My Mom and I were talking while she was here over Thanksgiving and realized that I’ve spent the past seven Christmases in six different places, haha. #militarylife The year before my daughter was born was when my Mom started her annual tradition of coming to spend Thanksgiving with us. My husband now says Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without my Mom’s cooking. True that. And that’s definitely Man World focus talkin’. In Woman World, however, we focus on more than the food. When my Mom is here, we shop. And by shop, I mean shop-til-we-drop, close-Target-down, everything-in-the-store-is-suddenly-super-cute kind of shop. Which is awesome because I don’t shop during the rest of the year, haha!
The first year she came, Jesse was deployed, and she hated the idea of having to leave me alone when she went back home. So what did we do? We went and got Christmas decorations. I’d moved so much before then, I didn’t have any, and I especially didn’t have any as a married woman. She gifted me with garland, a table runner, my Nutcracker, my Santa, ornaments– you name it. Christmas time for me growing up was a very magical time, and I can tell you it’s because of my Mother, and she passed that magic she felt to us through her decorating and her cooking and the loving Mom-touches everything suddenly seemed to have on it. My Mom is the Spirit of Christmas walking around the rest of the year, so it’s only natural that she’s in her element come December.
Military Housing has been called living “in a box” and living “cookie-cutter.” “Every house is the same.” “Military Housing is so boring.” OK, Mr. Grinch. Just let women loose on a cookie-cutter box and watch some magic happen, alright?
Both of us have champagne taste on a beer budget. Everything, the more expensive commemorative ornaments on the tree,
has all totaled under $300. And that’s over several years.
Target is our go-to, but everything you see below has come from Target,
the Family Christian Bookstore, or the best place to find awesome things if you have some patience on you…. Good Will!
Every year she comes for Thanksgiving since, we add a little bit to the collection– a new ornament, etc. It’s fun seeing the “old stuff” and remembering where we lived when we got that, and it’s fun adding “new stuff” to commemorate our current home. All of it makes up the “good stuff.” Moving so much makes it challenging to really feel settled anywhere, but I can tell you that come Christmastime, that challenge gets to take a break as we unpack the Christmas decorations and welcome the warmth their familiarity brings for awhile.
Thought I’d share some of what’s in our house, especially since my kids love it all…
How cute is this guy? My Mom had a Nutcracker collection when I was growing up and each stood on a stair step of our staircase. It looked beautiful. My Sister and I used to get so excited that Mom would let us set them up. So as a nod to that, Mom gave me this Nutcracker. And he’s in plaid in honor of my Scottish ancestry and, well, love for plaid, hehe. The little tree in burlap is just plain adorable, and the countdown blocks are almost too adorable. It’s super fun changing it every day with Maddelyn– one more thing to help us work on her numbers, too. Everything here came from Target.
Table runner is from Target. Isn’t the shimmer in it lovely? Banner is from Target’s Dollar Spot, and it has red, green, and plaid letters. There is garland and cranberries on the curtain rod above the banner– Mom’s handiwork.
Displaying books for my kids is one of my favorite things to do, and Christmas books are no exception. I’ve watched how irresistible it is for them, seeing the inviting covers, to choose one and go sit with it. Besides, how fun are all those colors??! This is out in our Living Room over in the Kid area with the little table and chairs, the jumper for Drew, and some toys.
(The Spirit of Christmas all the way to the right is by Nancy Tillman. LOVE all her books. And the illustrations are always mesmerizing.)
More books! Windowsill books!
(Sorry for the lighting in some of these pictures. There is an insane amount of natural light in our living room….)
Pillow on the left came from the Family Christian Bookstore, and Mom and I both just loved what it said.
Pillow on the right came from Target.
Our original stockings looked exactly like the ones on the pillow, hence.. the pillow.
This year, however, the stockings got an upgrade, which you’ll see in a sec.
Didn’t do an Advent Calendar growing up. Not sure why. But we are going to do it with Maddelyn and Drew. I LOVE this one that Mom found. It flows with what we’ve got going on in the house, and the little drawers can be more accommodating than little pockets. This year, since Maddelyn is only 2, each drawer has a Christmas activity, and she’s completely eating it up. So far, we’ve made hot chocolate (her first time drinking hot chocolate) and watched a Christmas movie, painted Christmas trees, and put lights on the house. Other activities for later in the month include going to the Living Nativity, visiting Santa, and things like that.
Next year when she’s a little older, I’d like to try a ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ Advent list.
Since I’m a newbie, if you do Advent Calender-ing at your house, I’d love if you comment down below and fill me in on what you do!
Advent Box is from Target.
And here’s our Christmas Movie Collection! *trumpets* What is Christmas without Christmas movies? This cute bucket came from Target, and it’s original job was to hold the Christmas cards, but the movies just looked too fun against the candy cane zig-zag print action. These stay separate from the rest of our movies, only to come out this time of year. There’s everything from A Charlie Brown Christmas to It’s a Wonderful Life to Elf. A few days into the month of December and Maddelyn is already OB-sessed with Frosty the Snowman. It’s fun watching her enjoy the same Christmas movie I enjoyed when I was little, and that my parents enjoyed when they were little.
Speaking of Frosty, this guy came from Good Will. I liked him because he’s soft and cozy-looking, plus he has on plaid– need I say more? Maddelyn loves him. Plus I think he was $1.99– need I say more? The ‘Have yourself a Merry little Christmas’ pallet and the candle both came from Target’s Dollar Section, and the candle seriously smells so good. It smells like a Christmas tree, but actually more Christmas tree-y than other Christmas tree candles I’ve smelled. It had to come home with me. The garland was snipped off the actual Christmas tree.
Chalkboard.. Target Dollar Section.. Score. And it’s just fun to be creative on all year long,
but the time of year I get to do lines of Christmas songs are definitely my fave!
This is what’s going on over our kitchen sink area. It’s nice having a window here! How fun are the little stockings over the window? Everything in this picture came from Target / Target Dollar Spot. The stockings and the sign were in the Dollar Section. Note what Santa is wearing! #plaidoverload My Mom also collected Santas when I was growing up, so it’s special for me to have a Santa from her.
‘All is Calm, All is Bright’ is my favorite line in any Christmas song, so of course, that didn’t stand a chance of remaining at the store.
If you follow my Instagram, you may have picked up on the fact that I bake too much. Cookies, in particular. I don’t know why it’s so stinking soothing, but it just is. I don’t even eat them myself. What’s up with that? Anyway. This magazine is from 2013, but it comes out every year now and gets to sit on the Cookbook holder, on display in its Christmas cookie gloriousness. All the recipes I’ve tried from it so far have been knock-outs, so it’s kind of a gift that keeps on giving. Plus, it’s just super adorable.
Like, to the point where I think that gingerbread cookie should have a name.
Presenting the new Christmas card holder! Sorry, candy cane zig-zag movie-holding bucket.
This basket is also from Good Will, and was only $1. Maddelyn calls it ‘Santa’s Belt Bucket.’
This is next to the Christmas tree, and is just super festive. I love the colors, and what each sign says.
Jesse & I have always loved the Ski Lodge-type feel, so that’s what the Christmas tree has come to channel over the years.
Also, maybe I have a plaid problem? 🙂 It’s just so holiday and so cozy-ing, isn’t it?
The best part has been seeing my children enjoy the magic of the Christmas tree, the Christmas lights, the Christmas movies, the Christmas books, the Christmas activities, and just the overall warmth of the holiday. My Mom and Dad did a phenomenal job making those memories for my Sister and me, and now it’s my turn as the Mom to give them to Maddelyn and Drew. Maddelyn loves taking her time looking at each ornament, and Drew longs for the day I let him actually reach the one he’s grabbing for to shove straight into his 7-month old mouth.
(Not gonna happen, buddy. Sorry.)
My favorite “for fun” ornament is the hot chocolate mug one. Jesse’s is a glass ball with a cardinal sitting on a branch inside of it. Maddelyn loves the keys, and Drew loves the Sock Monkey.
Military Housing can tooootally be plain-jane boring.
But your love and your joy is what makes your home warm, not the house itself.
So cozy your corners– do it on a dime. It’s so fun to find the “good stuff,” at good prices.
Choose a focus-color and pattern (i.e.: red and plaid *eye roll* haha!) and turn your “cookie-cutter box” into your cozy Christmas cabin.
Now it’s time to make some memories. Ready, go!
I hope you’re having a beautiful holiday season so far.
May ‘all be calm,’ and ‘all be bright’ for you and yours.