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Sunday, February 3, 2019

Chores with Children


Chore time is important in our household. We are a large family and in order to keep our home tidy, we all need to work together as a team to keep things afloat.  To accomplish this we divide our day into chunks.  We have daily routines that help us keep rhythm and order not just in our home but also in our day to day lives. Our routines help us to stay on course and not become overwhelmed.

Every morning after breakfast we all do our chores. To help know what needs to be done we have a chart to go to.  Over the years our system has been tweaked and  changed  but the overall premise is the same. For us, that looks like having a spot in our home where there is a simply laid out plan of what each person needs to do.  Currently our system looks like this:


Above is a picture of our large magnetic board divided into 5 sections. One for each child. (Our 17 year old does not have a section as he knows his chores and has his own routines set at this stage in his life.) Each craft stick has a task written on it with a magnet on the back. The children all have the same basic chores (make bed, brush teeth, get dressed, take care of laundry, etc.)  Then each child has a chore or two that is specific to their age level and we have a few daily tasks on their list as a reminder. The large white sheet in the sleeve at the bottom of the board on the right is my routine.  I like to have my routines visible in case I am having a brain fog kind of a day and cannot remember what the next step is.

Here is an example of our five year old's tasks for the day.  Everyone has the same basic morning tasks as well as their special responsibilities.  He cannot read yet so I drew some simple pictures.

On the marker board along the bottom are our "zone cards". We bless our house by focusing on specific rooms during the week. The cards help remind us which zone we need to focus on that day. You can read more about how we bless each area of our home by reading this post. 


Beside the zone cards are a few laminated miscellaneous chores that I may need help with from time to time.  They include things like:
folding a load of laundry
filling the bird feeders
watering the indoor plants
finding items to donate 

If I find that I need help with one of the above listed chores I just post it on the board for all the kids to see and they know there's a little extra task for the day. 

When the children have completed their chores they ask an older sibling to "check off" on them. Which means, the older child checks the list and if that chore is completed they put their initials next to it.  If it is not completed they put a ? which tells me that I need to check in with that child to see why they were not able to complete their task or if they simply forgot, in which case, they can go finish it. This system provides accountability and builds teamwork.  It has worked very well for this season of our lives. 

If the tribe wants to do screen time (devices/a program) they know that their tasks must be initialed. Screen time is not a given, it is a privilege that comes with responsibility. So, this helps keep everyone focused.  If they ask to do a screen I just say "Well, let's go look at our board." It keeps life simple.

So, that is a glimpse into our world. How do you do chores in your home? Do you have a system you want to share? I would love to hear all about it. :)

Learning alongside you,
Dawna

Saturday, December 22, 2018

How I "Just Be" on Christmas Day

Tea by Free-Photos
A calm settles over me as Christmas draws near. My heart is at rest. I love this time of year and all that it encapsulates however in years past I have become overwhelmed with all the busyness I allowed to creep into our holiday season. I would try to do all the things and that ended with me worn out with not much to give.  I really just wanted to slow it all down and soak it in this year. So, I cut back on activities, and just enjoyed the wonder of the season which has made all the difference.  I wanted to "be" and not "do".  Someone told me, "we are human BEings not human DOings."  I love the truth of that message.

As we expectantly await Christmas morning I look back at the traditions I hold dear that help me "be" vs. "do". 
JOY by jill111

I am like a child at Christmas time.  The excitement is palpable and I become giddy. I enjoy all of the planning that goes into such a special day.  The children help me during the weeks and days before Christmas as we plan the menu, grocery shop, bake cookies, and wrap gifts.  I make sure I do a little each day leading up to Christmas morning so I don't have to stay up super late Christmas Eve getting everything ready. I put my Christmas station on Pandora and I involve my children as much as possible. My rule of thumb is if we get tired or stressed then we stop for the day. I want us to be able to enjoy these planning moments because they are just as much a part of our traditions as Christmas day itself.

Christmas Eve we spend making gingerbread houses and talking about the big day. We bless our house with a cleaning so Christmas morning everything is tidy and in order. As evening draws near we dress up and go out to sing carols and hear the Christmas message at church. Afterwards we pick up take out (Thai or Chinese food) and head home to set the table and have everything ready for Daddy's arrival from work. We eat our fun meal together and enjoy the Christmas tree.  Depending on the time we may even watch A Charlie Brown Christmas if we haven't yet done so... it is the movie we end our Christmas movie extravaganza with.
New Years Eve by 6979608

We tuck squirmy, excited children into bed and then my husband and I bring the gifts downstairs and place them under the tree before we head off to bed, although I won't sleep much.

 I am the first one up Christmas morning and, still donning my pajamas and slippers, I will sneak down the stairs and place a piece of candy in each stocking.  I plug in the Christmas lights, light the candles, turn on the Christmas music, and set the coffee to brewing.  I breathe deeply... it is Christmas morning.

I pray and ponder what this day means and thank God for His precious gift to me, His gift of grace and salvation, and the sweet souls He has blessed my life with who still lay slumbering in their beds. I sing along with Away in a Manger as I preheat the oven and pull out the breakfast I prepped the day before.  Everything is ready to go. 

I wander back up the stairs and kiss my husband good morning.  We giggle as we gather six stockings and wake the children.  "It is Christmas morning my darlings, everyone gather in Mom and Dad's room and we will begin our special day". My husband opens with a prayer and then we hand out the stockings, each holding a single piece of candy to be enjoyed. As they find their sugary treasure I read them a poem that thanks God for the gift of them, tells of why we celebrate today, and then reveals a riddle that they must solve.  The morning scavenger hunt has begun.  A tradition that began over a decade ago and that is one of the most looked forward to moments of our Christmas day.

The children wander all about the house gathering clues until, at the end, they each receive a gift, rather than a stocking filled with small items. It helps simplify things and keeps overwhelm at bay. 

After our scavenger hunt is over we assemble at the table for breakfast. I keep food on Christmas day very simple (click here for this year's menu). Most of which I prep ahead of time because I do not want to cook on Christmas, that's my gift to myself. I also do not wash dishes.  So rather than eating off of china, I find the cutest themed disposable dinnerware and set a festive table with table cloth, centerpiece, and plates. At the end of the day it all gets rolled up and thrown in the trash... no dishes, no hassle.

After we are finished enjoying our meal, we gather around the tree and pass out gifts.  Each person waits and watches as the gifts are handed out.  We pass one gift at a time and watch that person open and enjoy their item before moving on to the next.  It is very unrushed and leisurely.  It teaches patience and the receiver of the gift is able to express their thanks to the giver.  We keep gift giving simple, as I mentioned above. We find it works well for our family not just financially but also just the mind set of having a few nice things rather than being inundated with a bunch of items.

After the gifts have been opened, we work together to tidy up and then we go about enjoying one another.  We often receive a game for Christmas so we will set up and play the game together. My parents stop by to visit and enjoy food and laughter.  It is a very relaxed and enjoyable day that ends with smiles and thankfulness all around.

Don't be afraid, dear ones, to keep it simple on yourselves.  No one expects you to be Wonder Woman, so you shouldn't expect it of yourself. If you notice yourself getting stressed, just stop. Take a deep breath and remember why you are doing what you are doing.  Ask yourself if it is essential or if it can slide. Allow yourself to take shortcuts and keep things easy so you can enjoy what matters most this holiday season.

May your days be Merry and Bright,
Dawna












Friday, December 21, 2018

Hassel Free and Gluten Free Christmas Menu

I do not want to spend hours in the kitchen on Christmas day.  So, I prep as much as possible ahead of time and keep the menu simple, that's my gift to myself.
Card by rawpixel
What's cooking this year (you will see links for both gluten free/dairy free and regular versions):
Breakfast
Oven Scrambled Eggs (click here for dairy free version)



Monkey Bread for my tribe and these gluten free, dairy free cinnamon rolls for me. (prepping both the day before and baking Christmas morning)

Sausage and bacon

Fruit

Sparkling juice

Lunch
Ham in the crockpot (I use a lot less sugar than the recipe calls for and it still tastes great).

Sunflower Crunch Bacon Slaw (bagged from Walmart)

Baked potatoes

Homemade bread (per request of my darlin' eight year old.) I will just make one loaf and pop the ingredients in my bread machine Christmas morning. I just buy frozen gf rolls for myself if I want bread.

Ambrosia Salad/ dairy free ambrosia salad here

Veggie Tray

Egg nog or Holiday Nog

Dinner
Leftovahs'

Goodies include Peppermint filled whoopie pies (click here for gf version), pretzel turtles (you can make these with gf pretzels too), and  muddy buddies with cocoa and candy canes.

What's cooking for your holiday celebration? Do you have allergies that you need to work with and have a favorite recipe to share? Please share your ideas in the comments below.  I'd love to hear from you! :)

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Love,
Dawna


Monday, December 17, 2018

Countdown to Christmas Reality


Christmas kids by candice_rose

Christmas is my favorite time of year. The music, the baking, the wrapping, the giving, the decorating... oh my goodness, do I LOVE IT! However, even in the midst of my precious ones singing "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" and seeing their joy as they choose and wrap gifts (with lots and lots of tape) for their loved ones, life still happens. I just want to share with you a little bit of reality in case the past  few Countdown to Christmas posts seem like too much silver and gold. 


My children attend a co op once a week and I help teach a few classes. My first class of the day happens to only have two preschool students, who also happen to be my kids. I read stories to them, sing songs and do crafts for 45 minutes. It's fun! Or so I thought, until my four year old confessed that my class was boring. So, the following week I tried to make our time together more exciting. I decided to hide stuffed animals around the room and  have the children go find them. Giggling ensued as my 3 and 4 year old raced about trying to find all the hidden Beanie Babies. I'd tell them if they were getting "hot" or "cold" depending how close they were to the stuffed animal. My four year old was "getting warmer" and becoming very excited to find an animal when his little sister shrieked out "I found one!  I found one Momma!  I found a STUFFY!"
Mouse by Alexas_Fotos

I turned around to see my precious blond haired darling with a dead mouse in her hands. The critter was lodged in a trap but his body was protruding from it. Her dimpled hands were squeezing it's lifeless body as if it were an orange and she was determining if it was ripe or not. Once she realized just how squishy her "stuffy" was, she dropped it like a hot potato. I scooped her up and whisked her off to the bathroom where we washed our hands for quite a while. Once we got back into the classroom I disposed of the mouse. This is life.

Head on over to My Pink Gems where I am guest posting today to read the rest of my Countdown to Christmas reality!


Keeping it real and remaining jolly,
Dawna



Saturday, December 8, 2018

Tried and True Christmas Cookie Recipes


Photo by severyanka at pixabay
The Christmas tree is glowing warmly with it's colorful lights and the scent of pine fills the air. Cozy blankets are draped over the couches awaiting little ones to curl up in them as night falls and the wind beckons to come inside. These are the days where we don sweaters, wear comfy socks, and have soup for suppah'. While the soup simmers and the tea kettle sings I gather my sweet ones about me and let them help gather ingredients.  Dimpled hands plunk butter and flour onto the counter. Older children grab the eggs and my eager six year old fetches his favorite ingredient... SUGAR! It is cookie baking weather and while Bing croons in the background, we whip up our holiday favorites to hand out to friends and family and hold back enough to enjoy ourselves.  So grab your favorite cuppa and join us for our favorite recipes of the season.

Dawna's Sugar Cookie Recipe
Christmas Cookies by Jill111 @ pixabay

Makes 45 cut cookies or 24 drop cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 and 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer.  Beat in the egg and the vanilla.  Add baking powder and flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition.  Dough will be stiff; blend last bit off flour in by hand.  No need to chill dough.

Divide dough into 2 balls.  On a floured surface roll each ball into a circle, 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8" thick. Cut and bake 6 to 7 minute for cut cookies and 8 to 10 minutes for drop cookies, or until edges are lightly browned. 

Cool and frost if desired.



Dawna's Candy Cane Kiss Cookies



Use the recipe above for sugar cookies but:
Add 1 tsp peppermint extract in addition to the vanilla extract.
Stir in 1/2 cup chopped candy cane Hershey Kisses (about 20) into the dough before baking. (Optional: you will need another 24 whole Candy Cane Hershey Kisses to use as toppers for your cookies once they are finished baking.)

Use drop cookie method to scoop dough into 1 tsp round balls and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or till edges are lightly browned.

Let cookies cool for a few minutes.  While cookies are still slightly warm, press a whole Hershey Kiss  into the center of the cookie and pop them into the freezer for about 15 minutes so the Kiss doesn't melt.  Enjoy!
Cocoa by Terri C via Pixabay

We love a good cinnamon laden, buttery cookie with a warm cup of coffee or tea.  These cookies remind me of my Aunt's house.  She would always bake up a batch of cookies when I came to visit as a child and Snickerdoodles are one of her favorites.   I discovered Mrs. Sigg's recipe years ago and it has become a family favorite. The only changes we make is to substitute butter for the shortening (yes, that makes a full cup of butter for these decadent cookies.)  Also, I use baking powder instead of cream of tartar due to the acidic taste. These cookies come out HUGE and make an impressive addition to any cookie basket. :)

These cookies smell like snow to me.  When the winter weather kicks in you can be assured that I will break out the molasses and ginger and bake a batch of these beautiful classic cookies that remind me of Grammy's house.   The only substitute I make to the recipe is that I use butter instead of margarine because I prefer the taste and texture it gives to my baked goods. 
A very easy but addicting treat made from 3 simple ingredients; rolos, pretzels, and M&Ms.  My little ones LOVE to help make these. When we run out of Rolos we use the extra Candy Cane Kisses and make pretty red and white striped pretzel turtles. ;) The recipe is easily adaptable.  You can use a pecan to top each turtle instead of an M&M, or you could use different mini candybars (Milkyway, Snickers, Almond Joy) instead of Rolos. Enjoy!

Been whipping up this recipe for over a decade.  This is one of my husband's favorite cookies so it is a must that I bake a few batches at Christmas time even though it is a year round cookie in our home. Classics are great and this recipe will not fail you!  Don't tell anyone else but these are awesome for breakfast too. ;)

If you have a friend or family member on your list who is gluten sensitive then look no further than these decadent brownie bites from Chocolate Covered Katie. I began my gluten free journey several years ago and this woman's blog saved my sanity when I needed a chocolate fix. Not only is Katie adorable, but she loves chocolate and makes it healthy! Zip on over and whip up these super simple bars and serve em' up at your next cookie swap. * I substitute almonds for walnuts in the recipe because I almost always have them on hand.*
Breakfast by Pexels at pixabay

King Arthur not only has a good gluten free flour blend, but they really mastered this recipe.  It is hard to tell that this is a gluten free cookie. If you or someone you know has a gluten intolerance, give these a try.  You'll be reaching for seconds in no time.

These are my ultimate favorite chocolate chip cookies, hands down.  I love Ghirardelli's 60% cacoa chocolate premium baking chips.  They are a nice, big chocolate morsel made from premium cacoa for a rich taste.  Grab a big ol' glass of milk to chase these down with and don't forget the napkin because these are awesome warm out of the oven. 


What are your favorite cookies to bake or enjoy this time of year? Please share with me in the comments below.  Thank you for joining me for another Countdown to Christmas Saturday. May your days be Merry and Bright and your cookie jar be plentiful!

With love,
Dawna




Saturday, December 1, 2018

Celebrating Advent

   
A welcoming glow greeted me from frosted windowpanes as we pulled into the driveway this evening.  I derive great comfort in seeing light shine forth from darkness - a soft beacon beckoning me to enter into warmth and safety.
In the book of Matthew (chapter 5) we read:

"14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. "

Our world has become so dark - by sharing Christ's love this Advent season we can share the light of our awesome Savior with a hurting and dying world.  Christ is the light, as it is written in the book of John:
" When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”" (John 8:12)
Later on in John chapter 9 Jesus says "5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus no longer walks on this earth, but we do and as Christ followers we carry His Spirit inside of us.  We are the ones to show others His light whether it is in our own home, to our friends and family, or to those we pass by in our comings and goings of every day life. When I say "His light" I don't mean you have to go door to door and covert people to Christianity. What I am talking about is showing His love in our actions and words to those we come in contact with day in and day out. The very definition and nature of God is love. How are we reflecting Him this Christmas season?

As Christmas day gets closer and closer our family anticipates the precious babe in the straw by celebrating Advent with daily readings.  There are many different Advent devotionals.  In our home we enjoy reading from The Jesus Storybook Bible with the little ones in the morning. It is a nice way to begin our day, the readings are short and the illustrations captivate my children. Later in the day, as the sun begins to set, we snuggle up with cocoa or tea and enjoy a chapter in  One Wintry Night by Ruth Graham Bell as a family. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story telling draws us all in.  Another beautiful family advent is  The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. She walks you from Creation to Christ's coming on a breath taking journey that helps you understand the depth of God's love.

 If you are a weary mom in need of encouragement this holiday season this Momma has an awesome advent emailed to your inbox. Billy Graham also has a free  Advent devotional that helps you prepare for Christ's birth.

This time of year it is nice to pause and ponder why Christmas is so special, why He had to come and the joy that He will be coming again.  Our reading time spurs discussion that goes deeper and helps light tiny flames inside the eternal spirits that I have been entrusted with caring for.

   Now, please do know, that all of the little faces around my table are not smiling eagerly up at me as I read devotions to them. The smallest ones have a hard time sitting still so they need to be occupied with coloring pages, Play Doh,  or something quiet to do as they sit  beside me while I read aloud.  Sometimes it takes us longer to get through our reading for the day. We might have to take a break to assist little ones on the potty, or separate squabbling siblings, but we try to read during our "happy hour", that time of day where everyone is most generally in a good mood.  Not during meltdown times.  I find it easier to do a short family devotional reading at the table during breakfast and then if I want to read a longer story (like Ruth Graham Bell's One Wintry Night...) then that is best for snuggling under a blanket on the couch where everyone is comfy and cozy.

   We pair our Advent readings with our Advent calendar.  We have two calendars.  One is a vintage paper calendar with a sleepy town on it and each window in each home opens and has a little picture inside.  It was a gift from my Daddy when I was a young girl and I still treasure it to this day and so do my children.  Our other Advent calendar is a beautiful wooden house from Hobby Lobby and I place a note inside for the children to read each day.  We have six children so cramming six tiny gifts in each cubby is a) expensive and  b) unrealistic. Instead, when the children open the drawer  they have a piece of paper to read aloud that has either:
1. A clue that will lead to a special treat or small gift to share.
2. A Christmas activity that we can do together. (Bake cookies, roll a snowman game, go caroling, get dressed into pj's and drive around looking at Christmas lights, etc.)
3. A way we can give to others this season.
(Visiting at the nursing home, giving a gift card to those who pump our gas or bag our groceries, bringing cookies to the men and women who serve our community, etc.)

  How do you celebrate Advent?  Do you use a calendar or have a favorite devotional that you read from? Please share in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you!

Only 24 days until Christmas! (*Insert squeals of delight*)!

Counting down with you,
Dawna

This post is one of many from my Countdown to Christmas series. Feel free to click on any of the links below for more tips this holiday season.
How to Throw A Memorable Christmas Party
Countdown to Christmas Movie List
Holiday Gift Giving
Countdown to Christmas Tips

Saturday, November 24, 2018

How to Throw a Memorable Christmas Party

We lived in a small, in town apartment and I desperately wanted to have a Christmas party in our cozy space, but was unsure how many people we could fit.  My husband advised me to invite twice as many people as I thought we could host because many times when you invite people to an event only half are able to attend.  So, I sent out invitations to 20 families. Much to our surprise, 18 invitations came back as a "yes". I was so excited and yet concerned how we would fit everyone, would I have enough food, should I plan activities, how would I get everything ready in time? There was so much to think of.  Here is what has helped me stay organized and remain joy filled while hosting parties, whether for Christmas or at any other time of the year.
Christmas Gift by JESHOOTScom @ pixabay

1.  Choose a date.
We've had Christmas parties in early December, on Christmas Eve, or even into the New Year. Just make sure you choose your date enough in advance to get invitations out and in our neck of the woods we have a "snow date" planned in case of inclement weather. 

Merry Christmas by Raw Pixel at Pixabay

2. Send out invitations.
Whether you are more of a paper person or prefer the immediate results of an email or Facebook event, make sure you get your invitations out early! I suggest at least two weeks in advance. The more heads up you can give people the better.  Don't forget to include if your party is a potluck or important items people might need to bring if it is a sledding party or has some sort of theme. 



3. Keep it SIMPLE.
Stick to tried and true recipes you know, use disposable dinner ware to make it easy on cleanup, keep decorating easy.  I like to put colored glass ornaments inside large clear glass vases as centerpieces and set out mason jars tied with red ribbon and filled with candy canes as a bit of whimsy. A few sprigs of greens tucked in here and there and decorating is done.  As much as possible, err on the side of simplicity.  Having too many options can be overwhelming and will add up to more time and money.

3.Plan ahead!
The key to keeping things joy filled is to plan ahead.  I make up a master list of all I want to accomplish before the party and set a date on each item.  Some things I can only do the day of or hours before the party (make the punch, prepare the salad) and others I can do days in advance (vacuum, dust, buy ingredients, plan games, etc.).  I do a little bit each day leading up to the party so I am not running about frantic the day of the big bash.

4. Budget!
As we have discussed before, set a budget for your food, decorations, party favors, etc. It helps to know what you have to work with before buying items and then becoming stressed because you have spent more than you wanted.

Christmas Girls by Jill111 @ pixabay

5. Get help!
Don't be afraid to grab your bestie and ask for help whipping up cookies the week of the party or ask if someone wants to come early and help you decorate and set out food. It is so much fun to party plan with others.

Don't shoulder the burden all yourself, that will just lead to stress. Potlucks are a beautiful thing and this free planner is awesome for helping to know who is bringing what, or you can delegate and let people know what to bring.  Regardless, don't do it all alone unless you want to get burnt out. 

Sticking to well known and loved recipes makes for less stress. Keeping the main dish to a one pot meal also helps keep things easy which is why I am a big fan of soups. I like to find dishes I can prep ahead of time because the last thing I want to do when guests arrive is to be cooking.  Here are some of our favorites dishes that are easy to make for a crowd.  We ask guests to bring a side dish and/or a dessert to share. We serve everything up buffet style

Seven Layer Dip with tortilla chips.

Bermuda Spinach Salad We ask guests to also bring side dishes to share. 

Chicken Taco Soup  with tortilla chips (guests could bring the chips). The recipe is easily adaptable to feed a crowd.  We have done a soup potluck in the past where everyone brings their favorite soup and that is fun too.
Christmas Table by Terri C at Pixabay

Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread ( I make a few pans of this in advance and pop em' in the freezer)


For dessert we put out a big bowl of Reindeer Chow  a.k.a Muddy Buddies, which I make in advance and keep in the freezer.  I also enjoy making my family's favorite Candy Cane Cookies.

In the past for party favors I have passed out out these amazing Peppermint Chocolate Whoopie Pie Pops, except mine are almost always too big to put on a stick so I just dip em' and wrap them in a cute clear Christmas goodie bag.  Each guest receives one. They are a huge hit!


7. Plan Games
Games are a great way to break the ice and can lead to very memorable parties.  Some parties don't need a game at all, people are just content to laugh and share stories.  However, if you notice people staring into their drinks, then it might be time to pull out a game. Some of our favorite games are: (click on the highlighted links below on how to play the games and supplies needed).

Minute to Win It (below are our top 5 that bring the most laughs) These are great to do with parties that have kids and teens.  A more sophisticated crowd may frown upon these
 - Nose Dive (to make it Christmas themed, add a red pom pom as a bonus and it is worth extra points)

Bubble Wrap Ball - we wrapped up inexpensive gifts in saran wrap until it made a huge ball and then set the party goers in a circle and passed the ball around.  SO much FUN!







8. Set the mood with MUSIC.
Don't forget to put on an awesome playlist. Spotify, Google Play, Pandora... whatever you use for tunes, you can set up your play list in advance and just hit "play" before guests arrive. We love Pandora's "Family Christmas Radio" station this time of year. It has a nice mix of old and new favorites. 

9. Welcome guests at the door.
When possible, try to greet guests as they arrive so they have a warm welcome. Thank them for any food/gifts they may bring, offer them a drink, and try to introduce them to at least one other guest. 
Cup by Silviarita at Pixabay

10. RELAX!
Once your guests have arrived, relax and enjoy them.  Let go of all the details, your party has been well planned. The food is ready to go, your home is filled with love and laughter, now go relish in the moment! It is easy as a hostess to become so busy with making sure everyone else is having a good time that you forget to enjoy yourself.  Don't do that this year!  You've done an awesome job preparing for this day, so go bask in it. 

Have some party planning tips or an awesome recipe to share with me? Give me a holla' and post it in the comment section below.  

Please come back and join me next week as our Countdown to Christmas continues.  I will be sharing how we celebrate Advent. Only 31 days till Christmas... WOOT!

Basking in the wonder of this time of year,
Dawna