There is something so magical about the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everything around you contributes to the magic…the lights, the songs, the sales! Celebrating the holidays, especially Christmas, is one of my absolute favorite things to do and memories to make. Here are few of the highlights within my holiday season!

Christmas Movies – A few of my favorite classics include Miracle on 34th Street and It’s A Wonderful Life. Kid classics like Santa Clause (series), Home Alone (series) and the Muppets’ Christmas Carol are undefeated! Cartoon classics have to include Charlie Brown, Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express. But the non-traditional favorites are not debatable: Die Hard and Love Actually. Honorable Mention: Elf, A Christmas Story and White Christmas… only by my editor’s recommendation. LOL.

Christmas Music – Some of my all time favorite songs are only played during the holiday season. Thank goodness Pandora plays it year around! (Yes, I am a Christmas in July type of person.)

Ornaments – I am an ornament collector. I’ve been doing it for years now. I have my kids excited about it, too. Hallmark was the first store that started my obsession with ornaments, but now it has evolved. Every trip that I take, I try to always buy an ornament (and a shot glass) to remember the experience. It is one of my favorite types of souvenirs to collect. Plus I have way too many t-shirts.

Wrapping Gifts – Wrapping gifts is so therapeutic for me. I could do it for hours. However, wrapping for Christmas is an extra special treat. I like for my gift wrap paper to match the theme of the tree. One year the tree theme was purple and gold so all the gifts were wrapped in purple and/or gold themed paper. It really makes the tree pop in my opinion. (Parental note – I don’t put to/from labels on the gifts for my kids. They are too nosy! So I chose a paper for each child and wrap all their gifts in it, so only I know whose is whose. *insert evil laugh*)

Real Hot Chocolate – There is something so special about real hot chocolate. You know the kind actually made with milk and not water. That creamy chocolatey goodness can be experienced all year round, but it tastes the best at Christmas time! And don’t forget the marshmallows.

Elf on the Shelf – Some parents are anti-elf, and I totally understand why. Too much time commitment or too much creativity needed. I get it. But for me, it is the element of Christmas that I love almost as much as wrapping gifts! Our elf, named Elfie, is an adventurous soul who gets into anything, watches everything, and is Santa’s #1 spy. I introduced the elf years ago by a simple gift from my aunt Deborah. She didn’t realize the level of joy that she was inspiring (for me, not the kids), and I get it take it to new heights every year. Thanks Aunt D! (Parental note – If you are looking for elf inspiration, Elfie will soon have his own section on my website. Stay tuned!)

Family Time – Both sides of my family have Christmas traditions that I love. I get excited to spend time with them, of course, but the traditions (old favorites and new ones, too) are what really bring me joy. I’m thrilled that my children are able to experience them all and see the love that Christmas brings.

Charitable Giving – I generally tend to give to more charities and non-profits doing this season. Food drives at work and toy drives at the kids’ schools are events I try to participate in every year. My newest obsession is the Spirit of Sockmas, a New Jersey run organization that hands out “Sockmas Sacks” filled with socks, food, and water every holiday season. I have given to this organization two years in a row, and I had some colleagues do it with me. It is so nice to support organizations that have a heart for helping others. It is the true meaning of the Christmas spirit.

While we each have different cultures or religions, and we might celebrate in different ways, I hope that we all find some joy and peace during this holiday season.

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