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Cultivating Family Holiday Traditions When You Feel Like You Don’t Have Any

My husband and I have been married for almost 7 years. Our anniversary is at the end of the month, followed up three days later by Thanksgiving and then our son’s sixth birthday two days after that. Exactly two weeks later my eldest son turns 14 and two weeks after that is Christmas Day. And then New Years the week after, of course. That’s a lot of events crammed into a short amount of time. Do we have anything special planned for them? Nope. Do we have anything planned at all? Uh…no.

Creating Family Holiday Traditions

You know how some families have these great traditions that happen each year on special events? I love hearing about these family traditions! Like a special birthday plate that has been handed down and is served on each year. Or an elf breakfast celebrating the first day of December. How about particular songs that are sung in celebration of a special day, certain meals that are prepared, specific decorations that are put up.

Yeah, we don’t have any of those. I feel like we really have no family traditions.

Perhaps I’m feeling a little guilty coming out of Halloween. While my kids had costumes (3 out of 4 handmade, thank you very much!) and they did go trick-or-treating, we didn’t go to the pumpkin patch and we didn’t even purchase or carve pumpkins. Despite several trips to the attic to look for the “fall box” my husband wasn’t able to find my autumn decorations so the house went un-decorated (to the disappointment of the kindergartener).

Is it lack of planning that I almost always find myself thinking a few days before a kid’s birthday, “Dang, we should have planned a party or something!”?

Is there lack of creativity (or sheer exhaustion) that I just don’t have it in me to come up with ideas for cute ways to celebrate when there is a special day?

Perhaps it’s lack of budget that with so many big events squished into a month, there’s no way we can do something grand for each special day?

But family traditions don’t have to be grand. Or cost anything. Or require a lot of planning, do they?

Why Have Family Holiday Traditions?

Why bother with traditions at all? Is it just a guilt thing, thinking my kids are missing out? Not at all. I know that participating in traditions is very important towards creating family bonds and childhood memories. Traditions create an identity and reinforce your family values. Having a tradition also means that people know what to expect. Expectation isn’t a bad thing. It’s something to look forward to, something to get excited about. Traditions are also special because it gives people something to teach, to pass down to others.

I had to think really hard about things that we do as a family that would be considered a tradition. Some years I’ve done things that might be considered tradition, the next year I missed the mark. I WANT to create traditions. I want to make things more consistent year after year. And with an anniversary, two birthdays and three major holidays coming up, the time to create traditions is now!

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

My son’s thankful list.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

Curating Family Traditions

So, how can you create family traditions? Fortunately the internet is a wealth of ideas that you can pick and choose from as they fit into your family. I intend to be more committed to coming up with memory-worthy family traditions that will bring my family and I closer. Creating and cultivating traditions doesn’t have to cost anything or be overly extravagant. As I created this list, I realized that my family has more traditions than I knew!

Thanksgiving

Seasonal Table Decor – From the tablecloth you spread on the dining room table to the glass candlesticks you place in the center, choose Thanksgiving table decor that you want to use year after year as a tradition.

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

Inviting Friends – What better way to show the spirit of Thanksgiving than by inviting others to your Thanksgiving table? Request that friends bring a dish to share that includes their tradition or culture.

Dinner Prayer – In our family, we always start each meal with a prayer. At Thanksgiving, we all stand around the table and hold hands. Each person says one quick thing they are thankful for to share with the group.

Traditional Foods – While turkey, gravy with mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie are pretty much every American’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner fare, what are the traditional foods in your family? I’ve heard of tamales, mac and cheese, ambrosia salad and creamed corn appearing at the table. Dig up one of grandma’s favorite old recipes and make it a tradition to prepare that dish each year.

Football – Whether watching the big games on TV or pulling out the football to play in the yard, do it together as a family.

Eating the Leftovers – You’d better hope there are leftovers! We actually try to make a LOT of extra food, planning that there will be plenty of leftovers. Leftover apple pie for breakfast, turkey sandwiches for dinner and full Thanksgiving dinner again at night! My friend’s family makes tacos the next day by stuffing corn tortillas with mashed potatoes, a beaten egg, chopped leftover ham, cheddar cheese and green onions (they close the tortilla and fry it in oil – delish!!)

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

Enjoying traditional Thanksgiving foods as well as our family favorites.

December

Advent Calendar – My mom had the cutest Advent calendar made of felt. She’d pull it out each December and I loved using it each day as a kid. There are some really cool calendars out there now, counting down the days to Christmas. Certainly helps to build anticipation for the holidays.


Donating Gifts – Our church collects gifts each year, as does our kid’s school and the dentist office. We try to donate something to each one. It’s a perfect tradition to share with the kids that shows it’s better to give than to receive. This year we’ve already purchased a bunch of goodies to create boxes for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child.

Movie Day – Choose one day (maybe a snowy or rainy one) where everyone gathers together and watches traditional Christmas film favorites.

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.


Hot Cocoa & Egg Nog – Give these two seasonal drinks a grand entrance and make it a special occasion. Offer them after a neighborhood walk to see holiday lights or while snuggled in front of the fireplace.

Volunteering – Despite the busy season, many of us still squeeze in volunteer work. Whether it’s at the local food bank or with your church, volunteering yourself as a tradition really expresses your family values.

Holiday Lights – Here’s another one that we actually do. I never thought of it being a tradition, but it totally is! Take a drive in the car or a walk through the neighborhood to admire the holiday light displays. Bring a traditional snack like popcorn or cocoa to make it extra special.

Bake & Decorate Cookies – For many this tradition can be a chore! Take back the joy in holiday baking by only making your most favorite cookies. Include the kids and let them decorate (don’t worry about perfection – the kids just want to have fun and eat their creations!)

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

Christmas

Decorating the Tree – I have a confession. I used to decorate the Christmas tree by myself when the kids were in bed! I was always worried about broken ornaments and strange placement. And then I got over that. I remembered when my parents would play Christmas music and my brother and I would pull each ornament out of the box, oohing and aahhing with the memories of each one. I want my kids to have that tradition too.

Wrap Together – Last year I stopped wrapping all the Christmas gifts alone. I started enlisting the help of each child individually to get them more involved in the holiday. I allowed the younger one to wrap gifts (lots of tape was sacrificed!) for his older brother and sister. He loved keeping the secrets of the gift and the anticipation of them opening it on Christmas morning.


Christmas Music Sing-along- Turn on the music and everyone join in, you know the words! Now it’s time to teach the lyrics of your favorite Christmas songs to the kids too.

Christmas Morning Breakfast- While we don’t have a traditional meal per se, we do always indulge in a big Christmas morning breakfast before gift opening. Sometimes we have French toast. Other days, it’s pancakes. But there is always bacon!

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

Bacon for Christmas morning is our family holiday tradition!

Collecting Ornaments – In writing this post, I realized that THIS is a tradition of mine! My grandmother would purchase my brother and I ornaments from Avon each year and those are my most cherished collection. I’ve been purchasing the Hallmark Beauty of Birds Series for my own white tree display.

I used to buy my eldest son a Hallmark ornament of his own each year that reflected something he’d loved that year. Unfortunately with four kids now, the cost of buying each of them a pricey ornament is out of my budget. But perhaps I can take them to the store and let them each choose something inexpensive.

Church – While we attend church each Sunday together as a family, participating in a traditional Christmas church service has it’s own feeling.

New Years

Ring in the new year with family-friendly celebrations that keep you close at home, creating memories together.

Special Foods – After the indulgence of Christmas, my family always chose to go a different route for New Year’s Eve. Appetizers like a cheese and cracker platter, fresh cut fruit and nuts served with a glass of wine are a perfectly acceptable dinner! We’d follow it up with the big box of chocolate and peanut brittle that someone always seemed to gift us each year!

Dress for the Occasion – Choose the theme for your evening – Is it glamorous? Then dress up to the nines! Or casual and cozy? Then have everyone wear their pajamas and snuggle in blankets.


Stay Up Till Midnight (Maybe) – I admit, we haven’t made it past midnight in several years (having little ones and no party plans does that to you!) No need to stay up till midnight in your neighborhood though. Choose midnight in a different time zone and celebrate your New Year at 8 pm if you’d rather the kids stick to their normal bedtime!

Games All Night – When I was younger, my family would pull out several board games to play together. We’d play cards, Yahtzee, Clue and put together a puzzle until the clock struck midnight.

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

Birthdays

With four kids, birthday parties aren’t always in the budget. But small traditions are so important when celebrating each child’s special day.

Breakfast In Bed – Serve your child’s favorite breakfast to them in bed. What a fun way to wake up!

Kid’s Choice – Give kids the choice of activity on this day and you might be surprised what they choose. For my son’s 5th birthday, his one request was a play date at the park with his preschool bestie – easy and done! Plan ahead and ask them their choice for dinner as well so you can prepare it on their birthday.

A Birthday Letter from Mom & Dad – Write a letter to your child with notable thoughts on the year past. Save the birthday letters in a special box to be gifted to them when they’re an adult.

Cake Served on a Special Plate – I bought a pretty vintage white cake platter the year we were married. It was going to hold our wedding cake but the cake ended up being too wide. However this cake plate makes a special appearance for each birthday!

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

Anniversary

My anniversary, I’ve got nothing. We went to dinner on our first anniversary and since then, we’ve always just treated it like any other day. No gifts, no cards, just a regular day that includes the phrase, “Happy Anniversary, honey”.

I don’t want to blow off our wedding anniversary anymore. I want to create some traditions that show my husband (as well as my kids) that we treasure our marriage with a celebration. Doesn’t have to be expensive or over the top, but it should be something!

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

A blurry cell phone selfie is better than nothing!

Same Restaurant – Do you have a special restaurant that you dined in while dating? Return each year for your anniversary (or another restaurant in the same food theme).

Love Letter – Given that I’ve never even received a store-bought card, this one isn’t really in my husband’s wheelhouse but there are some partners who love to share their thoughts and feelings on paper.

Give Traditional Gifts with a Twist – You know those “traditional anniversary themes” for gifts, like paper for the first year and gold for the 50th? Add a twist to those by setting a budget each year. For instance it’s my 7th anniversary this year and the theme is wool or copper. If we set a budget of $20, we could buy a copper bangle, a wool scarf, Moscow mule mug or a wool felt ornament. The point is to actually purchase something that is perfect for your partner, not just anything to fill the quota of a gift.

Wedding Album – Pull out the wedding photos and guest book to look through it together and reflect on the day.

Get Away for the Big Days – Though we might not have it in the budget to have a get-away each year on our anniversary, we’re already planning our 10th anniversary with a big holiday vacation.

And what if none of these traditions feel right for your family? No matter, try only what feels right. What’s most important is gathering together. And the memories you make!

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland

If you love Disney what better place to spend Valentine’s Day than at the Happiest Place on Earth! What can you do to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland? Whether it’s just the two sweethearts or you’ve got the whole family with you, there are some very lovable ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland. Keep reading for sweet ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland from morning to night!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and purchasing via the links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland

Love is in the Air – Photo Credit: Disney Store

1. Breakfast

Start off the day on either a sweet or a savory note. Since you may indulge in some sweet treats through the day, might be best to have some protein in your tummy first! We like to grab breakfast inside Downtown Disney District and eat while we wait for rope drop. There are hearty (and low-priced) breakfast sandwiches at either Earl of Sandwich or La Brea Bakery. Or sip and go with a fruit smoothie from Jamba Juice.

Sweet Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

Inside the parks if you’re prefer a leisurely breakfast with your sweetie-pie, you can dine on Mickey waffles, eggs, bacon and fruit at Carnation Cafe and watch the crowds rushing by. And if you want to start the day with something sweet, swing into Jolly Holly Bakery and Cafe for a cinnamon roll or muffin.

2. A Fresh Bouquet

If you’re staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, consider a call to Disney Floral & Gift for the delivery of a magical floral arrangement. They can also go all out with romantic in-room decor like rose petals on the bed, spa robes and chocolate covered strawberries! If you’re celebrating the love with the whole family, they even have collections that include something for everyone, like red roses for Mom and sweet treats for the kids.

3. A Sweet Souvenir

Keep your eyes open for adorable love-inspired souvenirs in the Disneyland shops, including this Mickey & Minnie boutique lace-trimmed bag!

Image Credit: Disney Store

If you like to purchase your souvenirs online and have them arrive to you at home, shop the Disney Store online. They have dozens of precious Valentine’s Day themed items that will delight everyone.

4. Sweet Sips and Snacks

Enjoy a classic afternoon tea at Steakhouse 55 inside the Disneyland Hotel. As a special treat for Valentine’s (available Feb. 3-5, 10-12 and Feb. 14), the Classic Afternoon Tea will feature Shanghai Rose black tea, specialty tea sandwiches, a chocolate raspberry scone with vanilla glaze, chocolate cupcakes with ganache, pink velvet cupcakes with champagne mousse, a chocolate ganache cupcake, chocolate-dipped strawberries and a heart-shaped macaron.

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

Image Credit: Disney Parks

5. Very Sweet Treat

Only available on Feb 14th, both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park will offer Valentine’s Day cherry-vanilla flavored cotton candy for sale at their street vendor carts.

6. A Valentine’s Day Gift

Pop into the Pandora shop in New Orleans Square for a Valentine’s Day gift she’ll never forget (or buy it early online via Disney Store and have it ready for gifting at the parks!)

Image Credit: Disney Store

7. Dinner for Two

Perhaps your Valentine’s Day at Disney will be spent with just the two of you? A romantic dinner is in order then and Disneyland has some special meals planned.

On Valentine’s Day The Blue Bayou will feature a special menu item: Lobster A L’Americaine, a rich blend of lobster sauce, roasted lobster tail, snow crab, sautéed mahi and potatoes in a creamy lobster-cognac sauce with onions, celery and peas.

If you’re looking for an amazing splurge the ultra upscale Napa Rose inside Disney’s Grand Californian has a 4-course meal that includes a wine flight. Be sure to book your Advance Dining Reservations early for these meals!

8. Watch the Sunset

Finding a lovely spot to watch the setting sun at the Disney resort is a perfect way to close out the day. The sun will set behind Mickey’s Fun Wheel so catch a ride on this Ferris wheel for a panoramic view. Or grab a drink at Wine Country Trattoria and take a seat on the steps in Paradise Park (located in front of the Little Mermaid ride, where World of Color is shown). Or dine on the patio at Carthay Circle for a view over the crowds.

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

Sun setting over Cars Land

9. Dinner for the Family

Several other Disney restaurant locations will be offering Valentine’s Day dinners that are inclusive of the entire family. Carnation Cafe will be serving up Surf & Turf featuring sirloin steak, shrimp skewer, mashed potatoes, sautéed broccoli, sun-dried tomato butter and herb beurre blanc sauce.

The Disneyland Resort hotels will also be offering special dinners. On February 14th, Storytellers Cafe a prix-fixe, three-course meal will be available, featuring farmer’s market field greens, New York strip loin and lobster tail with sun-dried tomato risotto and asparagus, vanilla crème brûlée with berry compote. At Goofy’s Kitchen, Valentine’s Day-themed desserts will be available on the buffet.

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

For an elegant meal, Steakhouse 55 will have a three-course dinner that wine pairings, featuring chipotle-spiced Ahi tartare, bacon-wrapped filet of beef with Mascarpone whipped potatoes, vegetables and a cognac cream sauce and white chocolate crunch cake with dark chocolate ganache and raspberry ice cream (hello!)

10. Special Desserts

The Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in Disneyland Park will have a heart-shaped strawberry macaron, how delightful! Over at Disney California Adventure life is sweet with three special Valentine’s desserts. At Clarabelle’s pick the Valentine Sundae, featuring strawberry and vanilla ice cream in a waffle bowl topped with strawberry sauce, graham cracker, pink whipped cream, Valentine’s Day sprinkles and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

Image Credit: Disney Parks

If you’re a simple gal, perhaps you’d enjoy the chocolate-strawberry swirl soft-serve ice cream at Paradise Pier Ice Cream Company. Or sip your way to bliss at Schmoozies with a decadent chocolate-strawberry smoothie with frozen fresh strawberries, strawberry juice, chocolate syrup, ice cream and milk blended with ice and topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup.

Save money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount Disneyland tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

 

 

Disney Halloween Tricks, Treats and Costumes

It is the season to start your Halloween planning, if you haven’t already! I love to participate in local festivities and like to have our family costumes ready and the house decorated when October rolls around (or earlier, if that’s your thing!). I’m more of a “decorate for Autumn in general” kind of person and have fewer specifically Halloween decorations, but some of these are just so fun! And of course there are always so many fun Pinterest-type of treats to make for the family. I’ve collected some of my favorite Disney-inspired Halloween tricks, treats and costumes to share with you here.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Add a bit of Disney Halloween magic to your trick or treat festivities!

It’s a Nightmare…Before Christmas!

Jack and Sally have taken over the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and you can get in the spirit in your house too! Check out these Nightmare Before Christmas and Haunted Mansion themed items that add just the right amount of scare to your lair. I love the cool details on that baseball tee (and I wish it came in women’s sizes!)

(all from Disney Store) : Haunted Mansion ApronJack Skellington Plush Pillow, Haunted Mansion Table Setting

Haunted Mansion Bangle by Alex and AniHaunted Mansion Dress, Hatbox Ghost Baseball Tee

Jack Skellington cookies are SO easy to make because you only need to two colors of royal icing and they go together so quickly! I made these cookies for a bake sale and they were the first to sell out.

Round-up of Disney Halloween costumes, treats and decorations.

Check out THIS POST for details on the Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland.

Spooky Little Touches

I like to make my seasonal decor subtle, almost like a Hidden Mickey. These Halloween dishtowels just speak to me…I mean we all need dishtowels, right? Why not make them seasonally fun!

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links)Disney Parks Mickey Minnie Mouse Pumpkin Halloween Kitchen Dish Towels, Disney Parks Mickey Mouse Halloween Jack O’ Lantern Pumpkin Votive Ceramic Candle Holder, Disney Villains Candy Bowl

 

This pumpkin spice cupcake is available at Disneyland and could be replicated at home. Orange frosting, some green tendrils and two chocolate wafer cookies and you can have your own Mickey-inspired pumpkin cupcakes!

Round-up of Disney Halloween costumes, treats and decorations.

All Things Star Wars

Star Wars Halloween costumes have been popular since I was a kid and there’s no stopping them now, with the release of the new films.

From left to right (Disney Store & Amazon affiliate links)Rey Costume, Star Wars Darth Vader Trick-or-Treat Pail, Kylo Ren Lightsaber

 

Check out these cool Star Wars-inspired pumpkins I found on Pinterest from DIY Candy!

Image from Pinterest (DIY Candy)

Dressing Up

Need a costume? Disney Store has some of the cutest and really well made, too. Kids and adults can wear costumes to Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland so get in the spirit and dress up!

From left to Right (Disney Store affiliate)Moana Costume, Cruella de Vil, Baby Donald Duck

If you can sew, I have a fun DIY Mickey Jack o’ Lantern shirt, HERE!

Halloween DIY Disney Mickey Pumpkin Appliqued Tee

If a pumpkin could ever be adorable, these are it! Tsum Tsum pumpkins from Disney Rewards.

Image Credit: Disney Rewards website

Would you rather make your own Disney-inspired costumes on a budget? Check out THIS POST with hundreds of tips and ideas.

For the Kids

I like the bodysuit costumes for baby that allow for dress up that’s still comfortable & diaper convenient. And cool accessories for older kids that want to participate but might not want to dress in full costume.

From left to right (Disney Store & Amazon affiliate links) – Belle Baby Costume, Tinker Bell light up wings, Disney Mickey and Minnie Halloween Tee, Disney’s Mickey Mouse Wizard Hat

 

 If you’d like to try making your own Sorcerer Mickey hat, see THIS POST for a tutorial.

Halloween Costume on a Budget - Sorcerer Mickey Mouse

SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration

My family and I were recently able to visit SeaWorld San Diego during its annual Christmas Celebration. The park is beautifully decorated all over for the holidays with lights, trees and a fun Christmas party atmosphere. Read more about it on my post at Traveling Mom.

SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration

 

How to Navigate Holiday Crowds at the Disneyland Resort #TMOM

It’s a very merry Christmas season at the Disneyland Resort! How can you navigate the crowds and still make sure to have a magical time? Follow these 11 tips on my most recent post at Traveling Moms.

How to Navigate Holiday Crowds at the Disneyland Resort #TMOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Dessert-to-Go – Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheHoliday #CollectiveBias

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

The holidays are upon us and that means, family, food and more food! I’m always up for dessert, but sometimes after a big meal, my guests aren’t always ready to indulge. But that doesn’t mean they want to miss out completely! Thanks to Rubbermaid TakeAlongs, guests can box up dessert to go so they can have a treat for later.

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

I baked a pan of Apple Oatmeal Cake especially for my guests to take home with them. I love this Apple Oatmeal Cake recipe because it’s just as delicious for dessert as it is for breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea. So if your guests just can’t find any room after their big holiday meal, they can save their cake to eat in the morning. It’s fantastic when warmed slightly and served with a dollop of whipped cream, mmmm!

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

After letting the cake cool, I cut it into pieces and boxed the slices up into the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs. Having my family around me during the holidays is a gift and I want to thank them for joining us. Sharing a meal together and giving a special treat to take home with them truly highlights what the season is all about.

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

Since I know you’re busy, I created this Thank You Printable for you to use on your Rubbermaid TakeAlongs. Simply print and cut out. I delegated this task to my kids, who used simple craft sticky dots to secure the thank you cards to the top of the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs before we boxed up the treats.

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

We already have quite a collection of Rubbermaid containers for everyday use, but I don’t necessarily want to send these home with my guests (because I’ll never get them back!) Rubbermaid TakeAlongs products are available at Walmart at a reasonable price so you can pack up leftovers for your guests and send them home with them. On our stop at Walmart, we chose Rubbermade TakeAlongs in Deep Square and Rectangle but there are also TakeAlongs Serving Bowl, TakeAlongs Serving Rectangle, and the TakeAlongs Deviled Egg Tray.

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

Find Rubbermaid TakeAlongs for the holidays at Walmart

The holiday Rubbermaid TakeAlongs come in a variety of holiday colors and prints. We brought home festive red and green. I bought a few extra in case anyone wants leftover turkey or stuffing (as if they wouldn’t!) Rubbermaid TakeAlongs feature Quik Clik Seal™ technology which helps prevent spills in the car on the way home. They are also microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe, so you can pop your Apple Oatmeal Cake into the microwave to warm it up before swooping the top with whipped cream.

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

This recipe goes together quickly and the addition of applesauce, coconut oil, ground flax seed and oatmeal make this a healthier dessert option. And as I said, fantastic for breakfast (in fact, that’s what we had for breakfast today!)

Healthier Apple Oatmeal Cake

Healthier Apple Oatmeal Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or use sugar substitute)
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used 1/4 cup melted coconut oil and 1/4 cup vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in bowl.
  3. Add liquid ingredients and mix just until moistened.
  4. Stir in apples and walnuts. Mixture will be quite thick.
  5. Pour into a greased 9 x 13" pan.
  6. Bake 30-35 minutes.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://momrewritten.com/holiday-dessert-to-go-apple-oatmeal-cake-recipe-and-free-printable-sharetheholiday/

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

Make sure to stock up on Rubbermaid TakeAlongs from Walmart so you’re prepared to pack up leftovers and share them with your guests! Click through to find out how you can get $1 Off Of Any 2 Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Products in this rebate offer, exclusive to Walmart shoppers (starts Nov 25th). It’s an excellent way to Share the Holiday.

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

How will you #ShareTheHoliday with your family this year?


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Holiday Gift Guide – Disney-inspired Gifts for Kids Under 5

Holiday Gift Guide - Disney-inspired Gifts for Kids Under 5

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing our holiday gift guides.


There are thousands of Disney-inspired gifts for kids under five years old. So how do you know what will make the best gift for your little ones? When buying gifts, there are several things to consider: age appropriateness, probable longevity of the item and quality. And an important thing to me, practicality. Sure, those 3 foot tall dolls are cute, but how often will it be played with? Yes, that awesome, hot new toy is cool but if it’s over $100 how many times will it be used with to make it worth the value?

I love to think outside the box for my kids and buy them things that they’ll be able to use and enjoy over several years and that won’t end up at the bottom of the toy bin next week. Having something that is timeless and high quality is important too, especially if you have more than one child and the item could be handed down to the next child in time.

Here are my choices for the best Disney-inspired gifts for kids under 5, starting with babies. I’ll be having a little girl next year and already thinking of the sweet Disney-themed items I’ll be able to buy for her! Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.


Disney Gifts for Babies

What does baby love? Something useful like a teether or a blankie? Something fun like wooden blocks! Something soothing like a soundtrack of lullabies. And when all else fails, you can’t go wrong with an adorable outfit that dresses baby like a princess or Winnie the Pooh!

NUK Disney Mickey Mouse Teether (Amazon), Dumbo Piggy Bank (DisneyStore), Wooden Castle Blocks for Baby by Melissa & Doug (DisneyStore)

 Minnie Mouse Plush Blankie (DisneyStore), Disney Baby Lullaby (Amazon)

 

Winnie the Pooh Hooded Romper (DisneyStore), Disney Minnie Mouse Dress Black Shoes (Amazon), Disney Baby Cinderella Dress Set (Amazon), Mickey bibs (DisneyStore)

 


Reading

Books are one of my favorite gifts to give because they are truly enjoyed all year round by my little ones. We own the Cars First Look & Find and it’s a great conversation starter. Reading is also the perfect way to snuggle up with them at bedtime.

Disney Junior Official Magazine (Amazon), Frozen Five Minute Stories (DisneyStore)

  

Disney-Pixar Inside Box of Mixed Emotions (DisneyStore), Cars First Look & Find (DisneyStore), Winnie the Pooh’s Giant Lift-the-Flap Book (DisneyStore)


Pajamas

I’m all for giving new pajamas at Christmas. Often times it’s a gift I let my kids open on Christmas Eve so they have a crisp, new pair to wear in their Christmas morning photos!

Mickey Mouse PJ Pals and Doc McStuffins Pajama Set (both from The Disney Store)

Toy Story – Woody and Buzz Pajama Set (Amazon), Elsa Nightgown (DisneyStore), Cars Lightning McQueen Pajamas (Amazon)

  


Meal Time

We own Zak Designs melamine plates and bowls and they hold up so well over the years, even with dishwasher use. And truly, can you ever have enough cups for little ones?

Zak Designs 5-Piece Princess Mealtime Serveware Set & Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 3 Piece Mealtime Dinnerware Set (both from Amazon)

 

Minnie Mouse Cup and Olaf Tumbler (both from DisneyStore), Disney Junior Miles From Tomorrowland Folding Flatware Set (Amazon)


Travel for Kids

Going on a trip to a Magical location? Or just to Grandma’s house for the night? Little kids love to tote their own necessities in Disney style.

Miles from Tomorrowland Light-Up Rolling Luggage and Anna & Elsa Rolling Luggage (both from DisneyStore)

Disney Princesses Plush Travel Pillow and Disney Mickey Backpack (both from Amazon)

Disney Sofia the First Toddler Sleepover Slumber Set with Tote Bag and Inside Out Slumber Bag in Drawstring Bag (both from Amazon)


Bedroom Decor

Disney Jake and The Pirates Bed Tent (Amazon), Sully Plush Pillow, 2-pack Disney Cinderella Pillowcases Night Sparkles Bed Accessories (Amazon)

 

Ariel personalized blanket (DisneyStore),  Up House artwork (Vivid Editions)

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For more holiday gift options,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Black | Holiday Gift Guides Loop:

What are your favorite items to gift to kids under five years old? Share below in the comments!

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5 Cheap Ideas for Valentine’s Day that Still Respect Your Budget in the Morning!

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine's Day? Here are 5 special ways to tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day without spending a bunch of money!

I’ll pass on the pricey red roses. Please don’t spend a fortune on teddy bears, chocolate and diamonds, either. Not to say I don’t love those things or wouldn’t appreciate them, but in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day the prices on them just seems to skyrocket. I want to have a sweet Valentine’s Day but I don’t want to spend a bunch of money either! If you’re trying to budget you’ll need cheap ideas for Valentine’s Day so keep reading.

5 Ideas for Valentine’s Day that Still Respect Your Budget in the Morning!  5 Ideas for Valentine’s Day that Still Respect Your Budget in the Morning!

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine’s Day?

No need to break the budget just to do something special. These try these cheap ideas for Valentine’s Day or save them for any day when you just want to show some love! Some of these are family appropriate and others are just for you and your honey.

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine's Day? Here are 5 special ways to tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day without spending a bunch of money!

Bacon for Breakfast 

Okay it doesn’t have to be bacon but just adding one special treat to your day will make everyone happy. For us, it’s adding bacon for breakfast. Just the scent of that bacon baking in the oven gets us all giddy! It’s a rare treat.

Perhaps your something-special is dessert? My kids loved when I baked these over-sized sugar cookies and decorated them with their names on the top! What is one special thing that you don’t have or do very often that fills your family with joy? Do that thing on Valentine’s Day!

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine's Day? Here are 5 special ways to tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day without spending a bunch of money!

Love Notes & Decorations

We all toss around “I Love You” but how often do we write down our thoughts and feelings? Store-bought cards are so expensive! Make a simple card with scrapbook paper and write something sweet inside…it’s the sentiment that counts.

I crafted some out of simple black construction paper and a white Sharpie to give it a “chalkboard” effect. I’m going to gift them to my family at dinner…along with a small box of chocolates to share for dessert.

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine's Day? Here are 5 special ways to tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day without spending a bunch of money!

Another cheap way of making Valentine’s Day special is with sweet decor. I made this chain of paper hearts and was able to store it away and reuse it for years. I hand painted the wooden picture frames myself with acrylic paint for just a few dollars.

Special Dinner…at Home

We eat dinner at home nearly every night so eating at home on Valentine’s Day certainly wouldn’t be anything special. However for Valentine’s Day I plan to serve something out of the ordinary as a treat.

Buying steaks or seafood at the grocery and preparing them at home is going to cost at least 50% less than if you went out, especially if you want to have a glass of wine with dinner. Add a little romance with a pretty table setting and candles. Leave the dishes for tomorrow!

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine's Day? Here are 5 special ways to tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day without spending a bunch of money!

Movie Night…on the Sofa

Save yourself a bunch by renting a Redbox or streaming on Netflix for a fraction of the cost of watching in a theater. We buy a big bag of popcorn from Costco, bake some cupcakes for dessert and have a movie marathon after the kids are in bed. Best part? We can watch in our jammies! Even better if you can get the kids to spend the night somewhere else so you’ll have the house to yourself *wink*

Pick a “new-to-you” movie or a classic you’ve seen already 23 times. I’m in love with Jane Austin movies, so I could watch Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightly over and over but I’m not sure my husband would be able to stay awake past the opening scene! Best to choose something you’ll both enjoy.

Need a Few Cheap Ideas for Valentine's Day? Here are 5 special ways to tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day without spending a bunch of money!

Cuddle Up

Grab a big blanket and curl up together on the sofa. Pull out a photo album or scrapbook to reminisce over. It’s one of our favorite past times. Recall your thoughts about when you first met or your wedding day. Kids love hearing those stories too. Or just sit in the dark and talk after the kids have gone to bed, while you snuggle and smooch!

Hope you have a wonderfully happy Valentine’s Day!

Julie-signature

 

 

Meaningful Holiday Traditions – Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

The best things in life are free…that’s what they say anyway! When it comes to holiday traditions however, I fully believe this. Traditions aren’t intended to be fancy or over-the-top: Traditions inspire, spur creativity and create lasting memories. Keeping up traditions doesn’t have to cost you anything extra so don’t worry if your budget is already over-taxed.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

For children, something only has to be done once to make it “tradition” (ie: “We always have waffles on Christmas”, only because you served them last year!) Ask your children what traditions are their favorite. My parents and grandparents were very big on Christmas traditions and it made the holidays extra special. Each family member painted a winter scene on their front windows using tempera paints. Christmas Eve night was spent at church, holding candles and singing songs. Santa’s gift was always assembled and unwrapped under the twinkling tree. Christmas Day our entire (very large!) family got together for lunch and to open presents in our wild gift exchange…it was an all-day event! It’s a tradition we hold today. Those are incredible memories that I hope I can create in our own way for my children.


Here are a few ways you can incorporate traditions into your holidays this year:

FOOD

Do you have a traditional food that gets prepared each holiday? In my husband’s family, his aunts get together and make tamales that we can enjoy in the new year. For our family luncheon, my aunt brings an ambrosia salad (a sweet treat with marshmallows and canned fruit). It was something that my grandmother used to prepare and my aunt carries the tradition.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

Last year I made this Christmas Cranberry Cake, which was a hit!

A friend of mine started a cookie decorating party several years ago for her nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. She makes the sugar and gingerbread cookies, I make the royal icing and we all gather for dinner and decorating. Everyone enjoys it, young and old alike. I recommend using squeeze bottles for the icing (which makes decorating and clean up so much easier).

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

As a child, my mom always prepared a Bisquick coffee cake to eat on Christmas morning. Many times I’ve prepared an overnight French Toast that I can make the night before and pop in the oven while we unwrap gifts. If you don’t have a traditional food think about what your family favorite is and serve it over the holiday week. Or find a new favorite in a holiday-themed cookbook, like this one, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!


MUSIC

Certain holiday songs can take me back to a place and time in my childhood and I’m sure there are songs that do the same for you. The Little Drummer Boy for me is sitting next to my dad in the church choir and hearing his deep bass pah-rump-a-pum-pumming out the beat of the drum. Hearing Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You puts me back to the 90s while out Christmas shopping with my brother. Whether it be Josh Groban’s Noel album, Mannheim Steamroller’s acoustic A Fresh Aire Christmas or The Chipmunks Christmas Don’t Be Late, these songs put us in the holiday mood.

For me it’s not Christmas until I’ve heard Whitney Houston sing Do You Hear What I Hear. Goosebumps every time! Think about your favorite seasonal music and play it at home or in the car. Sing the lyrics, teach your kids and let the music put you in the Christmas spirit!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

At my son’s school Christmas Concert


VOLUNTEER

Volunteering your time to a cause is beneficial not only to the other person but to your spirit as well. With the extra events going on in communities this time of year, extra volunteers are always welcome. Check in with local shelters, soup kitchens and churches to find out how you can pitch in. With three young children, my time is limited and finding someone to watch our children so we can donate our time to a cause can be a challenge. Find out if there are volunteer opportunities for your children to participate in as well. My husband and son have gone out with our church to deliver sandwiches to the homeless and it was an eye-opening experience that he’s never forgotten. If your time is limited, consider donating your gently used clothing and toys to a local thrift store or shelter.


PHOTOS

Capture the moment in time with a snapshot of your child in front of the Christmas tree with their favorite gift of the year.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!


GET OUTSIDE

Enjoy an outdoor activity with your family that is appropriate for the season. We have never celebrated a “White Christmas” before so we make do with warmer temps and a hike in our neighborhood park. If you have snow, get out in it with the kids for a sledding competition, snowball fight or snowman building contest. Make it your tradition on one of the holiday nights to take a drive and see the Christmas lights. We have a neighborhood nearby with fantastic Christmas displays and lights and we make it a point to drive though it several times during the season and to walk through it at least once. Load up with cocoa and treats to snack on as you walk!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

Christmas in San Diego – A morning hike at Mission Trails


PAMPER YOURSELF

No need to spend a ton at the salon this season when you can enjoy a relaxing “Spa-day” at home. The holidays can really take it out of you! Doesn’t a warm foot soak sound lovely? Do it up at home and you can rest in your pjs while you polish your toes or read a magazine while wearing a homemade facial mask. Pretty up with creative hair-dos for a holiday party. I bought some Jamberry nails this season and have loved how long they last (2 weeks on my hands and 4 weeks on my toes!) I have Midnight Celebration (the first image on the left) on my hands right now and think they are so fun & festive. Pampering might not fall under the free catagory, but staying home is certainly cheaper than going to a salon. Perhaps pampering yourself might also just be as simple as curling up in bed with a favorite book to recharge your holiday batteries. Make it your new tradition to take a break during the busy season and take care of yourself!


UNWRAPPED

For at least ten years there was a gift box shaped like a toy shop that was passed through our family. It was a delight to receive that box, no matter what was inside because it was tradition. Finally the box fell apart and had to be tossed out but it is a fun tradition to start in your family. Find a quirky gift bag or box and keep it around the family, gifting someone new each year.

I was shocked when a friend told me their Christmas morning of gift exhanging was traditionally over in less than 10-minutes: apparantly it was a frenzy of unwrapping, paper flying and “thank yous” thrown around the room. Our family tradition has always been to open gifts one person at a time and for the others to watch what they receive. That way the giver has the joy of seeing the recipient view their present for the first time. Our kids know that we take turns in our home too and the youngest child gets to choose the first gift. Some families have a Pickle Ornament on their tree and the first person to spot the pickle gets to choose their first gift to open. We all have pickle ornaments in our family too but that’s because our surname is Dill!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!


ORNAMENTS

9 years ago I started collecting these Hallmark ornaments in the Beauty of Birds series. I missed the first year! This was the offering in 2014, isn’t she pretty?

Image from Hallmark.com

I have all of my collection on a small white tree and traditionally have the tree set up on my dining room buffet. Collecting ornaments throughout the years is a beautiful tradition. I have ornaments on my tree that my grandmother gave me as a child. I adore pulling out my beloved ornaments year after year.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

The handmade ornaments that my children have made over the years are a delight. A paper crayon drawing of an angel that my littlest made in Sunday school is my current tree topper.  Many Disney fan collect ornaments at the Parks as a memento of their dream vacations. If you have it in your budget, it’s a nice tradition to take the kids out and let them choose an ornament at the store each year. These would be ornaments you would send off with them when they are grown and have their own home! (from left to right, Tigger, Disney Parks Light Up EarsSorcerer’s Apprentice – images from Disney Store)

   


RELIGIOUS SERVICES

When I recently asked my older children what their favorite part of the Christmas season is they both answered the same: Church. We attend church every Sunday and they also attend a life group Bible study once a week. Church is a part of their lives on a regular basis already but I was still intrigued to hear that attending services is their favorite Christmas tradition. During the holidays people in general are more open to attending church service. If you don’t already have a “home church”, consider accepting the invitation of a friend to attend. And if you already regularly attend, reach out to friends and invite them to come with you to service.


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What are the favorite holiday traditions in your family? Please share them below in the comments! 

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Christmas Cranberry Cake

A friend of mine recently made this cake and was kind enough to share. When she told me it only has six ingredients, I was intrigued. 5 of the 6 I already had in my supply and only the fresh cranberries would need to be purchased. Imagine my delight when I found a bag of whole cranberries at Costco for the low, low price of $1.99! And get this, that one bag is enough to make four batches of this heavenly cake. I made one cake and froze the rest of the cranberries to use when I make the cake again (and I will be making this cake again!)

Cranberry Christmas cake

The recipe goes together in a jiffy. I absolutely recommend using real butter (I don’t think it will come out the same if you substitute). Make sure it’s whipped long enough as this is what will make the cake moist and fluffy. The slightly sweet cake offsets the tangy taste of the cranberries in this festive and delicous cake that is perfect for holiday parties!

Cranberry Christmas cake

This is a fantastic cake that is easy on the budget and great for sharing. The pieces can be cut small and hold their shape nicely. You really don’t even need a fork, just pick up the slice like a brownie. Recipe found on Barefeet in the Kitchen, Cranberry Christmas Cake. Better print out a few copies and take them with you because your friends will definitely ask for the recipe!

Cranberry Christmas cake