Here it is, early January. It’s cold, rainy, and I just want to rewind time to go back to the beginning of the holiday season (even if it WAS in 2020…) Anyone else with me?
The holidays were such a wonderful distraction from everything going on in the world today. We did ALL the things in my house: baked, watched holiday movies, played holiday music, decorated, decorated, and decorated more, wrapped presents, sent cards, made cute projects. The table was completely destroyed with the remnants of all of this merriment, but my heart was FULL.
Last night, my sweet 5-year-old daughter Rose was crying big tears when I told her we have to take the Christmas tree down today. I’m not going to lie, thinking about how wonderful the break was, I totally got choked up as well. I’m just not ready to take everything down and get back to “normal.”
Not this year.
So, what can we do mama? How can we hold onto the magic of the holidays through the long, cold, Covid days ahead?
Not to worry, I’ve got ya mama! What we can do is challenge ourselves to think outside of the box and get to the heart of what makes the holiday season so special. Then we can create memories that capture that magic for our families ALL YEAR LONG.
Aside from religious/cultural reasons why it’s a special time of year. I think Christmas is so magical because:
- There’s anticipation of something wonderful happening.
- Our houses are transformed by decorations.
- We come together as a family to do fun things together.
- We cook delicious food.
So, how do we bring that kind of magic into our EVERYDAY lives as we wait for life to return to a sense of normalcy?
Two words: THEME NIGHTS. Yep, theme nights.
We did this as a family before the holidays and it was hands down the HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR! It was SO fun to plan together, look forward to, and then celebrate as a family.
How does it work?
Everyone in the family takes turns picking a theme for that week (or month, depending on how often you want to have them). The theme can be based on your child’s favorite movie or characters, a certain cuisine, a special country, or a favorite restaurant you can’t go to right now. Any idea you can build a few decorations and a menu around will work.
Here are the Theme Nights we celebrated in 2020:
- Hawaii Night
- Christmas in July
- Japan (Sushi Night for this Mama! 😉 )
- Wayfare Tavern
Hawaii night was our first theme night. We miss Hawaii terribly, it’s basically me and my hubby’s happy place. So, we decked out the backyard with some inexpensive Hawaiian decor, put on Hawaiian music, dressed up in our Hawaiian clothes, and learned how to make some of the dishes we were missing.
The menu was:
- Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Pulled Pork (courtesy of my hubs who is crazy good with the smoker)
- Huli Huli Grilled Chicken Wings – The sleeper hit of the night
- Dole Whip for dessert! (Yep, we went there.)
- Mai Tais (for mom and dad)
It was SO MUCH FUN! The kids loved it, we loved it. It was seriously like taking a vacation without leaving the house. I know that may sound silly, but as I was sitting at the table, feeling the breeze on my face and listening to the gorgeous music, my brain made the same calming associations it does when we’re there on vacation.
After Hawaii night was such a success, I knew it had to be a recurring thing. It was Rose’s turn to choose the next theme and (big shocker) she picked Frozen. 🙂
We made Frozen treats, hung snowflakes I bought on Amazon from the ceiling, got out the Elsa and Anna cutouts we had saved from Rose’s 3rd birthday, dressed up, put the movie on and danced and sang the hours away. The kids were absolutely over the moon!
Japan Night or “Mommy’s Excuse to Eat Sushi Night,” as I affectionately called it, was another smash hit! Did you know that with the right tools it’s actually not very hard at all to make a California roll or a Shrimp Tempura roll?? All of those years of paying for over-priced sushi and I learned how to make it in one night off of one recipe.
The kids and I had a blast painting a faux mural for the wall. My hubby, Jon, and I talked to them about Japanese culture and showed them where Japan is on the globe. We got a $9 bottle of Sake and made a whole night of it. We had SO MUCH fun! (And this mama got her long-awaited sushi!) 😉
In our “old lives” we placed so much importance on “going out” to create fun memories on the weekends. We spent so much money on restaurants where, with the kids, to be honest, it wasn’t super enjoyable anyway. These theme nights are so inexpensive and the memories we have made as a family are so much richer. I couldn’t tell you where we went out for dinner in July 2019, but I can absolutely tell you that in July 2020 we celebrated “Christmas in July.”
We made paper snowflakes outside in 90 degree heat and put up a strand of white Christmas lights in the den. Then we snuggled in under blankets, made hot chocolate, and watched a Christmas movie. At the time, Christmas felt so far away and it was the perfect night.
I’ll share more details from the other theme nights in upcoming posts, but for now, here are some suggestions to make your Theme Nights a success:
- Let each family member take turns choosing a theme. Come up with ideas that are personal favorites for your family.
- Do it once a month, or once a week, or whatever you’re up for.
- Plan the nights in advance so you can get the food/supplies you need.
- Create fun projects for the kids during the week(s) ahead that you can use to decorate. Ex. make paper snowflakes, flowers, whatever works with the theme.
- You can supplement with really inexpensive decorations from Amazon as well.
- A few balloons or paper stars hanging from the ceiling goes a LONG way to creating that magical feel.
- Use the theme to teach your kids about different cultures/parts of the world.
- Be creative! You don’t have to be awesome at crafts or decorating. The idea is taking a space we all see every day and making it different somehow. For Christmas in July, I literally just cut strips of white tissue paper and hung it off of the mantel and windowsill and it worked great! (You can see this in the photo above.) The point is to make your sweet home (which we’ve seen SO much of lately) look different and fun!
Theme Nights absolutely create a sense of magic in our house, which is wonderful considering WE CAN’T LEAVE IT. 🙂 Of course, it’s not the same as the holidays, but since it can’t be Christmas every day, at least we get to experience::
- The anticipation of something wonderful happening.
- Decorations that made things look beautiful and different.
- A chance to stretch our skills in the kitchen and learn new recipes
- Special time together as a family.
Christmas doesn’t happen by itself. As moms, we create the magic of the season in our homes for our families. As we face this new year dealing with Covid, let’s be creative, let’s go the extra mile, and let’s create many more magic moments for our families. That is how we can keep the spirit of Christmas alive all year long.
Until next time, keep raising extraordinary kids,