Maybe it’s the colder weather. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m on maternity leave and feeling a bit isolated. Maybe I’ve finally finished my slow transition into an introvert. But, I find myself really, really enjoying celebrating the holiday season close to home. Just in case you’re feeling similarly, or just want to slow down your pace with some more low-key, easy ways to have some Christmas fun this month, I’m sharing some ways to do just that. Pajamas optional! Make some cookies! When we ask our 5-year-old what his favorite part of the holiday season is, he immediately answers “making gingerbread cookies with Mommy!” (followed by “and spending time with all my family members.”) And y’know what? When I look back to my childhood, baking and decorating cut-out cookies with my mom is the first thing that pops into my head. It’s such a simple task (well, in theory) that creates memories. And the cool thing is that no matter how you do it, your kids will love the experience. So, whether you use your grandmother’s intricate recipe or you buy some pre-made dough (or mix some up on your own in advance, then have your little one cut out and decorate them), it’ll still be special. Oh, and yummy! Let the kids stay up and watch a “special.” My husband and I have bought or downloaded TONS of holiday “specials” (ones we remember from childhood, generally). So, while we’ve watched the Grinch a dozen times already, there’s something so special about seeing it “live” on TV. Two words: homemade cocoa. If your kids only like the powdered stuff, go ahead and make that, but there’s something extra special about making your own - and it’s not much more difficult! I don’t measure, so it’s some glugs of whole milk (I think almond or coconut milk would work if there’s an intolerance in your family) into a pot and simmer on medium-low until steaming. Then, I whisk in several teaspoons of cocoa powder, sugar (or maple syrup for a more natural sweetener), and a touch of vanilla. You can experiment with different types of chocolate (I’m pretty sure melted chocolate chips or a high-quality chocolate bar would be incredible), adding spices like cinnamon or cayenne powder, or even some high-quality, consumable peppermint essential oil. Toss some marshmallows or homemade whipped cream on top and you’re good! Make a super-simple craft. Our son is finally WAY more into crafting now that he’s in school, so he kind of does this independently. Whether it’s basic construction paper chains, decorating a cut-out tree with stickers and baubles, or something more complicated, it’s more about spending the time together. Oh, and be sure to join in on the fun yourself. It’s fun to step away from the chores and get your hands dirty in a fun way, and the kids tend to love seeing what their parents come up with (beautiful or...not). Read holiday books. Whether you have to hit up the library or have your own plentiful supply of Christmas stories, make it a nightly event! Many of the stories Write Santa a letter or draw him a picture. We already wrote our letter to Santa (because goodness knows the closer we get to the “big day”, more items will be added to the wishlist...and Santa’s not a fan of last-minute additions), but a letter for any of those questions your little ones may have or a nice little “thank you” note to leave with his milk and cookies is a fun way to focus all of that excited energy at this time of year. Check out the lights! This one entails leaving the house but a) you can do it in your PJs with very little fuss and b) there’s nothing like the first year your child is old enough to actually notice a big display and you hear a huge “WOW!!!” from the backseat. Even with a newborn in tow, we’ll be packing up the car to do this soon! Make any activity a holiday activity. Whether we’re sitting at the dinner table or watching one of the kids’ favorite shows on PBS, there are ways to put a bit of extra cheer into the activity. We have the tree a-glowin’ pretty much every hour of the day, light our gas fireplace when we start to feel a chill, and light a Christmas candle (or diffuse some festive essential oils) every chance we get. Add cocoa (homemade or not) and some Christmas PJs to any game, movie, or playtime, and you’re golden. Oh, and I can’t emphasize enough: Pandora, Spotify or the good, old-fashioned radio can set the mood better than anything and will put everyone in the house in the Christmas spirit.