The other week I was walking out with good friends at the end of a very long day. We were chit chatting down the elevator and out the door heading to our different modes of transportation to get home that evening. As we start walking down 1st Ave in Minneapolis, mid conversation one of the women put her arms out and said “stop”. We abruptly stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and waited to see what she was going to do next. She said, “Look around us! How beautiful is this night and all the city lights and skyline surrounding us right now! I’m sorry to stop the conversation, but I just want us to all take a minute to take this all in.”
Have you ever done that? You know stopped everything you’re doing in the middle of your hustle and bustle day to just take it all in? I know for me this is something I definitely don’t do often enough! As we have jumped into Christmas mode full swing already with it being December 8th, how are you going to make the most of this wonderful time of year and take in all the holly jolly joy of this season? It seems to fly by faster and faster each year doesn’t it? It’s so easy to make December just a month to check so many holiday activities off of your to do list or things you want finished by the end of the year off your list, but wouldn’t you rather take a minute to truly experience each one? I do! And so I had to share with you a list of my top favorite Christmas activities that I will be fully taking in all month long in a more thoughtful way this year! Check them out because I can bet some of these you will want to add to your list too!
♦Christmas Cookie Baking – Throughout the month I have an entire baking schedule planned out. It’s filled with a combination of my good ole family favorites as well as all the new ones I’ve pinned off Pinterest and have been dying to try. This year to take it all in more, I am planning more baking afternoon dates to enjoy this activity with friends.
♦Gift Shopping & Wrapping – I love strolling through the mall with a Ho Ho Ho mint mocha in hand and finding the perfect thoughtful gift for those people on my list. This year I am going to not wait until the last minute for all of my wrapping so I can fully enjoy that part of the season as well by making the packages all beautifully put together.
♦Christmas Movies & Hot Cocoa – Oh how I love a good session of watching Home Alone or the classic Charlie Brown Christmas each year! Don’t you? This year I am going to cut back on the multi-tasking during each viewing session and take in all the details of these shows that made me fall in love with them in the first place.
♦Holiday jingles on the radio while driving around oooing and ahhhing at Christmas lights – This has become a tradition for my grandma and I each year now. I pick her up and we go out searching for the best light displays on her side of the city while Bing Crosby serenades us on the local KOOL 108 radio station.
♦Christmas Concerts – Whether it’s a local performance or televised I love hearing all the beautiful renditions of the classic Christmas carols we have all grown to love. Do you have a favorite Christmas song? I have so many, but I’ve always had a soft spot for The First Noel. Christmas carols aren’t just songs; they are family memories for each of us perfectly paired together with a sweet Christmas jingle.
♦Toys for Tots – I love a good excuse to stroll down the toy aisles at Target and pick out the latest Barbie Doll, My Little Pony, or Lego set to buy for a child to make their Christmas a little brighter. Plus, it makes you appreciate everything you had as a child and have now as an adult a little bit more.
♦Christmas Card Making – This is a tradition I started a few years ago now, where I get a group of friends or family together to make Christmas cards for children in hospitals. I send them to Cards For Hospitalized Kids and they delivery them to hospitals throughout the country to bring some children a little dose of cheer. It’s a fun way to do good, get creative, spend time with the people you care about while making the cards, & enjoy some Christmas cookies in the process. Because we all need a snack break!
♦Christmas parties with family & friends – Whether being the lovely host or charming guest attending, I love any excuse to get all your friends and family together for sharing good laughs, fantastic traditional family foods, and cozy nights inside escaping the frosty Minnesota winter.
♦Beautiful Christmas church services – Being able to take some quiet time to reflect on the real reason for this beautiful season is one of my favorites. With all the fun hustle & bustle going on around us throughout the month, it’s nice to sit down in church and take some time to simply think about what I’m thankful for and all the blessings that have come my way in 2015.
♦Christmas music, candlelight, & sending out greeting cards – What’s better than a relaxing night in with a fresh pine candle burning which fills your apartment with the kind of smells that trigger memories. The Christmas tree is sparkling and you are sitting down writing handwritten Christmas cards to send snail mail style through the mail to the tune of “Have yourself a merry little Christmas.” That’s my kind of night during this month.
♦Local Christmas markets and city events – I am all about all things local these days! I love supporting local artists, businesses, nonprofits, restaurants and the list goes on. I love the feeling of being a part of my local community, supporting it, getting to know the people in it, and finding some fantastic one of a kind products along the way. Here are a couple local hot spots I plan to or have already checked out this month. Maybe you have some similar places in your city as well!
Bachman’s Idea House – This is located at the south Minneapolis Bachman’s location. It’s the perfect thing to do with your girlfriends, mom, or grandma. This is an entire house they decorate with the most gorgeous eye catching Christmas décor that makes you inspired to go do the same to your home. It’s fun to see the different ways they decorate and then you can go into the Bachman’s shop to purchases decorations used in the house, do other shopping, or stop at the local café inside for coffee, pastries, or lunch.
The Swedish Institute – This a little gem tucked away in St. Paul from what I’ve heard. They have all sorts of activities for the Christmas season. Being that I am part Swedish, I want to take in a little bit of my family heritage and see some of the traditions of the Swedes this year at the local Swedish Institute.
Holidazzle – This has been a tradition of mine ever since I moved to the twin cities! The parade was incredible seeing every single thing in lights! Now, that it has moved to Loring Park this year, I am looking forward to sipping on my local craft beer and taking in the local artisan’s gift giving options.
St. Paul Union Depot – This is a new location for holiday events in St. Paul this year. It has Christmas movie showings, the holiday market, and various performances throughout the month. The best part for me is I get to walk right on down there from my apartment because it’s so stinkin close and I can take the time to enjoy the twinkling park lights along the way!
♦Ice Skating – Let me start out by making something very clear, I am unfortunately one of the worst ice skaters in this great hockey state of Minnesota! Uffda. HOWEVER, that does not stop me from trying which includes lots of falling down, and good laughs for whoever happens to be the lucky one to be skating with me that day.
♦Sleigh Rides – I’ve never been on one! Have you? What do you think? This is one of the things on my bucket list and I am dying to go on a sleigh ride this year. Let me know if you have any great suggestions of places to go in Minnesota.
♦Snowshoeing – I’ve never done this either! I’ve thought about it, talked about it & how much I think I would enjoy it, and this year I have marked as the winter I am going to make this happen. I enjoy hiking, walking, snow, and awing over nature’s beauty so I figure it’s a no brainer that I would love this activity too, right?
That sums up most of my list of my favorite activities to do this time of year. This also helps me consciously choose how I’m going to slow down, reflect, and remember what I love about all these traditions of mine in the first place. What activities or events are you going to take in this holiday season and what do you love most about them. I would love to have you share them below in the comments so we can all get some new great ideas as well!
Hugs & Mochas,