The holiday season is officially over, so let’s take a look back at all of the festive feasts and holiday baking we enjoyed, starting with Thanksgiving. I think the turkey turned out especially well this time around!
We had our “pick out dinner” on Christmas Day:
And our “fancy” Christmas dinner two days later. I never want to prepare a beef tenderloin any other way!
On New Year’s Eve, we had our traditional hot chocolate bar, but we made it fancy, with the addition of homemade hot chocolate bombs!
And on New Year’s Day, we had our traditional pork tenderloin, with an untraditional (for us) side of twice-baked potatoes:
On to the baking. Of course there were pies (seven!) for Thanksgiving:
We made five types of German Christmas cookies in Christmas School:
And another ten types of Christmas cookies besides!
There were eight different cakes throughout the season:
And some other various treats including Christmas cracker candy and lussekattes:
This was a fun and delicious season, but now the kitchen is closed!
Last night, we went to see the Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo before they close for the season. While I was a little disappointed that the “Meet Me in St. Louis” display (one of the best ones, in my opinion), was inaccessible due to construction, the rest of the displays were quite fun and festive!
Even though we’re only at the halfway point in the 12 Days of Christmas, I imagine this is the last big Christmas thing we’ll do this season…I wish it all didn’t end so quickly after Christmas Day is over!
Our celebration started, as always, on Christmas Eve, with Christmas Crunch for breakfast:
I played Animal Crossing early, because I knew that might be my only opportunity to deliver gifts for Jingle and say “Merry Christmas” to Roald:
The Fab Five completed this year’s Advent project, the Lego Disney Castle.
Speaking of Disney, Ladybug and I made red velvet Mickey Mouse waffles for lunch:
And then we went to church. It was quite early for us…3 p.m. It was definitely different to go to Christmas Eve church when it was still so bright out!
It was even bright when we stopped to see the city of St. Louis Christmas tree after church…but that made it easier to see the snow on the ground. We finally had a white (and very cold) Christmas!
It was also still pretty bright when we drove through the Way of Lights, but after all these years, it was kind of cool to see it in a different way:
I took lots of pictures when we got home:
And we enjoyed some cake:
We played a couple games of Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries. I suffered one of my greatest losses of all-time in the first game!
The theme for this year’s Christmas jammies was (surprise, surprise) Mickey Mouse:
I still always set up the Little People nativity scene before bed:
We almost kind of got to sleep in on Christmas Day…but just barely. Stockings were the first order of business:
And then our traditional Christmas morning coffee cake:
And then we headed back to church for the Christmas Day service.
We found time for a nice family photo:
After we got home, we opened presents.
And then I got to work putting together the “pick out dinner.”
I was once again very pleased with how my charcuterie board turned out!
It’s such a fun and delicious meal!
We had another little reminder of our vacation when I burned the Christmas candle we picked up at Disney Springs:
Yesterday was a pretty quiet day because we waited for today for our fancy Christmas dinner. The table looked especially nice with our (kind of) new glasses added to the place settings:
For dinner, I made a beef tenderloin, which turned out beautifully. We also had sautéed mushrooms, hasselback potatoes, roast Brussel sprouts with a balsamic glaze and dried cranberries, our favorite cherry Jell-O, and rolls:
It was delicious and elegant!
For dessert I made a pair of yule logs. I tried a new recipe for a red and green variety, which was delicious, but not as pretty as I wanted it to be. I also made a favorite gingerbread variety, which was delicious and pretty!
The whole season of Advent went by quite quickly, and so has the beginning of the Christmas season, but I’m looking forward to making the most of the days ahead!
If there’s any day that rivals Pie Day for making our house smell like a bakery, it’s my annual Christmas Baking Day.
Yes, I’ve already been doing some Christmas baking…German cookies for Christmas School, lussekattes for Santa Lucia Day, other various treats here and there. And we’re saving the gingerbread and sugar cookie baking for the week after Christmas. But there’s always one day prior to Christmas each year when I bake all my “fancy” Christmas cookies, and that’s what I did on Saturday…28 dozen of them!
I baked our old favorites (raspberry-almond thumbprints and chocolate peppermint). I made some newer favorites that will probably be old favorites in a few years (chocolate crinkles and linzer). I tried a few new recipes that looked interesting to me (meringue kisses and peppermint meltaways). And I tried to recreate an old, store-bought favorite with decent success (a duplicate of Keebler’s anise-flavored Jingles).
Yes, there was a point when I couldn’t find our kitchen under all the cookies. And yes, it feels like we’re living in a bakery. But I love organizing pretty plates of Christmas cookies, and sampling some along the way!
This year’s Christmas School theme was Christmas in Germany (and Austria). Everything came together in an amazing fashion, so that we had lots of experiences, read lots of stories, did lots of baking, and made some cool crafts. But first, an ornament craft to remind us of our summer vacation…memory spheres:
Back to Christmas in Germany. We got to meet the Christkind (an angel who is often the present-bearer in Germany) when we were at Christmas Traditions in St. Charles, MO:
We made five different German Christmas cookies that we had never made before…Lebkuchen (German-style gingerbread), Vanillekipferl (vanilla crescents), Pfeffernusse (spice cookies), Kardamom Plaetzchen (chocolate dipped cardamon cookies), and Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars). We got to try some new baking techniques, which was a lot of fun, and the house has smelled amazing!
We also made five crafts inspired by Germany or of German origin…painted hearts inspired by Lebkuchenherzen (gingerbread hearts), a Weihnachtspyramide, ornaments inspired by the German flag and printed with words related to Advent, Fröbelstern (elaborately folded paper stars named for Friedrich Fröbel, the creator of the first kindergarten in Bad Blankenburg, Thuringia, Germany), and the German classic, Zwetschgenmännle (prune people).
Here’s a look at the Weihnachtspyramide in motion…I think it was our favorite craft!
We visited our town Christkindlmarket several times this month:
And we even got to attend a Weihnachtsgottesdienst (German Christmas service)!
It’s not often that Christmas School comes together this well, and provides us with so many fun opportunities…I really enjoyed it!