I recently told Brad our days are turning into Groundhog Day. His response was, “Huh?” He apparently hasn’t seen the movie with Bill Murray. If you haven’t either, it’s about a man who wakes up to the same day over and over and over again.
To break up the monotony of these days now spent at home, I decided to plan some themed days for the girls. Not only would this give me a little project, it would also give the girls something new to enjoy. First up, Christmas.
What gave me this idea was finding gingerbread cookie mix while organizing the pantry as well as one of our craft project ideas. We had never made salt dough ornaments together, so we decided to give it a try. I initially thought we would make cute Easter shaped ornaments but realized I only have Christmas cookie cutters as well as a few others like a flamingo, a penguin, a pineapple, a rooster, a snowflake and Mickey Mouse. So Laney picked out the ones she liked, we spent one morning making them and then the next day painting them. The following day was to be ‘Christmas Day’ and we would use them to decorate our tree! I will share the recipe at the bottom of this blog post.
‘Christmas Eve’ Prep
I decided to make it a surprise for the girls so I didn’t tell them what I was planning. The night before our themed day once they went to bed, I set up the small tree, that is usually in Laney’s room to decorate Laney’s room during the holiday season, on our fireplace hearth with some lights and a star on top. I also went through my present stash to see what little things I had to wrap for them. I came up with a Big Hero 6 Look & Find Book, a Moonlite Book and a Walking Bruni Toy. This would also be the perfect opportunity to give them the Life-size Sven we had been hanging on to after Christmas. We scored him on sale for $19 and had been saving him under a blanket in the corner of our dining room for months. Brad and I couldn’t believe Laney hadn’t tried to peek under it to see what was in the big box.
When the girls woke up, they were so excited to see the tree and presents! Here is how we spent the day:
Breakfast + Christmas Movie
I didn’t make anything special that morning, but you could absolutely plan for something you traditionally make on Christmas. I just gave the girls what they wanted and we watched Mickey’s Christmas Carol on Disney+.
Homemade Gingerbread Cookies
Betty Crocker’s gingerbread cookie mix is the best ever. I made them for a friend years ago and after she and her family devoured them, she begged me for the recipe assuming they were homemade. She literally couldn’t believe it when I told her it was just a Betty Crocker bag mix. I still had 2 bags left over from the Christmas holiday and decided to just go ahead make all of them. I normally just go the easy route of make round ginger snap cookies or pressing the batter into a mold instead of rolling it out but that was going to be half the fun with the girls to use cookie cutters. We used our Mickey gingerbread cookie cutter that came with a kit my parents gave me years ago. Laney loved mixing the dough and kneading it. The rolling and cutting was definitely time consuming but we had fun doing it together. Once we had baked our many batches of cookies and had them on the cooling racks, we went on our morning walk before lunch.
After our walk, I fed the girls lunch and put them down for naps. Once they were up, we decorated our cookies. I had a tub of vanilla frosting in the pantry, so I iced the cookies instead of piping the icing. I figured that would be easier for Laney to decorate with sprinkles, chocolate chips and M&Ms, so I iced as Laney decorated. Morgan even came over to decorate a few.
Once finished, it was time for presents, which Laney had been asking about all day. I managed to squeeze the girls into their Christmas dresses and sat them down in front of the tree for some pictures. They were thrilled with their books and were especially excited about Sven! He has been a big hit! He is interactive and talks by pull the reins and moving his head. He will even ask to be fed a carrot, which he also came with.
We spent the rest of the evening having dinner, which consisted of pizza on the smoker and gingerbread cookies for dessert and had family time. You could absolutely plan for a more traditional holiday meal but I was just working with what we already had in our fridge and freezer.
I had so much fun planning this themed day and the rest of the family enjoyed it so much I can’t wait to plan more! I already have a few ideas in mind. Stay tuned! But first, as promised, here is the salt dough recipe:
Salt Dough Recipe
Spray or Acrylic Paint
Paint Pens, optional
Clear Coat Sealer, optional
Twine or Ribbon
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and then knead on the counter for a smoother dough. Roll out dough to 1/4″ inch and cut out shapes. (I recommend rolling out on a small piece of parchment paper — explanation below.) Getting the dough thickness right is key, otherwise the dough will bubble up in the middle if too thick. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Salt dough can stick to your works surface, so spread a little extra flour to help with this. Once on the baking sheet, press your leaves and flowers into the dough (additional tips below) and use the straw or toothpick to make a hole or two in each shape. Bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours.
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