- Lots of planning
- Too many dollar bin and dollar $tore trips to count
- A willing and helpful spouse
And the critical ingredient...
This was the first year of our tradition and I couldn't be happier with how things turned out.
It started with our first ever North Pole Breakfast (inspired by the superbly talented Jessica over at Lil Pumpkin Grace- must be the name ;)
Although Ryan was more than a little confused when he woke up on December 1st, he quickly came to accept the sugary breakfast that awaited him. This also served as the introduction to the Elf on the Shelf. After a day of thinking about it, Ryan decided to name the Elf Jolly.
Overall, I consider this a very successful EOTS experience. The genuine wonder in Ryan's eyes and the excitement with which he greeted each morning made this an absolute pleasure for me and my husband. It's not far fetched to say that we enjoyed it just as much as Ryan did (and if you believe my dad, we probably enjoyed it more). I worried if Ryan being only 2.5 years old would be problematic-- maybe he wouldn't participate as much as I had hoped; or maybe he wouldn't "get" it. I was thrilled to be proven wrong. Ryan seemed to sincerely love every minute of it.
A few thoughts on our experience (I'm documenting this mostly for my own benefit :) )--
- Planning was critical. I'm a Type A personality who dives into projects 110%, so it was important to me that I followed through each and every day. What fun would it be if Ryan awakened to find Jolly in the same spot? I'm notorious for starting a project and never finishing it. In order to commit, I HAD to plan. I printed up a blank calendar and had every day planned out by mid-October. This helped with expenses too since I was able to snag most props for $1 or less. I bought a $5 tub at Target and kept it in the dining room so when I picked up a thing or two at the store, I could easily drop it in the bin and keep everything in one place.
- Ultimately I had a good mix of complex/detailed activities and then some easy peasy no-time-to-set-up plans. The list consisted of things I knew I wanted to do (lighted tree, the Elf Garden) and then I had a list of 2 or 3 really easy go-to activities (e.g. book club).
- I should have planned ahead and compiled the Elf Recovery Kit sooner. Although Ryan did really well with not touching Jolly (except for the one time), I had planned to get something like this put together before Dec 1st, but just forgot. Thank goodness he touched Jolly on a not-so-busy day :) Now that I have it printed, I saved everything to use again next year.
- From what I can tell, Ryan seemed to enjoy things that incorporated his toys or his favorite activities. As much as I loved
stealing ideas off Pinterest being creative, at his young age, Ryan didn't quite understand some of the more detailed activities. Next year, I want to make more of an effort to use things Ryan likes.
- While I had each activity planned well in advance, I didn't do well at planning where Jolly would hide. Sometimes that's what took the most time-- planning where to set things up. I knew what I wanted to do and I had all of the props, but finding a place to set it up was challenging. Note to self for next year: be more creative with where he hides :)
- The other time consuming aspect was that Jolly was often difficult to physically set up. He doesn't sit up well on his own so even though I knew I wanted him to play angry birds, getting him to sit down and stay in place was very time consuming (and frustrating). I had seen a post on how to make Jolly flexible (and therefore, more easy to handle), but I didn't think it was that necessary. I was wrong. Truth be told, I didn't want to sew. I'm pretty intimidated by sewing needles.
- I'm really glad I didn't start EOTS on the day after Thanksgiving. Most people I know start it then, but I knew my limitations and decided to wait until Dec 1st. I'm VERY glad I waited. The 23 days we did were plenty for us.
- For next year, I want to plan a few more service oriented activities for Jolly to do. Although I think Ryan kinda understood the Canned Good donation tree from this year, I think that next year he'll be the perfect age to start truly understanding the concept of giving to others. This has nothing to do with the comment a gal posted on guest blog I did for another website about how she doesn't think I incorporated enough service-to-others activities into my holiday planning. All I can say to that is she clearly doesn't know us :)
Today I packed everything up from this year, make a few handwritten notes as reminders/suggestions for next year and closed up shop for this season.
|Used a cardboard photo mailer to store the notes,|
Mini Express tickets, and Elf Recovery paperwork
Even though I'm glad it's over, it really was very fun.
As an adult, recapturing the magic that we felt as kids can be difficult. This is the first year in as many as I can remember when I actually got goosebumps thinking about how magical the Christmas season can be-- seeing the twinkle in Ryan's eyes each morning and experiencing his excitement brought that back.
Until next year...