Kicking off the Christmas Season

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is a holiday in our house.  Every year, for the past dozen or so years, we have a Wreath Party and Open House.  Family and friends come from near and far to make their own Christmas or Advent wreath, decorate some Christmas cookies, write a letter to Santa, drink hot cocoa overflowing with marshmallows and candy canes, and just kick off the Christmas Season.  Our house is packed to the seams with happy people bustling around chatting, laughing, creating.

Each year we collect for a local charity.  For the past several years we have collected band-aids, blankets, and books for the children at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon.  The hospital is only able to provide boring, skin-colored band-aids at the hospital. We collect all the fun character band-aids. Same goes for the stark white blankets.  And the same ole books. We try to brighten it up. Bring a smile to the face of sick and hurting children. Every year, a few of us gather to pray over each and every blanket, book, and band-aid asking God to bring comfort and joy to these little patients.  

I love this day.  It’s one of my favorite days of the year.  I spend weeks planning and prepping for it.  I plan the menu. Everyone brings a dish to share, so there is a steady stream of yummy foods all day long, but I provide bagels and an egg or potato dish in the morning, and a crock pot soup bar the rest of the day.  

My dad and I take whichever kids want to come and gather evergreen boughs from the woods. One year we even had snow while gathering boughs. That was my daughters’ favorite year as we stopped part way through to build a snowman and have a snowball fight.  

I have learned over time, to pre-bake the sugar cookies a week or two prior to the party and then freeze them in Ziplock bags.  This saves me from hours of baking the night before. This is the Sugar Cookie Recipe I always use, except I substitute vanilla for the almond extract (so 1 1/2 teaspoons total) and I always use salted butter. And our favorite frosting comes from the Pioneer Woman.  It takes a bit longer to make, but the whipped cream-like consistency is so worth it. I make the frosting the morning of the party so it is fresh and fluffy.

I love that it is Open House style so I get to be surrounded by people I love all day long. Some years the UO v. OSU Civil War football game is included (if they play on that Saturday) and some years we just play Christmas movies.

I love watching them create their wreaths.  And the smiles on their faces when they are finished and they hold it up for everyone to see.  I love how happy everyone is. And how happy that makes me. It is such a good day! And the perfect way to start the Christmas season.

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