Every winter, I try and put together a Holiday To-Do List before days start passing at warp-speed. This year’s Holiday To-Do List? Done. Here’s a glimpse at our favorite things to do between Thanksgiving & the New Year. What’s on your list?

Travel & See Spectacular Holiday Decor

Traveling is always a good idea. Do it early in the season (before things get nuts) and catch some spectacular holiday decor at resorts, on cruises, and in retail stores in major cities. It will instantly put you in the holiday spirit and you can grab some ideas for your own decor. This year, we took a family cruise over Thanksgiving and got to enjoy this amazing Christmas tree on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas.

The kids were too fascinated with this Royal Caribbean Christmas Tree to pose for the pic. Who could blame them?

The kids were too fascinated with this Royal Caribbean Christmas Tree to pose for the pic. Who could blame them?

Build A Gingerbread House with Grandma

Because she’s probably done it with you when you were little (and will love it again) and has major experience, build a gingerbread house with Grandma. A definite for the holiday to-do list. Her stellar advice? Buy the Wilson House Kit at Michaels or Joann Fabric and build the structure the day before. It has to set for 3-4 hours before kids can decorate.

Let's Build A Gingery, Gingerbread House.

Let’s Build A Gingery, Gingerbread House…with Grandma.

Indulge in Lots of Seasonal Food

Even in Miami we’re wearing more clothes this time of year. So, indulge in lots of seasonal food…and find someone to chow down with so the guilt is somewhat reduced. For me, these foods include cinnamon rolls from Knausberry Farm, my grandmother’s sausage balls, and my Father-in-law’s antipasto. It’s the last hurrah until January, people, so enjoy.

Cinnamon Rolls from Knausberry Farm...seven dozen to be exact. My favorite passenger this time of year.

Cinnamon Rolls from Knausberry Farm…seven dozen to be exact. My favorite passenger this time of year.

Get a Kids’ Christmas Tree

I love having a kids’ Christmas tree the boys can decorate themselves with their favorite ornaments like Woody and Yoda. It’s also perfect for presents with snowman ribbon, a MUST have for my 5 year old. This 3 foot tree was found at Target in early December, pre-lit and on sale for $17.

Get a Kids' Tree they can decorate themselves.

Get a Kids’ Tree they can decorate themselves.

Visit Santa for a Picture

My boys get excited to put on something festive and visit Santa for a picture. Whether you get a “framer” or not, there’s always a story to tell…like when your Miami son asks for skis and a sled for Christmas. Colorado, anyone?

Get a Holiday Mani

Nail art is not always my fave. But at this time of year, you can get away with candy cane stripes, gold tips, and snowflakes galore. My 12 year old niece was the perfect salon partner for a holiday mani.

Gold Tips and Snowflakes, galore.

Gold Tips and Snowflakes Galore.

Donate to a Toy Drive

Take a break from all that fun holiday stuff for yourself and donate to a toy drive or two. Have your kids shop for the toys and hopefully they’ll learn what the season is really about (GIVING) and you just may get a few (or a hundred) last minute gift ideas for them too.

Make Cookies for Santa

I’m no Betty Crocker, so these Pilsbury Cookie Dough Sheets were calling my name when we decided to make cookies for Santa. Another time saving tip? Skip frosting and just add sprinkles while cookie cutters are still in the dough. Who really needs the extra sugar and if you press them into the dough a little, the sprinkles will bake right in.

Use Pilsbury Cookie Dough Sheets and skip the frosting on these Santa Cookies.

Use Pilsbury Cookie Dough Sheets and skip the frosting on these Santa Cookies.

Do Something Just for the Kids

Even if you will hate it and don’t even want to admit that you’ve done it, like go to this Christmas Carnival by the highway in Miami, do something just for the kids. You’ll survive and will get major rockstar mom points in the meantime.

Do something just for the kids...like take them to this crazy Christmas Carnival in Miami that they've been asking about.

Do something just for the kids…like take them to this crazy Christmas Carnival in Miami that they’ve been asking about.

Book One Adult Trip for the New Year

Maxed out yet on family time? Take a few minutes to book one adult trip for the New Year now. This should be a priority on the holiday to-do list. You’ll need a clear vision of grown-up time when things get nutso. Besides, once all the craziness subsides, you’ll have something to look forward to. Our plan? A weekend in New Orleans for our friend’s birthday. Beignets and Bourbon Street, here we come.

Find the Craziest Christmas Lights House Display with Grandparents

Grandparents will get a kick out of their grandkids squealing in delight at the sight of crazy Christmas lights. And yes, seeing your kids go bananas is worth risking them asking for more decorations on your own lawn (No, Rocco, we can’t have the inflatable Santa that hangs off the roof…because…it’s sold out).

Kids will go bananas over crazy Christmas lights.

Kids will go bananas over crazy Christmas lights. I think the owners may have too.

Watch Polar Express

Watch Polar Express again and again and again…because when you have kids, it’s the best movie ever and you don’t notice the awkward animated faces like you did before they were born. Then try not to sing “Hot, Hot, Hot…Hot Chocolate!” everyday until next year. Good Luck.

Surprise the Kids with a Holiday Outing at Bedtime

Once during the holiday season, we will surprise the kids with a holiday outing at bedtime. This year, their surprise was heading to Zoo Lights at Zoo Miami. By the screams of joy, you’d think we’d won the lottery. Beyond adorable and definitely worth having cranksters the next day after a late night out.

Surprise Kids with a holiday outing at bedtime...like Zoo Lights in Miami.

Surprise Kids with a holiday outing at bedtime…like Zoo Lights in Miami.

Plan Brunch on New Year’s Day with Friends

Let’s face it. With little kids, a late night out is almost torture since those stinkers will be up at dawn. Skip the all night parties and watch the ball drop in PJs with bubbly (and awesome take-out) on the couch & plan brunch on New Year’s Day with friends. My suggestion? Hire a sitter and make it adults only. After all, we all need a break sometime.



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