This was the first year we decided to have a quiet Christmas Eve with just the four of us. No friends over, we declined a party invitation and decided to just spend quality time together. We had been running around the last few weeks and had just gone to a party the night before. We did keep busy though and it was a GREAT day!
We had SO much to do to get ready for Santa to come. Here were all of our preparations! First we painted Santa's magic skeleton key. If you have never heard of this, it is a cute way to answer a major problem for some Arizona families, which is how does Santa come into our house if we have no chimney :/ So each year we get a gold key (Ace Hardware) and let the kids decorate it with paint and glitter. Then we tie a ribbon and a cute note and hang it on the front door with a ribbon. Ella painted one side of it...
Then Ryen decorated the other side of it...
Then the kids and I hopped in the car to go on a TOP SECRET mission to surprise Daddy with one more present (that he of course dropped on me LAST MINUTE). We had to go to three different stores to find it. And we stopped at the Pet store to get the dogs some toys/gifts and some dog food. Which of course meant the kids had to play with animals there. All told we were gone like 4 hours but I was AMAZED they kept our secret and didn't tell Daddy. PS side note... any secret Daddy asks them to keep from me, they immediately find me and tell me. It is hilarious! When we got home we decorated cookies for Santa and Mrs. Claus (cause the girls felt bad that Santa gets all the cookies.)
Our finished products. The chocolate frosted were for The Claus'. The white frosted were Ella and Ryen's treat!
And of course we had a plate of food for the Reindeer! :)
Speaking of Reindeer. We had to head outside to sprinkle our Reindeer dust on the front lawn. In case you don't know, it glistens at night when the moon light hits it and it helps the Reindeer see our house from way up high and tells them where to land! ;)
My girls really love this tradition.
Next it was off to GRIMALDI'S for some yummy gourmet pizza for dinner. I had my free Large pizza coupon so we used it and ordered two. We had some leftovers to take home too which was the best! So good! When we got home from dinner, Daddy had a tradition of his own with the girls he needed to get to... which was helping track Santa's progress around the other side of the World where it was already Christmas Day. He loves doing this with them every year and the girls just LOVE to see where Santa has been.
The girls learned Santa was in Portugal at the moment :) They LOVED seeing the "News footage" of cameras in Paris that captured Santa flying over the city. To track Santa with your children visit Norad! It is awesome that they do this every year! Try hitting PIN IT under this blog post to add it to Pinterest since you have to wait till Next December for that site to be up and running again :) Here is a snapshot of the video footage.
Yet another of our Christmas Eve traditions is to give the kids each a brand new pair of jammies to wear. They look so cute...
And they put their boots and coats on so we could take them to Natal Circle in Tempe to see the Holiday Lights. Natal Circle is a very cool street that has been putting on an extravagant Christmas lights display every year. It is nestled in a neighborhood and attracts THOUSANDS of visitors every year from Thanksgiving till New Years Eve. The houses are all decorated and THEMED. It is truly a pretty remarkable tradition, and there is a short but cute article here detailing how it got started and how new homeowners to the neighborhood are filled in upon moving in. ha ha.
Ella snapped a photo of me all bundled and ready!
Some people drive through, but I think that is lame since it is literally a street of only 15 houses. So we walked through and we took the doggies with us!! And what else is great about this neighborhood is EVERY night from TG to NYE the owners of the houses sit in their driveways with firepits and greet everyone walking by. Every night. Can you believe that?
The kids really loved the Christmas lights and the entire walk through experience.
We had a great time.
I didn't know till we got there that they had big collection bins on each side of the street for canned foods to go to the United Food Bank which is a local charity that I support all the time. Next year I know to bring some goods with us. How wonderful and generous of these families to do this EVERY NIGHT for over 30 days for the community but to also have figured out a way do some more good in the community. Here are some of our favorite photos from Natal Circle :)
To view all the photos we took of Natal Circle I invite you view the slideshow below.
When we got home the girls got ready for bed. I gave them these adorable glow sticks from the Dollar store. One was a Christmas Stocking and the other Frosty. They loved them and slept with them in their beds that night.
We also settled in for bedtime with another Christmas Eve tradition. Twas The Night Before Christmas.
Of course like all the other parents out there we were busy doing last minute wrapping and prepping for all the toys. Jimmy was little to no help. We decided to wrap while we watched Elf for the first time ever and let's just say he has trouble multi-tasking.
After the toys were all under the tree, with the help of my camera and a great website called Capture The Magic I was able to transform a photo of our tree from this...
My girls were speechless when they saw it the next day! You will Ella's reaction in our blog post about Christmas Day! :) Even though it was just us, it was one of my favorite Christmas Eve's ever.