25 Books of Christmas Tradition

25 Books of Christmas!

This is our third year doing the 25 Books of Christmas and I get a lot of questions about it so I wanted to write up how we do it and share some ideas for where to buy the books and how to display them!

What it is:  Like most crafty mom ideas, this one came from Pinterest.  The general idea is this- wrap up 25 books, let your kid open one every night leading up to Christmas (so open first book on November 30th, last book on Christmas Eve).  We always read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” on the 24th but otherwise the books are in no particular order.

Where to buy the books:  Most of my books are from the local consignment sales.  Kansas City Moms, I’ve had the best luck finding holiday books at the Just Between Friends Overland Park sale.  They are in a bin marked “Christmas books.” Go to the presale for the best selection. You’ll find them at the fall sale but sometimes I see them in the spring sale too.  Other places to find books: Half Price Books, Amazon (check out the used option, you can find titles for super cheap there), and Marshalls/TJ Maxx also has a great selection of holiday books at a discounted rate.

What books to get:  This is totally up to you.  I do NOT buy a new set of 25 books a year.  Props to you if you are bout that life but I am not, lol.  I usually add one or two new books a year and retire some of the books that Gretchen has outgrown (board books, lift the flap, etc).  Our 25 books are all Christmas or winter themed.  I know some that don’t go for a theme but just 25 random books.  I keep with the theme and after the holiday season is over the books go in a bin back to the basement.  So they are “new” every year.

Here are the books I am using this year.  For a complete list of all the books we’ve used since starting the tradition check out my board on Pinterest.

  1. Twas the Night Before Christmas
  2. Olivia Helps Save Christmas
  3. Frosty the Snowman
  4. Angelina’s Christmas
  5. Llama Llama Holiday Drama
  6. Christmas Wombat
  7. The Twelve Days of Christmas
  8. How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?
  9. Little Blue Truck’s Christmas
  10. The Polar Express
  11. Snowmen at Christmas
  12. Madeline’s Christmas
  13. Bear Stays Up for Christmas
  14. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies
  15. Snowmen at Night
  16. Merry Christmas Everybody (a Grover story)
  17. Corduroy’s Christmas
  18. The Littlest Christmas Tree
  19. Merry Christmas Curious George
  20. Chick n Pug Christmas
  21. Madeline in Texas
  22. Clifford’s First Christmas
  23. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  24. Paddington Bear and the Christmas Surprise
  25. My March to the Manger

How to display your books: Pinterest is full of ideas for this, but here are the ways I’ve done it.

2013:  Wrapped each book and numbered them.  Displayed them in Gretchen’s front facing bookshelf.


2014:  Wrapped each book but did not number them.  Placed them in a basket under the tree. Let Gretchen pick a random book each night.  (She was 2 so telling her which book to choose was not gonna happen).


2015:  Laziness won out and I did not wrap the books this year!  Instead I put the name of each book in one of these little envelopes from an advent kit I got at Michaels on clearance last year.  She will open the envelopes from 25 down to 1 (good way for her to practice her numbers!) and we will bring her the book from wherever we decide to stash them.


Anyone else do this tradition?  Would love to know what books you use and how you display them!

Winter Fun List


Winter (1)

  • Luminary Walk at the Overland Park Arboretum
  • Union Station train exhibit
  • Visit Crown Center
  • Santa train at Union Station
  • Drive around to see the lights
  • Christmas at Resurrection
  • Candlelight Christmas Eve service
  • Watch Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Adopt a child through church
  • Bake holiday treats
  • Make ornaments
  • 25 days of Christmas book tradition
  • Drink hot chocolate
  • Christmas craft
  • Decorate a gingerbread house
  • Trim the tree
  • Picture with Santa
  • Decorate sugar cookies
  • Read the Christmas Story
  • Put out cookies and milk for Santa
  • Go sledding
  • Feed the birds
  • Build a snowman
  • Do a winter craft
  • Build a blanket fort
  • Attend a Saturday morning kids workshop at Home Depot

Great winter fun list printable can be found here.  I like to write the list out so we can physically check things off the list!

Fall Fun Wrap Up

Our fall ended up getting a little crazy.  Between Gretchen breaking her leg and the exciting World Series win for the Royals, it was a very eventful fall!

We accomplished almost everything on our list with two exceptions.  We decided not to do family photos this fall since Gretchen was in her bright orange cast during prime photo season, and we didn’t make it to the Midwest Balloon Fest (not really torn up about that, it sounds like the event was a bit of a disaster with very few actual hot air balloons on display!)

Here’s what we did check off the list, in no particular order!


Go trick or treating


Go apple picking (we made it out to Cider Hill Family Orchard twice this season)


Make a Thanksgiving craft


Night of the Living Farm at Deanna Rose


Go on a hike (we did a fall scavenger hunt at the Overland Park Arboretum)


Have a cider slush (perfect after apple picking in August, lol!


Fall craft


Pumpkin hollow at Deanna Rose


Make an apple pie


Visit the pumpkin patch (we visited KC Pumpkin Patch at their new location)


Maple Leaf Festival in Baldwin City, KS


Roast pumpkin seeds


Decorate pumpkins


Host a Halloween party


Drink hot apple cider and eat cider donuts (visit to the Louisburg Cider Mill)
Not pictured:
Make applesauce
Make pumpkin pancakes
Make a pumpkin recipe

31 Weeks at Deanna Rose Farmstead

When Deanna Rose opened for the season on April 1st we didn’t set out to go every week until they closed on October 31st, it just kind of started to happen and as the season went on we made a point of making a visit each week.  Most weeks I took her, some weeks Tyler did, sometimes we went together, and while we were on vacation she went with her grandparents.

I love seeing the animals and the flowers grow throughout the season.  There is so much to enjoy and discover there, we never got bored with it.  Also, it’s free Mondays – Thursdays, can’t beat that!  Usually we only did one side or the other.  Sometimes we only went to play on the playgrounds or see the goats.  During the hottest parts of the summer went during their evening hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Much cooler and MUCH less crowded.  Those were some of my favorite visits.  We made some great memories and I’m so sad it will be closed for the next 5 months.

Some pictures that chronicle our adventures at the farmstead this year.



First time meeting her favorite goat, Benjamin.  AKA “the goat with no ears”



Bottle feeding Benjamin for the first time, he is a hungry little goat.



Every time we went she had to check up on him and see how he was doing


Introducing Daddy to Benjamin



She loves the colorful garden stones throughout the children’s garden and butterfly trail


First time fishing, sadly we didn’t catch any.


First time riding the ponies.


Her legs were too short for the pedal tractors this year but I bet by next spring she’ll be doing it!



I love watching things sprout and grow in the children’s garden.


She loves to sing the alphabet song while she walks along the alphabet stones.




Summer evening. We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.


The butterfly garden, love the creative ways they grow things out here.



Showdown with a very territorial rooster


Only time we saw all three bunnies out.


She loved to find the “G” brick.



Playing in the little cabin with her daddy.


Trip to the farm with her 5 cousins.



Watching the baby ducks swim.


Holding hands with her cousin Hosanna


Milking the “cows” with two of her cousins


Feeding the ducks with Hosanna and Karis


Checking on Benjamin (can you spot him by now?)


That one time a rooster got loose and chased us down.


Feeding duck food to the fish.




Hay bale slide at Pumpkin Hollow


Visiting Pumpkin Hollow with a friend


Riding the cow train for the first time





Night of the Living Farm (with her broken leg)


Last visit to the farm this season


Absolutely loves dancing to the Disney songs at the gazebo


Til next year Deanna Rose!

Oregon Trip- Cannon Beach

Part 1 of our Oregon trip can be found here

Day 3: We arrived in Cannon Beach too early to check in at our hotel and quickly discovered that most restaurants in town are closed on Tuesdays.  None of the places we’d bookmarked to try were open so we ended up at Local Grill and Scoop.  It was okay but nothing to write home about. After we drove up to Ecola State Park and walked around at Ecola Point.  We drove over to Indian Beach but decided we’d come back later when we had more time to explore it.


We came back to town and shopped at the farmers market for picnic food: salami, hummus and pita bread, and fresh peaches.  It was finally time to check in so we got settled in our room (with a killer view!) at the Hallmark Resort and Spa and then walked down to Haystack Rock to explore the beach and the tidal pools.

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We went back to Ecola State Park and enjoyed our picnic at Indian Beach and watched the surfers and the sunset.  This was a highlight of the trip for both of us.

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Day 4: We had breakfast at the Lazy Susan Cafe.  They take only cash but fortunately there was an ATM across the street! This place is tiny and has less than 10 tables.  The food is GREAT.  I had waffles and bacon and Tyler had…something. I was hungry and dove right in and paid no attention, lol.


After breakfast we drove a little over an hour south to Cape Meares.  Sadly it was enveloped in fog, so we couldn’t see the ocean.  This was a bummer but still made for some good pictures and we saw the mysterious octopus tree so that was fun.

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We decided to part ways for the afternoon and Tyler hiked at Ecola State Park and I shopped and explored in downtown Cannon Beach.  I picked up food and wine for another picnic at Provisions 124 and I got a nutella crepe from Crepe Neptune that was divine.

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When Tyler returned we drove down to Hug Point and explored the rock formations, waterfall, and cave.

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We ate dinner in our room and then went down to the beach and enjoyed the sunset.  The hotel had free beach blankets so that was a nice amenity.  Originally we were hoping to have a campfire and smores on the beach (hotel provides everything for this) but due to the drought and a fire ban this was a no-go.  The sunset was beautiful and after the sun went down we watched as the stars came out one by one until we got too chilly.

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Day 5: After checking out we ate breakfast at The Wayfarer.  Excellent views of Haystack Rock but the food was mediocre at best.  Then it was on to Portland….

Oregon Trip- Columbia River Gorge

Tyler and I decided to head to Oregon to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary a few months early.  Fall seemed like a good time to go and my in laws were happy to come stay with Gretchen for a week.  The first two days of our trip were spent in Hood River, Oregon.

Day 1: Flew into PDX on Southwest Airlines (no fee for checked bags, woo!  C boarding group, boo!)  Picked up our rental car from Alamo (got a great deal through Costco) and drove up towards Hood River. It was 50 degrees and raining lightly so our plan to visit some scenic stops along the way were postponed. We did hike down to Bridal Veil Falls though, not realizing the trail was very steep and pretty treacherous while wet.  Also I was wearing a maxi dress and flip flops so not the best hiking gear!  Fortunately I had my rain jacket and a husband to hold my hand and keep me from falling!  The falls were worth the hike, so beautiful!


Drove on to Hood River where it was not raining, just cool.  Still it wasn’t too cool to eat outside so we did just that at 6th Street Bistro.  The food and beer were good, nothing out of this world but it was a good meal.  After dinner we walked around down by the river and watched the sunset.  We got some amazing strawberry and hazelnut gelato from a little gelato stand that used only local and organic ingredients.


Day 2: Delicious breakfast at our B&B, the Villa Columbia, before we left to drive the “fruit loop.”  We stopped at several places along the route, including Gorge White House, Apple Valley Country Store, Packer Orchard and Bakery, and some scenic stops along the highway where we got pictures of Mt. Hood.  We ate lunch at Solstice and had a delicious cherry and chorizo pizza and salad with local pears, goat cheese, and hazelnuts.  In the afternoon we wanted some downtime so we sat on the balcony at the B&B and read books we’d brought along.  260


In the evening we went back to Gorge White House for dinner (pear quesadillas, YUM!) and wine/cider tasting.  Without the sun directly overhead we were able to walk through the orchard and the flower fields and really take it all in.  This place is beautiful.  A million thanks to my friend Stacy for telling us about it!  It closes at 7 so we went back to the river front park and watched the kite boarders and the sunset.



Day 3: Tyler did a 12 mile run this morning along the closed portion of the scenic highway. We had breakfast at the B&B and checked out and then headed towards the ocean.  Along the way we stopped at Horsetail Falls, Multnomah Falls, and Vista House at Crown Point.  It was a beautiful morning and not crowded since the holiday weekend wa s over.




Fall Fun List


image credit

Fall Fun List:

Visit the pumpkin patch
Go apple picking
Eat cider donuts
Go on a hike
Maple Leaf Festival
Midwest Balloon Fest
Night of the living farm at Deanna Rose
Pumpkin hollow at Deanna Rose
Make applesauce
Fall craft
Decorate pumpkins
Make pumpkin pancakes
Host a Halloween party
Roast pumpkin seeds
Go trick or treating
Make a pumpkin recipe
Drink hot cider
Have a cider slush
Make an apple pie
Get family photos taken
Turkey craft for Thanksgiving