I have been trying to get a post up for several days but WordPress has not been cooperating. My wonderful, tech-savvy husband was finally able to get it fixed for me!

This fall has been rough. My first trimester was mostly spent between the couch, the bed, and running for the bathroom. Thankfully, that has mostly subsided. In between that, we were out of town for all of November plus a few weeks each in September and October. We fell way behind in school work, the house fell apart, and life just happened.

It was time for a physical and emotional rest as well as catching up in December. But, of course, trying to resume a normal routine is not the easiest thing to do this month. I knew that I couldn’t continue at the same pace so I decided that we needed a much simpler holiday season this year.

In the past, we have tried to do it all. A different advent activity each day, decorating the whole house, a visit from Buddy the Elf every day, baking, gingerbread houses… I love doing it all especially with and for my children.

This year, we have kept it very simple. We ended buying a new, skinnier tree this year because our old one is too big for our living room with our new couch. Since we didn’t have to drag the old one out, I didn’t bring any of our five, large decoration storage boxes out either. Even our Elf on the Shelf stayed in the North Pole this year. The only thing we pulled out is our stockings.

Hannah has been studying pioneers and the Oregon Trail in school this month. We went back and studied how the pioneers celebrated Christmas and how they decorated. The pioneers made all of their decorations from what they had on hand and took some inspiration from nature. Everything on our tree this year (except the lights) was made by our girls in similar methods that the pioneers may have used.

Popcorn and Cranberry GarlandWe made popcorn and cranberry garlands.

Popsicle Stick OrnamentsThe girls painted craft sticks and added to glitter to make snowflakes. Though, it isn’t something the pioneers had, we used materials that we already had like the pioneers would have done.

Dried Orange Slice OrnamentsDried Orange Slices (These smell really good when baking!)

Kids Pioneer OrnamentsThe girls “embroidered” ornaments. This one is Olivia’s as it has fewer holes and was simpler for her to make.

Kids Craft- Punched Tin OrnamentI think this has been the favorite one to make so far. To make the Punched Tin Ornaments, I cut circles from disposable pie tins. The girls used giant push pins to punch designs in the circles. These will definitely be used again. They are so pretty on the tree!

Kids Craft- Punched Tin OrnamentHannah followed patterns to make snowflakes, stars, and trees.

Kids Craft- Punched Tin OrnamentOlivia just punched wherever she wanted.
(Tip: Two thick pieces of cardboard was still not enough to protect the table. Hannah left a nice design for us to enjoy while we eat dinner!)

We’ve also added bundles of cinnamon sticks to the tree as well as candy canes and the ornament Olivia made at school. We may also make Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments this week as well. Our new tree also came with pinecones already on it. We may not keep them in the future, but they work perfectly with the pioneer theme this year. Though the tree will never grace the pages of a magazine or be pinned a hundred times on Pinterest, I think it is my favorite tree yet!

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Though I really expected some protest from the girls about our simpler season, I think they have actually enjoyed it more than they have in the past. They both love to be crafty and have been so excited each day when we make a new ornament for the tree. Neither has mentioned that our Elf on the Shelf is missing. And we still made gingerbread houses, they are just made of craft foam and stickers this year thanks to a kit from Hobby Lobby. We are spending more quality time together as a family and that is really what we all need anyways regardless of the season.