas and sweet lump crab meat will quickly make this dish a family favorite.

What you'll need:
1 (12 oz.) package Fettuccine Noodles
1 jar of your favorite Alfredo Sauce
1/2 bag frozen sweet peas
1 1/4 cups fresh cooked or imitation pre-cooked lump crab meat (Such as Louis Kemp)
Sprinkle of fresh Parmesan Cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. In a medium saucepan, add Alfredo sauce, peas, and crab meat. Warm through over medium heat. Toss with cooked pasta, plenty of black pepper, and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese. Serve hot. 


I know I'm kinda late in the game {hubby had surgery on Thursday and we've been a tad busy} but I'm finally getting around to sharing some of our pictures from Halloween. Kenzie decided she wanted to be a "pretty witch" this year. I pondered how we would pull this off for a bit, then while shopping at Wal-Mart one afternoon I came upon a pair of purple and black striped tights and immediately had a vision for her costume.

This is the third year I've put her costume together myself, and I have to say this one is by far my favorite. Last year she was a purple unicorn, and I still have nightmares of my attempts at hand-sewing a massive mane and tail onto the back of a hand-dyed purple hoodie sweatshirt. Can you say stressful? It was so bad, Dusty bought me my first sewing machine for Christmas that year in hopes he would never have to deal with me in that kind of situation again. ;) Things went much smoother this year.

When she came back from trick-or-treating she said she must've gotten "a hundred million" compliments on it, and she was proud that when asked where she got it she could smile and say, "My mama made it!". Hearing that sure did make my heart smile. Those are the kinds of memories I'll remember most, and it makes the time and effort put into a handmade costume 100% worth it.

The witch hat was purchased at Target ($2.50), the tights from Wal-Mart ($3.99), the tulle (8 yards for $16) as well as the elastic waist band (about $2.49/yard) came from Hancock Fabrics. I purchased her black long sleeve shirt ($6.99) and the transfer paper (about $2.00/sheet - I used 1) from Ben Franklin. I'm sure I probably could have found most of this all in one spot, but I just picked it up little by little as I came across it or was out and about. Maybe I'll set up a tutu tutorial (say that five times fast!). I love the way it turned out and I'm so glad she loved it, too. :)

Hope your Halloween was Happy!


Thirty Days of Thanks - Day Two

Today I am thankful for my beautiful, intelligent, and witty daughter. I love how Mackenzie is her own person - she's passionate and strong willed. She knows what she likes and she stands up for what she believes in. She continues to impress me each and every day with her caring nature, creative mind, abounding energy and  artistic talent {something she definitely didn't get from me}. I am so honored to be her mama and to have the privilege of watching her grow into such a fantastic young lady. I love you, Kenziebear!

Check out all of the entries in the Thirty Days of Thanks series:


Thirty Days of Thanks - Day One

This month, I've decided to do a series of Thirty Days of Thanks. Each day, I'll be sharing with you something I'm thankful for - not just in the month of November, but always.

It still amazes me that I am one of the lucky ones. I think back now and it's actually kind of sad - I had stopped believing in the possibility that real love existed. I had convinced myself that when it came to romantic relationships, true, long lasting love was an illusion. I had stopped believing it was even possible to find someone who not only said they loved you, but proved it on a consistent basis by treating you with dignity and respect.

Dusty came into my life when I least expected it, and within two hours of knowing him, I knew that no matter what became of the the two of us, I was changed forever. I will be forever grateful that God brought us together. It was as if we belonged together all along - he was an immediate best friend and support system, he makes me laugh, but always knows when to be a serious and provide support. Through him I've found a comfort that I never knew. With him, I have a life that I once only dreamed of, yet had stopped believing in. So today {and every day} I'm thankful for my amazing husband.

What are you thankful for today?

Check out all of the entries in the Thirty Days of Thanks Series: