artsy fartsy,  Bug,  Tis the Season

Maybe I do like Christmas after all.


Every year we buy an advent calendar from Trader Joe’s right around Thanksgiving. Not because we want to get a jump start on Christmas but because we’ve learned the hard way that Trader Joe’s sells out quickly on their advent calendars and it’s a big fat bummer not to have a little chocolates to eat for twenty-five days in December.  This year Bug chose a calendar that has fun little Christmas activities illustrated on each door.


Guess what? I am a BIG FAT SUCKER when it comes to Christmas activity suggestions. I can not resist their power! Or the guilt trips on all the possible memories I might miss if I don’t follow their suggestion or something… How dare Trader Joe’s suggest that I decorate cookies or make snowflakes or decorate the tree on a certain day?!! Have you seen my schedule? I have no time for such foolery.

But apparently I find time for what I really want to do because we have been jam-packing these early days of December with all kinds of fun Christmas activities.


We made gingerbread houses, of course. (Also a kit from Trader Joe’s. What can I say? I drink the Kool-Aid.) These are actually pretty easy once you get over the fact that you have to break out the mixer to make the royal icing. I don’t do the baking kind. Since I’ve done these for three years in a row now I don’t even blink twice when the kids ask to make them. Fluffy egg whites? Coming right up! It’s totally worth it for all the fun the kids have squeezing globs of sticky sugar all over pre-made cookies and the hours and hours of uninterrupted fun with very minimal bickering. What to do with the houses afterwards is a little more challenging (eat them vs. keep them forever) but I chalk this activity up as a win because it’s all about the process.


We bought and decorated our very own tree without any help from dads, grandpas or boyfriends this year. I’m pretty proud of myself on that one. I am woman! I can totally lift a rain-drenched tree into my car (lined with waterproof picnic blanket of course) and then out and up the stairs all by myself! Piece o’ cake!


We made sugar cookies from a mix. What? You think I’m Martha Stewart and I can make them from scratch? Pshaw!  I probably could but sugar cookie mix is hard enough with the dough constantly getting too soft and sticky to roll so I cut my corners when I can find them. I think I could write a whole poem on how much of a pain in the butt sugar cookie dough is. I have developed a mantra though. It goes like this: Chill for ten minutes.

I’m talking about the dough in the fridge and yourself somewhere else far far away from the dough, preferably in a comfy chair with a beverage of some sort. It’s a very zen-like process once you master the mantra.

I wish I had better photos of the whole messy process because we made A BIG FAT EPIC MESS but you know me. I hate taking photos without natural light and because it’s WINTER and the sun goes down at like three-o’clock or some such nonsense, I’ve got very little to show. The next day however…

Bug played hookie from school (it’s a long story I don’t really feel like going into right now) and we got theses beautiful shots:


How did we make that groovy, icing with-a-half-life you’re wondering? Two words: Neon Food Coloring. Correction, that’s three words. It’s magical stuff though. It’s actually completely non-toxic and a whole lot better for you than those natural, earthy-looking tie-dyed eggs I made ages ago from silk ties. Funny how that all works out. What you see glowing is not always bad for you. Although…I’m sure that’s up for debate. Anyway, we’re cool with the colors, obviously. These cookies are ART!


And today we made snowflakes! Well, Bug did. I’m actually supposed to be working today but you know I’ll be whipping out the micro-scissors later. I am a MASTER snowflake maker. Snip snip!


So who’s bah-humbugging now? Not me! I think Christmas is getting the best of me.

p.s. icing recipe here. It was a bit runny though so we added a ton more powdered sugar than it called for.


  • Cathy

    Well I am very Christmas-y so I am eating up this post! My 19 yo daughter still does the TJ’s advent calendar (calendar! will you do your printable too?) and I strung up an advent calendar of little gifties in her room. We have also scheduled a day together to bake, yay! Am loving all of what you did and those cookies with Bug photos are beautiful.

    • SAJ

      The SAJ calendar is nagging me. The problem is I skipped a few banners this year… but I think I can whip something up. I know, I know, better sooner than later! :)

  • Robin

    Yeah TJ’s! Dec.1 I woke up wishing I could stay in bed and then heard from my son’s room, “The first day of December! Jingle, jingle, jingle bells.” And I knew he was eating that first chocolate! Me? I jumped out of bed, “Yeah! the first day of December!” How can I be an old grouchy lady with loads to cross off my December list, listening to his joy?
    BTW we are putting our TJ house together today. (:

  • amy

    We make an advent calendar with activities (6×6 scrapbook paper with activity drawn on back, rolled into a tube with paper napkin-holder like thing with number on it, and thrown in a big glass jar). Every night I have to shuffle the numbers on the tubes–there’s NO way I could commit to the activities a whole month in advance!

  • Ellie

    Love it all, frosted cookies, gingerbread house, paper snowflakes and is that a chai latte? (prob not but it makes me want one!) I completely forgot to get a calendar and was thinking it was to late. Though we have done Christmas activities of our own. I love this post and it makes me feel like getting into the ‘spirit’ of things. Continue making great memories.

  • Hil

    Wowee! What great holiday projects! I wish I was not on the other side of the country because I always want to come over and play at your house! Best wishes and Christmas cheer!

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