Christmas Eve

Holiday Traditions, Part 2

Not sure about your family but in mine, we always take pictures in front of the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Well, not everyone…more like me and my two cousins. The combination of family members in front of the tree changes from year to year but our cousin picture is always a constant.

Same cousins, same living room, different tree

We also have a fancy Christmas Eve dinner with everyone sitting around one table (remember, small family). In the past few years the tradition includes family members helping with various dishes like Glühwein (clearly our addition), salad, veggie, potato, etc. After dinner, we snack on an assortment of cookies, pop the holiday crackers/poppers, and play a family game. Before everyone heads their separate ways for the evening, we read “The Night Before Christmas”. Everyone reads one page as we pass the book around the table. Some years we even use silly voices.

In the top picture, notice the tree (also pictured previously) and the set table in the background.


It’s Christmas time in Europe which means the Christmas Markets are open for business and plentiful! And let me tell you, the Europeans LOVE their Christmas markets! Please enjoy this post of pictures (mostly Essen & Vienna).

Vienna, Austria (Wiener Weihnachtsmarkt)
Vienna has numerous Weihnachtsmarkts. This one at the Rathaus (city hall) was large and packed!)
Essen’s Weihnactsmarkt is canopied in lights. Gorgeous!
Lights, booths full of handcrafted goods, gingerbread hearts, and yummy food (of course this American was craving nachos…don’t worry, I had already enjoyed a Currywurst).
Don’t forget the Glühwein and Feuerzangenbowle (& Kinderpunsch)!
A few more from Vienna. Weihnachtsmarkt during the day & Carson’s first experience with cake.
Vienna is known for their cafes. This one did not disappoint.

Mom’s Wish List

The trouble with being an adult is you can buy what you need and want when you need and want it. This year, when I was asked what I wanted for Christmas, I was stumped. What do I want? What do I need? I’m currently 21 weeks pregnant with baby #2 which makes shopping for me harder. Don’t get me wrong, getting stuff for the baby is super fun but my usual wish list items might not make the list this year…as they don’t/won’t fit me in my current state.

Top left to bottom right: Leopard cardigan, Scuffette II Slippers, Lululemon leggings, Bailey Button II Boot, H&M maternity leggings
  • Lululemon Leggings: This is a standard ask from me each year. I love the fit and feel of the leggings and wear them almost daily. Yeah, yeah, I know they are a little pricey but they don’t wear out and they are super flattering. I’m still asking for leggings this year but won’t be able to wear them until after the baby is born.
  • H&M MAMA Sports Tights: Maternity leggings are what I need this year! And from what I remember, I should be able to wear them for a month or two after baby is born. Part of my daily routine is to go to the gym, so maternity leggings are essential.
  • Uggs Bailey Button II Boot: It has been a long, long while since I have upgraded my Uggs. I love the easy of putting them on and the warmth they bring to my feet. Fingers crossed these make it under the tree. They are the perfect boot for this pregnant mama to travel in.
  • Uggs Scuffette II Slipper: I really must be jonesing for Uggs, warm feet or both. I’m on the search for a warm pair of slippers with a rubber sole so I can safely travel up and down the 47 steps to the cellar to do laundry…and to comfortably wear around the house.
  • Leopard Cardigan: I know, I know, leopard is all the rage right now. You bet and I want in! I’ve been eyeing various leopard print cardigans.
Top left to bottom right: Louis Vuitton Neverfull, Goodr sunglasses, Sleepy Panda Kaitlyn Diaper Backpack, 2020 Planner, Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Lite Circle Cardigan
  • Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM: Yep, this one is a pipe dream…for a Christmas wishlist item, but one I would love to have nonetheless. I’ve had my eye on this bag for quite awhile and feel like I’m finally old & wise enough to take care of it. I’m sharing this in case Santa, or someone with a little extra cash to spare, is in the giving mood.
  • Sleepy Panda Kaitlyn Diaper Bag Backpack: What does this soon-to-be mother of 2 want, an upgraded diaper bag. Wow, never thought I would say that. I love my current backpack style diaper bag but am wanting more space with the arrival of baby 2. This style is currently sold out and in the pre-order stage, scheduled to be delivered at the end of December.
  • Goodr Sunglasses: I love my Wayfarers but have stopped wearing them because of slippage (I have a small face/head). A friend recommended Goodr sunglasses and absolutely loves hers. They are no slip, no bounce, and all polarized. A special coating around the light-weight frames prevents them from slipping and bouncing when you are working out or doing daily activities. They also protect you from UVA & UVB rays.
  • 2020 Planner: Surprisingly enough, as a stay-at-home mom I am using organizational planners more often then I ever did while in the workforce. Anthropologie has a ton of adorable 2020 planners that fit my needs (travel schedules, doctors appointments, meal planning, errands, etc).
  • Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Lite Circle Cardigan: I have heard nothing but marvelous reviews of the Barefoot Dreams cardigans. Known for their lightweight and comfortable threads, this machine washable sweater is perfect for lounging around the house or running errands.
  • Spice House Spices: Yes, Germany has spices but they just aren’t quite the same as what I’m used to in the US. It could just be my imagination but I really miss the flavor combinations like BBQ, and anything spicy that the US has to offer. I also miss Chicago. The Spice House originated in Chicago and has some Chicago specific flavors which make it perfect for this homesick mama.
Spice House Spices!

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Stocking Stuffers

Family traditions, opening stocking in the library

Not sure about everyone else but stocking stuffers are big deal in our family. We are a small family but purchasing gifts for everyone is quite taxing on the wallet. Instead, we get each other stocking stuffers (aka stuff for the stockings). When this tradition started we were supposed to spend no more than $5/person. I tend to spend a little bit more…but no more than $15. Here are some of my stocking stuffer recommendations. (If you are in my family, you may be getting some of these in your stocking ;).

For the Ladies:

Top left to bottom right: Hidden Valley Ranch packets, handmade lavender soap, smartwatch band, jewelry cleaner, lip scrub/balm, earrings
  • Hidden Valley Ranch packets: There are many times in Germany that I miss the comforts of home. When back in the states I like to stock up on these packets so I can make some of my favorite recipes or a good old American ranch for veggies or my salads. (No joke, this is on my stocking stuffer wishlist).
  • Handmade lavender soap: This year, some of my family members will receive lovely handmade lavender soap that was picked up in the Provence region of France.
  • Smartwatch wristband: If you have a smartwatch wearer in your family like I do, you could surprise them with a decorative/new wristband. While I love my FitBit, I don’t always like it to look like a FitBit.
  • Jewelry cleaner: A friend recommended this jewelry cleaner to me and I took the bait and bought it. It is the most simple, easiest to use, best results type of jewelry cleaner. I highly recommend this product for any jewelry wearer in your family.
  • LUSH products: Since moving to Germany, I have fallen in love with anything LUSH! While I will always recommend their bath bombs (should you be a bath taker), my stocking stuffer picks are the lip scrub, lip balm, and calming lotion. The lip scrub and lip balm are essentials in my house as I use them daily. I use the sleep lotion in the evening when I’m ready for bed. These are perfect for anyone who likes to pamper themselves.
  • Earrings: I found these gems on the Iron Fox Clothing Instagram account today! How does Kristi always seem to know exactly what I am looking for? These are perfect for the fashionista in your life and set at reasonable prices.

For the Gentlemen:

Top left to bottom right: AirPod protective case, fun socks, beard oil, gourmet mustard
  • AirPod case: Is your loved one getting AirPods this Christmas? If they are, or already have them, this is a great protective sleeve for the AirPod charging case. It also helps the owner of the AirPods identify their case if you happen to be a multiple AirPod household. Let’s just say there will be one in my stocking, my mother in law’s stocking, and Jeff’s stocking (Shhh).
  • Fun socks: Not sure when but in more recent years, Jeff has traded in his boring black and white socks for more colorful & fun ones. He has and routinely wears his avocado socks and will be getting some colorful hamburger socks in his stocking this year.
  • Beard oil: Does the man in your life have a beard? If yes, he NEEDS this beard oil! As regulations at Jeff’s job are different in Germany then in the states, he is able to grow a full beard. He is extremely proud of this beard and regularly gets beard trims whenever he gets a haircut. He uses beard oil everyday!
  • Gourmet mustard: These are perfect for the foodie or gourmet cook in your life. Enjoy the different flavor combinations these mustards provide. Again, we picked these up in the Provence region in France at a vineyard but you can find them in any specialty food store…or Amazon.

For the Toddlers:

Top left to bottom right: Indestructible holiday book, dimple, Little People Princess Parade, silly glasses, Color Wonder coloring book
  • Indestructible holiday book: If you have an infant or toddler and haven’t ordered these yet, what are you waiting for? These chew proof, rip proof, nontoxic, 100% washable books are lightweight and brightly colored to keep little one’s attention.
  • Dimple by Fat Brain Toys: We keep this staple in our diaper bag. Carson plays with it weekly, if not daily, whenever we are out of the house. Even at 20 months, she is still engaged while using it.
  • Little People Princess Parade: Carson loves Disney princesses and things that move. The Little People collection by Fisher Price combines BOTH! She also has a small collection of Little People by Fisher Price and loves playing with them. These will be an excellent addition to her collection.
  • Silly glasses: Who doesn’t love playing dress up? Your little one will love getting in the holiday spirit with these goofy holiday glasses.
  • Color Wonder coloring book: Carson is an avid colorer and would prefer to color with anything I don’t want her to (ie. markers, pens, Sharpies, etc). The Color Wonder markers by Crayola won’t mark on anything other than the Color Wonder coloring books. Carson will be receiving quite a few of these in her stocking this year!

This is not an ad. Many of these are stocking stuffers that I will be giving this year as well as items that are already in use in our household. Some of the items have been purchased outside of the USA. In those cases, I have done my best to find a similar product on Amazon. Good luck on your hunt for the perfect stocking stuffers for your loved ones!

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