A Fancy Nancy Banquet

 

 

Before Thanksgiving, we borrowed Fancy Nancy: Our Thanksgiving Banquet from the library.  Fancy Nancy is among our favorite book characters.  She inspires the kids to use sophisticated vocabulary words and to behave with their best etiquette. In this particular book, Nancy has the opportunity to dine with the adults, away from the “kid” table.  Naturally, our kids wanted to do the same.  Just before packing away our fall decor, we decided to have a family dinner in our formal dining room with ceramic plates instead of our usual plastic fare.  The kids relished every second of it, and we were pleasantly surprised with their outstanding table manners.

When I set the table for Thanksgiving, I realized the table stayed pretty all season and didn’t collect junk.  I wanted to do the same with Christmas décor, so I set out to create an elegant Christmas tablescape.  George and I have twelve place settings of fine china, flatware, and crystal.  Over the course of our marriage, we’ve used it on special occasions such as anniversaries and holiday meals.  In twelve years we’ve probably used them no more than once a year.  Why?  Mostly because I don’t like hand washing dishes and our china isn’t dishwasher safe.  That’s ridiculous.  I decided that not only was our dining room table going to be set using our fine china, but we were also going to use it!

I gave the chandelier my usual dressing, garland adorned with my Old World Christmas Wedding Ornaments.  They are among my favorite ornaments, but are also quite delicate and are best away from little hands.  I then created a table runner with lime deco mesh, which I brightened with hurricane glass filled with candles and silver ornaments.  I thought our silver plated nativity was the perfect finishing touch and compliment to our china.

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We’ve already used the formal dining room twice this month and hand washing the dishes wasn’t such a hassle either time.  First, we celebrated my mom’s birthday with my parents, sister, and brother in law.  There was room for all ten of us at the table, and even the quads were allowed to use the china.   Then, my college room mates joined us for brunch.  On each occasion, our guests presumed the beautiful table was for show, and felt honored when they discovered it was for them.  If a milestone birthday and nearly two decades of friendship aren’t worthy of china dining, I don’t know what is.

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I’m not sure whether we’ll have more guests over before Christmas or not, but our table is gorgeous and awaiting another meal.  Even if we don’t have guests over, our family will enjoy it at least once more before I come up with a winter tablescape.

Do you have a formal dining area or fine china?  Do you use it?

hugs!

Amber


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Holiday Home Tour 2015

The day after Thanksgiving, I tuck our fall décor away and begin the task of decking the halls.  I’ve always enjoyed adding a little Christmas sparkle to the house, and that has not changed since the quads arrived.  In the past few years, we’ve made a few changes to our décor keeping safety and functionality in mind, but that doesn’t mean our Christmas décor is lacking.

Two years ago we introduced the tradition of Elf on the Shelf, and the kids have enjoyed searching for our elf, Bop, each morning.  This year, Bop appeared two days after Thanksgiving hanging from a deco mesh hammock.  After briefly studying Bop, Rylin proclaimed, “He’s just a decoration!!!” Doing my best to mask any emotion, I inquired why she thought he was a decoration. Smarty pants quickly replied, “LOOK AT HIM!”  She’s continued with similar remarks and inquisitive questions ever since.  I’m doing a precarious dance between honesty and letting the kids enjoy the magic of childhood.  I’m finding it’s best to respond to questions with, “What do YOU think?”  This gets the kids to do a little creative thinking of their own, and I’ve been quite impressed with their ideas.

Christmas decor can be beautiful, yet functional and cozy for young children.©FourtoAdore.com

After breakfast the kids helped us put ornaments on the tree for the first time.   They took their job surprisingly well and treated each ornament with care.  They had a few interesting design choices (e.g. layering six or or more ornaments on a branch), but maintained focus and took time to put each ornament on the tree.  Since having the tree up, they’ve rearranged few times, but are always good about handling the ornaments with care.  Granted, we are currently using only shatterproof, dough, and plastic ornaments.  I don’t think they are quite ready to handle our heirloom and blown glass beauties.  The deco mesh helps fill the tree with glitz even though our best ornaments are still in storage.

We still use the seven foot tree George and I purchased for our first apartment, but it’s a bit short for our den these days.  To give it some height, and restrict the kid’s access to ornaments, we put it on a sturdy coffee table.  This particular table was my grandmother’s, and she used it for her Christmas tree too.   A few years ago, we refinished the table and it  serves as a kid’s table in the playroom.

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When we moved into our house, we immediately covered the fireplace with the magnetic board that covered the fireplace at our old house.  The kids weren’t quite two when we moved in, and we didn’t want them accessing the fireplace.  However, they are now 3.5 years old and able to respect boundaries and understand safety much better now.  We decided to pull the board off this year to see how they’d handle it.  I was ecstatic to find gas logs behind the board.  It’s been so easy to enjoy a cozy fire without having to deal with wood and the kids don’t mess with it at all.  In fact, they ask if we can turn on the fire so they can read Christmas books on the rug.

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For the quad’s first Christmas, we ordered monogrammed stockings, but had a conundrum of figuring out how to hang eight stockings.  It didn’t make sense to buy eight holders, and we didn’t want to drill into the mantle.  Instead, we used three industrial C clamps to attach a curtain rod to the mantle.  It’s proven to hold all of our stockings and be sturdy against the most curious toddlers.

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I wanted to enjoy some of my favorite blown glass ornaments, but knew they couldn’t be hung safely on the tree.  I created a wreath around the dining room chandelier adorned it with my  bride’s box ornament collection. This way my ornaments are out of little hand’s reach, but I can still enjoy them.

 

This year, I spruced up the playroom bookshelf with a basket of Christmas books and our Melissa & Doug Nativity Set. I wedged the nativity’s base on the bookshelf and the kids leave it there though they enjoy playing with the nativity pieces and rearranging them.

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The girls have been doing well with keeping things nice in their big girl room.  This year, they have a silver tinsel tree with pastel ornaments on their dresser, and they are oh so proud of it.  The boys aren’t quite ready for removable ornaments in their room, but have a sturdy metal tree to enjoy.

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While the tree appears to take center stage in our Christmas décor, the nativity is our most important piece.  My parents used this nativity in their first home and passed it down to me when I had my first apartment.

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How do you deck the halls?  What are your favorite decorations?

If you are searching for inspiration, consider cruising Pinterest for seasonal décor.  I have my own Christmas board, and BloomNation also has a board dedicated to holiday florals that is worth a peek.

Hugs!

 

Amber

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Deck the Halls

Christmas Traditions, Old & New

Each year, the week of Thanksgiving, George and I put our Christmas tree up as our favorite Christmas movies play in the background.  This year the quads were too small to help, so we worked under the cover of darkness.  The next day, they had a special screening of Baby Einstein’s Baby Santas, however.  I imagine Christmas tree decorating as being a fun family activity for years to come, especially when our “kid tree” fills with more family creations and treasures.

My mom found this beautiful wide mesh ribbon for our tree and mantle.  It did such a lovely job of filling our tree.  In fact, we used about 50% fewer ornaments than usual (nice time saver around here!).  We typically decorate our mantle with garland laced in shimmery ribbon and white lights.  However, we knew that would be a danger this year.  Eight little hands would undoubtedly unplug the lights and yank the garland.

George and I spent the last year debating about how to enjoy a Christmas tree in the den, while keeping it safe for toddlers.  We ended up placing it atop our round coffee table so it's too high for them to tip.  The lowest branches are void of ornaments and all other low hanging ornaments are plastic, shatter proof and hook free.  Each of the quads has grasped a branch, but they really don't bother it much.

George and I spent the last year debating about how to enjoy a Christmas tree in the den, while keeping it safe for toddlers. We ended up placing it atop our round coffee table so it’s too high for them to tip. What’s really neat is that I remember my grandmother putting her tree on this same table so actually it’s an old family tradition.  The lowest branches are void of ornaments and all other low hanging ornaments are plastic, shatter proof, and hook free. Each of the quads has grasped a branch and grabbed a few ornaments, but they really don’t bother it much especially as the novelty wears away.

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I never would have imagined having this many stockings adorning our mantle, but it’s a beautiful sight. One bitter cold evening this week, George bravely built a fire and the quads obediently stayed away from the “hot”. They all know the baby sign for “hot” and heed our warnings.

In order to hang so many stockings, and "quad proof" them, we used a curtain rod and three industrial clamps.  The quads have done well with using their eyes to see and not touching, but the rod is really strong if they ever pull one.

In order to hang so many stockings, and “quad proof” them, we used a curtain rod and three industrial clamps. The quads have done well with using their eyes to see and not touching, but the rod is really strong if they ever pull one.

Once our den is transformed into a cozy Christmas scape, it’s time for cookies and popcorn.  The first Christmas we spent in our house, our neighbors generously delivered the most delicious sugar cookies we ever tasted.   At first they taunted us saying it was a “secret family recipe”, but in time they shared it with us and it’s now a family favorite here.

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I think the secret to this recipe is the heavy cream, it adds a nice richness to the flavor and it softens the texture.  This recipe yields four dozen, but I took my sweet time snapping a picture of them, and only six mini cookies remained three days after we baked them.  Also, the frosting never made it onto this batch of cookies because they were devoured too soon!

As a child, my grandmother mailed us an Advent calendar filled with chocolates, marking down the days until Christmas Day.   I remember anxiously waiting for its arrival, and then trying to figure out whether my sister or I would get to eat the first morsel (each day had one chocolate inside so we took turns).  Chocolate filled Advent calendars are rare these days, but every now and then I spy one while shopping and remember the joy they brought to our family long ago.  Several years ago, I found a beautiful mirrored Advent calendar at Target.  It has large openings covered with miniature doors for each day.  Prior to having our own children, George and I filled it for each other.  Sometimes we put little chocolates inside, and sometimes little notes to each other.  This year, we filled it with M & M’s for the quads to enjoy.  As they get older and better understand the concept, we will probably add small gifts or notes to the boxes.

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This year was our first year to adopt an Elf on the Shelf.  While the tradition has become extremely popular in the last few years, George wanted to partake in that tradition long before we even had thoughts of children on our minds.  We met our first Elf on the Shelf at my cousin’s house.  We noticed him dangling from their chandelier as we enjoyed dinner together.   She explained that it was their family’s Elf sent from Santa to monitor the children’s behavior and report back to Santa.  Every Christmas thereafter, George would mention adopting an Elf on the Shelf, and this year was prime time for it.  Since adopting our Elf, we read the story to the quads and Rylin named him, “Bop”, which they all say.  Although the Elf on the Shelf isn’t supposed to report to your home until December 1st, ours arrived a little early and has been keeping the quads in check.  Every morning we ask them were Bop is and they set out looking.  He stays in plain sight so it doesn’t usually take them long to spot him and begin pointing ferociously at him.

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Last year, when Santa stopped by for a surprise visit, I HAD to make sure the babies were dressed in cozy Christmas pajamas so a new family tradition was born.   I found these a little early, and have been dressing the quads in them a few weeks already to get as much wear as possible.  If they don’t outgrow them, they may wear them until Valentine’s Day!

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Sydney is the best snuggle bunny!  I sometimes wish I could snuggle her all day long.

Sydney is the best snuggle bunny! I sometimes wish I could snuggle her all day long.

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Perhaps the most important Christmas tradition of all is the nativity scene.  After all, it is the point of Christmas in the first place.  Our nativity is the same Fontanini one my family used as a child.  My mother passed it down to me when I went off to college and lived in my first apartment.  There is actually a really great story behind this nativity, but that’s a whole new post!

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What traditions does your family hold close to it’s heart?

Hugs,

Amber