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EAST COAST MOMMY: Embrace the magic of the holidays

There are plenty of ways to get creative with Elf on the Shelf. - Gina Bell
There are plenty of ways to get creative with Elf on the Shelf. - Gina Bell

The holiday season can be busy and stressful, but it is also the most wonderful time of the year. There is something so magical about Christmas, especially for children. As a mom, I feel one of my most important roles in December is to create wonderful holiday memories for my family and today I am sharing some of my favourite ways to embrace the magic of Christmas.

One of our favourite family traditions involves our Elf on the Shelf. I know not all parents love the little red imp, but in our home he is a major source of Christmas joy. Most days, Elfie just moves around the house, but occasionally, he plays games with my kids and brings them treats or trinkets.

My boys still talk about how our Elf on the Shelf brought magic elf seeds (that looked like Christmas tree-shaped cookie decorations). We planted them in sugar, and the next morning, the seeds had grown into cookies on sticks. I had three pretty excited boys when they first saw the cookie pops! This year, our Elf on the Shelf brought a new kind of magic elf seeds. This time, instead of little trees, he brought little candy canes. When we planted them, they grew into a candy cane garden. Fun, right?

Spending time together as a family is also magical. Finding something to bake or craft together is a wonderful way to bond and make memories. My blog,, is full of easy and inexpensive ideas, but one of our favourite things to bake together at Christmas are our reindeer cookies. We bake regular peanut butter cookies, but before they cool, we insert a red Smartie nose, candy eyes and pretzel antlers. They are fun to make, look adorable and taste delicious.

Another fun family activity is to drive around and look at Christmas lights. In our house, we go on an annual Polar Express adventure. The children head to bed like they normally do, but when they get to their rooms, they find tickets to the Polar Express on their pillows. I play the sound of a train whistle and we head to the van with hot chocolate, popcorn and cookies. Then we spend the evening driving around, listening to carols, chatting and looking at Christmas lights.

Spreading kindness and sharing the holiday spirit with others is another way to feel the joy of the season. Baking for neighbours and friends and giving to charity are great ways to give back. For the past eight years, my boys have been hosting a holiday fundraiser and giving the profits to charity. It is a tradition that means a lot to our family and I am always proud of how hard my boys work to embrace the real meaning of Christmas.

Finally, don’t forget about Santa and his flying reindeer. It really doesn’t get more magical than writing a letter to Santa and leaving him cookies on Christmas Eve. And remember to sprinkle some magic reindeer food on the lawn so that the reindeer can find your home. My boys mix Cheerios, oats and magic dust (red-coloured sugar) and sprinkle it on our lawn every year — and the reindeer always find us.

This time of year, magic is all around. If you look for it and you don’t get too caught up in the hustle and bustle, you will be able to find tons of holiday magic and share it with family and friends. Enjoy!

Gina Bell is a writer, blogger and busy mom of three small boys.She has contributed to several blogs and major publications, including Disney’s Family Fun Magazine, Canadian Living and CBC Kids. Her blog,, is full of fantastic ideas for easy and inexpensive family fun.

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