Low-sugar mint steamers are the perfect alternative to hot cocoa when your kids want something warm and festive to drink!
Hey there, party people! Ok, so I know what you’re thinking: holy ca-freakin’-nnoli, Stephanie. A Christmas post? It’s not even Thanksgiving – in fact, there’s still a decomposing pumpkin on my porch from Halloween! <– No? Just me then. Ok, moving on.
Seriously though, I have a question for you. Have you ever been in the middle of the holiday season and thought to yourself, “It just doesn’t really feel like the holidays this year” or “The holidays just fly by anymore”? That was me, for so long. Every single year felt more rushed and every single year I was feeling a bit less of that Christmas spirit that had filled me with such joy as a kid. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.
But, I have a great solution: the ol’ Advent calendar. No, not the chocolate filled kind (though I used to get those as a kid, and let me tell ya, they made me pretty darn happy!), but the kind where you do something Christmas-y every day through Christmas Eve. We started this tradition with our kids (though the grown-ups in the house like it just as much!) a couple of years ago and I’m being completely sincere when I tell you that it absolutely changed the holidays for us.
Doing an Advent calendar made me realize that especially during the holidays, I was not spending the quality time with my kids that I really wanted to… and because of this, the fun and the wonder of the season was getting lost in the shuffle of life. Scheduling that quality time with your kids every day for a month can really change your perspective in the most welcome and wonderful way. You won’t regret it.
(It’s also way more fun than moving that damn elf every single night. I’m just saying.)
Anyway, before we get to the Advent calendar stuff, let me introduce you to my Mint Steamer! Isn’t she cute and festive as a little red glittery button? I love adding a fun drink or treat to some of our Advent calendar activities, like watching Christmas movies or decorating the tree. It just makes everything more special. I also love that my kids feel like this drink is a treat, but I know that it has a fraction of the sugar of hot cocoa, which is a total mom score. 😉
Another li’l added bonus? My kids get such a kick out of using the milk frother (not absolutely necessary, but I highly recommend it – that foam is good times, my friends).
Let me quickly lay out how I plan our calendar*. The first thing I do is I print out a calendar. You probably have one on your computer that you could print out or you could just use google calendar on your phone. It’s easier for me to write it out. The next thing I do is mark any days that I know we won’t have a lot of time (like when you know your kid has basketball practice or when you have plans with a friend), that way I can make sure that I plan something that won’t take a lot of time on those days.
Next, I do an internet search for any local holiday activities, decide which ones we want to do/spend the money on, and add those to the calendar. In the past, we’ve usually done 3 or 4 local activities and I can’t wait to see what our little Alaskan town has in store for us this year 🙂
Then all that’s left to do is to fill in the other days with things my kids (and me and the hubs) will love, put them on pieces of paper** and put them in our wooden calendar. Here are some of our favorites:
- Day 1 – write a letter to Santa (my kids like to decorate it too)
- Christmas dance party – adding balloons to throw and kick around is always a fun idea
- Christmas origami – Here are a couple of sites to use for ideas:
- Cookie baking
- Christmas gift shopping
- Christmas movies -you can get a lot of mileage out of this idea, because you’re probably going to want to watch more than one Christmas movie during the holidays. I always add this (with specific movies) to at least 3 days of our calendar.
- adding in Christmas-y treats is fun too, ya know, like my Mint Steamers, hot cocoa or this Christmas popcorn.
- Make puffy paint window clings – word to the wise, there are actually two different sides to wax paper, if you make these, make sure you use the shinier, waxy side.
- Take Christmas pictures – we send out photo Christmas cards every year and taking our holiday photos is always really fun 🙂
- Christmas pancakes for dinner – We just make a few different sizes of regular round pancakes and have plenty of fruit, sprinkles and whipped cream for the kids to turn their pancakes into Santa, a reindeer or a snowman!
- Christmas craft – these can double as family gifts! Here are some great ideas using popsicle sticks.
- Make a gingerbread house
- Drive around to see the Christmas decorations/lights
- We always decorate towards the end of November, but if you don’t, Christmas decorating would be a great thing to add to the list!
- Have each child choose a toy to donate, this is such a great way to talk about the importance of giving, helping others and the Christmas spirit.
- Print out these Christmas photo booth props, then take lots of silly pictures
- A special holiday book reading with Mint Steamers or other festive treat. The girls love to picnic on a blanket in front of me, with their warm Mint Steamers while listening to a favorite Christmas Story. Some of our favorites are:
- The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
- The Crippled Lamb
- ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas
- The Polar Express
- Make paper snowflakes. Can’t remember how? Check out Hoosier Homemade for this and lots of other easy crafts!
- Visit Santa
- Sing Christmas carols – check out some karaoke apps for this! I use Yokee for Android.
- Get a video message from Santa.
- Visit reindeercam.com to see live video of Santa’s reindeer and even see Santa feeding them twice a day! (You can also add you child’s name to the nice list and show it to them 🙂 )
- Holiday Sink or Float Science Experiment (we’re definitely doing this one this year!)
- Christmas Bingo
- Christmas treasure hunt – here are some ideas:
- Day 24 -make reindeer food (just oats, colored sugar and sprinkles!) or
- Day 24 – give the kiddos a Christmas eve gift of Jammies, a christmas book, a snack and some reindeer food for sprinkling on the lawn.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned, right?! Be prepared with a few pieces of Christmas-y candy or even some Christmas themed hotwheels cars that you can put in the Advent calendar if you realize that you’re not going to have time that day to do what you originally intended. – I’ll also sometimes move days around when necessary.
*I got my Advent calendar at Lowe’s – but here are some great ideas that I found for DIYing it.
** You can just write them on pieces of paper, but I always go to Avery.com and use their design tool to make them. It’s super easy and quick. I just use the label template #5159, add a cute Christmas-y character (Avery has a ton on their site to choose from) and then type in each activity on a different label. Then I just print them out on regular paper and cut them out.
I hope you guys LOVE these mint steamers and I really hope you add an Advent calendar to your Holiday traditions.
If you make this recipe be sure to snap a pic and tag me @thefoodieandthefix or use #thefoodieandthefix on Instagram so I can check it out! It makes me ridiculously happy to see what you guys are making 🙂