We woke to a cool 45 degrees, a cold front here by any standard. Though a chill ran from my spine making my hair stand on end for a few seconds while my feet shifted from their cozy place under the thick down cloaking our bed through the crisp air and onto the carpet below, I smiled. We’ve been making Christmas here, at least that’s what it feels like.  We’re adjusting well to life in a new state, Florida, and all the changes that come with moving away from family and friends, to make a new mark on an unfamiliar city. But at Christmastime? I can feel the difference. Though I welcome warm days at the beach in December and the option to still wear less than three layers of clothing just to stay warm as I race from the door of the grocery store and grip the cold handle of my car door through the covering of gloves, it would be easy to forget it was my favorite season of all, if we didn’t make a point to celebrate Christmas in all the little ways we’ve come to love.

I think December should ooze with red bobbles, glitter, unicorns and sugar. And so we set off in that direction when I drooled over a beautiful advent calendar on Pinterest from Pottery Barn, and decided to make it for a fraction of it’s hefty price tag.

After receiving our order of tiny metal buckets from Amazon (the cheapest I could find), we removed all of the handles and took the pails out the the yard to spray with chalkboard paint (if I could make-out with chalkboard paint, I think I would, it’s the Edward of crafting… and BAM, a little Twilight love thrown in for you, friends).

Advent Calendar
Advent Calendar
Advent Calendar

After a couple of good coats and some drying time, the buckets were ready to string. Thanks to one my besties, Bri, we found five good sticks in a forest near a friends house, and I gave a light spray with some white spray paint I had in the garage, left from Aliyah’s Alice in Wonderland party. I didn’t want to coat them with the white, I just like the light look of birch branches and thought I’d give my branches some faux highlights. We mounted the top branch onto a set of curtain rod brackets that my husband hung for me, and from there the rest of the magic happened with twine.

This was the most difficult part actually, the twine I had was from Ikea, and was a twisted red/natural twine, which made it thick… and thick didn’t fit well through the tiny little holes left from the handles we removed from the buckets, so that part was all done with some elbow grease, borrowed patience and left me with raw fingers. But we still got ‘er done.

Advent Calendar

After hanging, I filled in the countdown numbers in chalk, added trinkets and treats for the kids, and topped with glittery red bobbles.

Advent Calendar

The best part? Besides the cuteness hanging on my wall and the fact that my kids adore the countdown to Christmas (and seeing how many days we have left until Jesus’ birthday), is that I can totally re-use the buckets for all kinds of things, and write whatever I want on them. Chalk is so my friend.

Plus, I think Santa would approve.

In fact, he already did.

A Visit With Santa
A family portrait, thanks to the Elfie who took it.

Wait, you knew my other name was Mrs. Claus, right?

I stepped through the doors of the room where Santa sat, two apprehensive children attached to me, one on the leg, one on the hip, when a smiling Santa’s helper exclaimed, “There’s Mrs. Claus!” After only a couple of strained necks craning to see and a few children’s exacerbated looks after not seeing her, I just smiled a timid smile and nodded.

This past weekend, Chris morphed into the jolly fellow after a request just days earlier for him to help out a friend at our local community center and wear the suit. Since he’s not much inclined to turn down a request for help, much less a chance to put a smile on kid’s faces, he said yes and wore the suit well, stuffing it with a bowl full of jelly (or something like that) and pulling out his loudest, jolliest Ho, Ho, Ho for the few hours he was there.

A Visit With Santa

It was my own kids’ reactions I wasn’t expecting… Brayden was intimidated by the outfit, and Aliyah was jealous of the other littles’ excited to hug that big white beard and take a candy cane home from St. Nick, and so she just wanted to hover.

So we decided to color a picture for old St. Nick instead, and that did the trick.

A Visit With Santa
A Visit With Santa
Decorating her photo frame once we got “the shot” with daddy.

But what’s a craftastic Christmas with only one craft for Santa to see when he waltzes through the house on Christmas Eve?

Enter exhibit B:
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Scrapbook paper cut into letters, strung up on pretty felt red ribbon with mini clothes pins…

decor
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And little helpers to put some extras on the tree and name each of the letters before they’re hung… red bobbles, glitter, unicorns and sugar, baby.

Chris found this place a quick 15 minute drive from our house, the Botanical Gardens by day, the stinkin’ holy grail of Christmas light displays by night. When we pulled out of the driveway, I could feel his gorgeous baby blues gleaming in the twinkling lights that sprinkle our neighborhood, and when I looked, I wasn’t disappointed. He gave me a sideways smile before warning, “I don’t know what this place will deliver, I just found it online and thought you would like it… but we’ll make a night of it either way.”

And so we drove, hand in hand, with Little Drummer Boy beating away on our loud speakers and kids bobbing in the backseat.

Christmas Lights

The entrance led us on a bridge to a whole different world. A world of shiny, sparkly things. Of bright and beautiful things. Of happy, Christmas-y things.

Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights

My man delivered, the lights delivered, the night delivered with live music and dance-offs with my kids in the middle of the park before finishing the night tucked in a warm corner of a nearby Starbucks for hot chocolates.

Oh my, it’s late and Mrs. Claus has a busy day ahead.

Happy Dreams and a Happy Weekend!!

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