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  • Writer's pictureJena - The Grocery Gal

Christmas 2020 Recap: How We Celebrated, Where We Shopped, and How I Decorated...on to 2021!

I know, I know... It’s February, a little late for a Christmas post. Well you’re certainly not wrong, but in my defense... working in the grocery industry during the holidays is brutal and I just didn’t have it in me to keep up with Christmas posting. All that being said, we had such a wonderful Christmas season that I wanted to share. That way... this next Christmas you may have some new ideas for your own Christmas season. December seemed just about 6 months long... let’s get started shall we!?

Let’s talk about Christmas Decorations first shall we? As I’m sure you all have figured out by now, I usually decorate my front porch and kitchen when it comes to a holiday. Christmas is quite a bit different. Since moving into our home almost three years ago, I have added more Christmas decorations every year. Nearly every room in our home has some sort of Christmas finishing. This year, I added some wreaths on our front gates and a Christmas tree in the Master Bedroom. I love the magic of the season, but I wait until the first of December to get it all up. Christmas lights usually go on the house and our front yard tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, thanks to a very sweet boyfriend of mine for the third season running.

Once lights are up, I focus my efforts on the remaining outdoor decorations. Wreaths for my two main visible windows, large wreath above the garage, mailbox, gate wreaths, front porch and window boxes. My wreaths are from Hobby Lobby and I add holiday picks and ribbon every few years to freshen them up and this year I added lights to all the exterior wreaths thanks to some battery powered timer lights from Home Depot. My window boxes are filled with seasonal faux greenery and holiday picks. My trick is to bury some floral foam in the window boxes, cover with potting soil and then arrange my picks to my liking. This keep my floral picks from flying away. Pro tip: Spray all your exterior greenery with a clear coat protectant.

My front porch decorations have accumulated over the years thanks to some thrift finds at places like TJMaxx, Hobby Lobby and Target. My metal reindeer is a transplant from my parents‘ home and has been in the family since I was a little girl. This year, I added the Jingle Bells wreath and small Christmas trees from the Target dollar bins. As many of my other decor, I added handmade bows to the Jingle Bells wreath, Santa artwork and added ribbons to my existing lanterns. One trick I love is to add the tiny twinkle lights inside all the lanterns for a nice Christmas light effect. All of the twinkle lights I use are on timed battery packs. Layering front porch mats also gives a nice cozy effect. I always use our front porch for our Christmas card background so I like for the front porch to look very full and inviting.

As with most Christmas decorations, my main focal point is our Christmas tree. I LOVE putting up our tree and look forward to it every year. I‘ll walk you through the order I put my tree together and some tips and tricks I have learned along the way thanks to some dear friends as well as other bloggers’ tips.... I’ll even tell you a new one I came across this year that I will be putting into motion this next Christmas season.

1. First and foremost... you HAVE to fluff your tree. I know, its the WORST part but... I find the more time I spend making sure my tree is fully fluffed, the better it turns out.

2. I add more lights to my pre-lit tree. Yes, I know its pre-lit... but thanks to some fellow Oklahoma Bloggers (The Spoiled Home) I can’t put up my tree without doing this anymore. I add 10 strands of white led lights to my tree. The key is to take a small handful and ”stuff“ it into the tree. Focus the lights toward the inside of your tree and not winding them directly around each branch. This makes your tree look so much more full. I’ll include pictures to show the difference below. AS MENTIONED ABOVE: I learned a new trick this year thanks to a sweet friend. This next season I will be adding some larger (outdoor sized C3 bulbs) to my Christmas tree instead of all small lights. This is supposed to really give your tree some killer dimension and depth and I can’t wait to try It myself.

3. My friend Shay taught me this trick nearly 8 years ago. When starting to decorate your tree... add glass bulbs to the very inside of your tree. Like the extra lights this adds fullness and dimension to your tree. You’ll be able to see twinkles of ornaments from all angles this way and your tree will look much more full. Per her recommendation I will wire two ornaments together as well as hang single ones inside the tree for variation.

4. Add base ribbon. I add my thickest ribbons first. I use a zig zag pattern when applying my ribbon. I also use floral wire to wire the ribbon in place. Always stuff toward the inside of the tree and then wire. You want the ribbon to appear like is is wound through the branches. If you have very flexible branches (I do not) you can cross the branches together to pinch the ribbon in place. Next I add some ribbons that cascade from the top of the tree towards the bottom, I also wire this ribbon in place.

5. Add the topper. I use a large ribbon bow for my topper, as well as floral picks. Once the topper is in place, its time to add all the floral picks for filler. I have several different kinds, ranging from berries to poinsettias and greenery.

6. Add the largest ornaments first and then add the rest in accordance from largest to smallest.

7. Add sentimental ornaments. I always add these ornaments last because I want them to show up the most. I find adding them last gives me the ability to see which spots in my tree give the best visibility. I love adding ornaments to our tree every year from trips we have taken. Meaningful Christmas ornaments are always one of my very favorite gifts to receive.

8. Last bit not least, add filler ribbon. This is ribbon that I have cut into small sections and I just pop this ribbons twirls into the holes I can see in my tree. Doing it this way allows for you to have more freedom with the way the ribbon flows and gives you the ability to fill any holes you may see in your decor.

9. Add a tree skirt and you‘re finally DONE!

On to some of our favorite traditions... enough with the decorating. One of my favorite gifts to give... can you guess?... is food! The adults in my family don’t exchange actual presents but I always love to make Christmas candy for my family and bring them a tin full every Christmas Eve. I make my Grandma’s Hot mix, candied pecans, peanut brittle and hard cinnamon rock candy. This year I had some company on candy making day (I always devote at least one full day to hard candy making) and it sure made it a lot more fun. I love to share time in the kitchen with my loved ones. I encourage you to do that, involve your kids or give them a food project while you’re working. This year, I gave Drew cookies to decorate while I finished up the last few batches of peanut brittle. Candy/food gifts are also fun to treat some special customers, neighbors and friends I have made over the years. Just a small way to let people know you’re thinking about them without having to break the bank on a very long list of Christmas presents.

This year, I also received a very special treat in learning how to make my Oma’s (German for Grandmother) German Christmas cookies. My Oma is one of the most special people in my life and I have inherited my love for cooking and entertaining from her. I can‘t tell you how much I cherished being able to spend that time with her and my little guy learning how to make cookies... and maybe making a few small messes and flour mustaches with them both! Fun fact, the cookie cutter pictured was my great grandmother’s. I found It very cool that there were technically four generations in that kitchen that morning... if you count her cookie cutter. encourage you to take the time to learn these things from your cherished family members if you have the chance. There is nothing more special than that kind of quality time.

Speaking of Christmas lists... I made some lists for finishing your Christmas shopping at some awesome local businesses. The lists feature several towns in our small corner of Southwest Oklahoma but many of these stores offer online shopping. I’ll be featuring a SHOP LOCAL post soon with a full list of stores, restaurants and more that I frequent and recommend but wanted to include these shopping lists for you to reference!

December also brought the end of our #Shoplocalwaurika campaign. The campaign ended at Waurika’s annual Christmas Parade on Main Street of Waurika Oklahoma. We held our Shop Local Waurika drawings at the end of the parade and gave away some amazing prizes. I’m going to be talking alot about Shop Local Waurika in March so I won’t dive into too many details but I wanted to share some snaps from the parade, our small businesses’ efforts and our town‘s support of them here. COVID-19 surely threw a wrench in some of our fun events we had planned to coincide with Shop Local Waurika this year, like our 2nd Annual Shop Local Waurika Cookie Crawl but we made the best of it by featuring a virtual cookie crawl complete with cookie recipes from several participating local businesses.

I also wanted to take the time to point out just how lovely Waurika Main Street looks during Christmas time. A group of very dedicated members of our community put in such a great effort putting up Christmas lights and decorations on Main Street, decorating their business windows and helping put together a beautiful Christmas Parade. Norman Rockwell would be very impressed. If you ever get the chance to go to a small town Christmas parade... trust me, you don’t want to miss it. It will get you straight in the Christmas spirit.

Waurika is blessed with some many unique people. It is so fun to see horse drawn carriages, classic antique vehicles and some of the neatest floats all in line with the parade’s chosen theme... all filled with your neighbors and friends. It truly is such a unique time and beautiful event to attend.

Make sure to pack some hand warmers and a thermos of hot cocoa with you for the evening though, or you may get just a little bit frosty like we did while watching the festivities and waiting for the drawings at the end of the parade. This year there were over 40 prizes between the Shop

Local Waurika prizes and the prizes donated by so many of our wonderful

businesses and members of our community. I can’t say enough about what a wonderful event this is in our community. I hope you take me on my word and travel out this next Christmas to see for yourself.

One of my favorite traditions is Christmas morning breakfast. I spend all year, like so many other moms, looking for quick and easy ways to make breakfast festive. This year, I saw a similar Santa Claus garnish on some pancakes and I knew I had to try a waffle version. Drew always looks so forward to this tradition and spends the weeks leading up to Christmas trying to guess what I have planned for Breakfast after Santa Claus comes. I have to say this Santa Claus has now become his favorite, dethroning the reigning Grinch Waffle champion. If you don’t do this with your kiddos, I highly recommend it. It only takes a few drops of food coloring and some Christmas themed sprinkles to make an ordinary Christmas breakfast into something truly special.

For the second year in a row I hosted a small dinner of Christmas Day for some dear friends and I have to admit... I can’t help but to want to go all out on decking out my table for the occasion (Yes... I’m sure many of you have noticed by now that my large kitchen island doubles as my dining room table but in a nice cozy space we make plenty do with this dual purposed space). My table setting is from Pottery Barn last year and they had a similar plaid set this year s well. I have found that shopping after season clearance sales are a great way to acquire some seasonal pieces that you can’t justify for use all year long. This is a great way to add some festive pieces to your collection and dress up your table this next Christmas. Many of the other pieces you see on the table are a hodgepodge of Mud Pie serving pieces, cake stand from TJMaxx, as well as the snowflake votive holders, the trees, napkins, and napkin rings are from Target and Tuesday Mornings over the past few years.

I also had a gorgeous charcuterie board from my friend Megan and her business Delectable EnDeavours. If you have seen my Tomahawk Steak recipe then you have seen her regular Date Night Box on that post. As per usual, it was delicious... her holiday themed trays and boxes are absolutely adorable in presentation. We also enjoyed her Christmas Eve Hot Cocoa box. Drew‘s seasonal drink of choice is hot cocoa, just pass him the hot cocoa bombs and he is good to go. Her box was a perfect pairing to his Elf’s (don‘t even get me going on how much that Elf and I don’t get along... haha) farewell Christmas PJ present.

Then very happily... we rang in the New Year just a week later with a small party for three... I can’t help but find reasons to celebrate no matter the size of the group... and even better than a last minute New Year’s Eve bash... waking up New Year’s Day to a fresh snow. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend the first day of 2021. Looking forward to sharing a brand new year with you all.... I can’t wait to see where we all are this next Christmas! I would love to hear how you spent your holidays in the comment below... or even some goals for this year that you made on January 1, 2021!

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