The first tradition is Christmas caroling (combined with our treat deliveries) - which we already did this year. We listen to a kids Christmas carols CD constantly in the car, so the kids were well versed in their carols and then we sing just one song at each doorstep (because who really knows what to do when being caroled to? Hold open the door and smile? Invite them in? Sing along?). It started two years ago with Nathan just shaking jingle bells while mom and dad sang, but this year the kids really did sing (and shake bells, just because it's fun). Very fun, underdone tradition.
The second tradition is gingerbread house making. I wish I had some of the pictures to show you, but I remember making these with my family growing up, however it wasn't just houses - castles, teepees, you name it. They were grand creations. Last year was the first year we tried it in our family. *Warning - there is potentially a learning curve with this tradition! We use real homemade gingerbread (an alternative is graham crackers - sturdier and of more consistent size) and homemade frosting. Last year the gingerbread didn't turn out so great. This year, we got good tasting gingerbread, but had issues with the frosting. I put them in frosting tubes, so the kids could squirt it out easier, but their hot little hands made the frosting goopy. I also blundered by using margarine in the frosting. Crazy health nut - some things just need butter!!
But, that aside, we had a great time trying and snacking as we tried (*2nd Warning - this is not a low sugar activity for kids!). We invited some friends over (Spencer, Luke, and Benny + parental figures) to increase the housemaking fun. Matt and our friends' oldest child Spencer (with the help of his dad, big Spencer) got the only two standing houses. The rest of us opted for the just as comfortable, but with less complicated engineering, gingerbread teepees.
Benny must have been taking notes on the fake smiles from Carter:
The group hard at work (no, the hubbies aren't doing ALL the work - I was taking pictures so you could see this, and Kristi was helping Luke make his teepee - but she conveniently sidestepped when I pulled out the camera (yes, I saw that!) - all you can see of her hard work is her finger showing Luke where to put stuff)
Luke with his great looking finished product. His is definitely a born engineer and took his building very seriously (and was understandably frustrated with the goopy frosting!) I love the look on Luke's face in this pic - doesn't he look just like little baby sis Lila?
Spencer with the best looking house of the bunch!
Nathan's teepee...notice that he has the most candy per square foot!!
Matt's house. He only stole a few minutes of time away from helping the kids to throw this together, which is a shame because if you have ever seen this guy build with legos you would know he would have been capable of a gingerbread mansion! Next year...
So, lessons learned and we had a blast. Thanks Kristi and Spencer for sharing our tradition with us. Next year we will have to find a bigger place to have you all over for a gingerbread building party!