Can you believe we're only 2 weeks from Christmas? I always say that the time that goes by from Christmas to Christmas goes the fastest for me, so I can believe it.
Today I'd like to give you a glimpse into what Christmas is like in the Barrette household.
Why I love Christmas
This is my favourite time of year. My tree goes up as close to November 1st as possible (I love that our Thanksgiving is in October so that doesn't trump the Christmas décor). There's just something so magical about the atmosphere: the lights, music, scents of cinnamon and orange, all the things.
Just not the snow... I live in Northern Ontario and we get tons of it, and I'm not a fan. A little bit, sure (which is what we have now so I'm good), but usually we get a pretty heavy dumping by end of January.
I believe in the magic of Christmas and how its simplicities combined can create a beautiful world.
Some of our seasonal favourites and family traditions
We spend as many evenings as possible together, sipping hot chocolate and watching Christmas movies. Though we do this throughout the year too, for some reason it feels extra special during the holidays. Here's a list of some of our faves:
-National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
-Home Alone 1 & 2
-Santa Clause trilogy
-A Christmas Carol (any version!)
-Krampus (yup, it's a horror movie)
-The Family Man
-Die Hard (yes, it's a Christmas movie LOL)
This category isn't as much a family favourite, but it's always been a very important part of my own Christmas traditions. When I was a kid, whenever we decorated our tree, we would put a variety of Christmas CDs on shuffle and get to it. I tried to carry on the tradition, but turns out my family much prefers Christmas movies to Christmas music. Oh well!
Nevertheless, I always gravitate towards the same songs that played on repeat over 20 years ago. My favourite song is All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey (this has been standing strong for many years and is always my ringtone for the holidays), and my all-time favourite album will forever be NSYNC's Home For Christmas (I'd listen to that 365 days a year!). In fact, I'm listening to it as I write this.
Every year we pick a Friday or Saturday evening to drive around the city looking at Christmas lights. There are lists online of which neighbourhoods are well-lit, or the location of a single home if it's over the top! Fun fact: I hated doing this as a kid, and now I LOVE it! It's in my top 3 for most anticipated Barrette Christmas activities. How could you NOT want to check out this house??
One thing my kids love is making homemade egg nog! I'm a HUGE nog fan, whether store-bought or homemade, and I love that we can customize it to each other's individual tastes (I like a pretty generous amount of cinnamon in mine, whereas my husband and kids prefer none). I chose to put this one in the activity category, because it's always something we do together as a family.
Here's our recipe if you'd like to try it out! If you do, please let me know in the comments how it turned out, I'd love to know!
Don't forget board and card games! We have several favourites in our rotation: Skip Bo, Uno, Monopoly (we have two versions that were created based on our city - SudburyOpoly is the more recent one, but my favourite will always be Greater Sudbury in a Box), Mexican train dominoes, Clue and Life. Card games are popular in our household, also. We love Poker, Bullsh*t, and A$$hole (I don't know if there are non-sweary names lol).
Every year, we do two types of fondues: oil and chocolate, usually on the same night (the day itself will vary depending on our other Christmas dinner plans). For the oil fondue, we cut up the following: chicken, steak, bacon, mushrooms, and Pogos (corn dogs - they're delicious deep fried!). We also prepare an egg batter and tempura bits to dip the food in before frying! The mushrooms are by far the tastiest with the tempura! Then dip it in ranch dressing. Mmmm......
Our fruits of choice for the chocolate fondue are strawberries, banana, pineapple, asian pear, apples, and marshmallows. The bananas are the worst for staying on the fondue sticks! They always slide off and then you're playing a game of find the banana at the bottom of the pot. It's good for a laugh, let me tell you! Did you know there's chocolate you can buy specifically for fondues? I think Hershey makes one, but don't quote me on that.
On New Year's Eve, we like to cook a variety of finger foods, like spring rolls, potstickers, chicken and pork balls, little pastries filled with different cheeses and spinach/mushrooms, etc. There's always a cheese and cracker platter (always a cheese ball!), various cured meats, sometimes a fruit and veggie tray. We go all out, even if it's just the five of us (my mother in law lives with us too). And some bubbly... don't forget the bubbly!
I also make a pretty tasty punch, which consists of 7Up or Sprite, Gingerale, pineapple juice and orange juice. Equal parts or to taste, whichever suits you best. Then I add some whole cranberries and orange slices for extra pizzazz. It's so easy to make and everyone loves it!
Don't forget chocolate and candy canes, which are always available throughout the season!
A little bit extra
As childish as it sounds, we cannot go without a chocolate advent calendar, and it's something we splurge a little bit on. This year my husband, Mike, has a Lindt calendar, my son a Hershey Cookies and Cream, my daughter a Kinder Surprise, and I have a Dairy Milk calendar.
I'd love to know more about your family traditions throughout the holidays. Do we do anything similar (or maybe even the same)? Share in the comments and who knows, maybe some new traditions can be born!
Until next time -