10 Fun and Easy Christmas Activities

The holiday season is young but we have already packed a lot of Yuletide-fun into the first week of December. While trying to plant small seeds into Sloan’s heart about what this season is truly about, we are also finding lots of Christmas activities that 3-year-old girls really enjoy.

If you are looking for some easy and festive ways to get into the holiday spirit with your little ones (or big ones), here are 10 ideas that we have already done with Sloan this month.

Write Letter to Santa – We sat Sloan down at the table and helped her write a letter to Santa. She then decorated the paper and envelope with her markers and stickers. If the Big Guy writes back, I plan to devote a blog post to the whole process.

Sloan writing a letter to Santa.

Christmas Light Drive – Taking a page out of my parents’ holiday playbook, we packed Sloan and Beau into the car on Sunday night and looked at some of the best Christmas light displays in the Spokane Valley. Sloan had a great time yelling out “Look daddy! Look mommy!” when we would pass an especially magnificent house. The next day, Sloan asked us if we could go look at Christmas lights again.

One of the trees in a neighborhood we visited on our Christmas light drive was covered from the top to bottom in these beautiful lights.

Drive-thru Santa Experience – This past Saturday, Sloan and Beau met Santa…from a distance. A local charity organization in Spokane invited the public to its Santa drive-thru event. But it wasn’t just Santa – he brought one of his reindeer too! Sloan was ecstatic during the entire experience and thoroughly enjoyed the frosted Christmas cookie that the volunteers gave her prior to us driving away.

Over the weekend, Sloan met Santa and saw reindeer at a drive-thru event.

Chocolate Countdown Calendar – Thanks to her Aunt Miranda, this chocolate calendar has become something that Sloan looks forward to each morning. She locates the number that corresponds to the December date, punches out the door, and identifies the shape of the chocolate (i.e. Santa hat, ornament, present, etc.) before dropping it into her mouth.

Sloan is a big fan of her chocolate calendar.

Hot Cocoa Bar – Remember when I wrote about the hot chocolate bombs I got my hands on? As you can imagine, Sloan was just as excited about them as me. For good behavior during the day I have let her make her own cups of hot chocolate at night using one the bombs. I then let her add marshmallows and whipped cream (under close adult supervision).

Sloan has made hot cocoa out of these hot chocolate bombs and then added whipped cream and marshmallows.

Christmas Shows – With all our new streaming services, an extremely large vault of Christmas programming for kids has been opened up to us. Best of all, Sloan eats it up. From Blippi’s Snowflake Scavenger Hunt to the StoryBots Christmas special to the Grinch movies, the entertainment is non-stop for Sloan.

Sloan watching a Christmas Netflix show in our living room.

Thanking Sallie – Santa isn’t the only holiday figure that Sloan is writing to. Last night she sent her first correspondence to Sallie, the Elf on the Shelf who is assigned to our daughter for the month. Sloan thanked Sallie for the cheer she has already brought to our house and perhaps reinforced a couple of gift ideas to pass onto Santa.

Sloan wrote a letter to Sallie last night.

Library Crafts – We might not be able to go inside our county libraries, but their services are still available via curbside. The Spokane County Library District is offering a cinnamon spice ornament kit for anyone who wants to get a little crafty. We ordered the free kit via its website, picked it up, and Sid did the project with Sloan.

Sid and Sloan made these cinnamon ornaments today. They got the kit to make them, with all ingredients included, from the library.

Christmas Card Mail – We have started to receive Christmas cards in the mail. Although I personally love opening them, I have a little girl who enjoys doing the same thing just as much. I have to coach her not to tear the card itself when she rips open the envelope but it is a minor inconvenience for the satisfaction that she receives.

Pajamas Party – Go ahead, do a couple Christmas Eve rehearsals before the real deal! We let Sloan get in her Christmas pajamas and “wear them in” before the night of December 24 comes around. We are pretty sure Santa won’t mind.

Sloan slipped into her Christmas Eve pajamas the other day.


With it only being December 8, I am sure I can drop a couple more activity lists before December 25. In the meantime, hopefully you can find some holiday joy with these 10 hacks. Don’t Blink.

The Special Ornaments on Our Tree, Part II

Last year, almost to the date, I wrote about my five favorite ornaments on our Christmas tree. With another holiday season now underway at the Reser household, I decided what better way to truly embrace this special time of year than to write a similar blog post?

On this Sunday, I would like to present The Special Ornaments on Our Tree, Part II. With one exception, this list features different decorations from last year. Seasons Greetings and enjoy!

5. Star Topper – Last year, we simply did not have something, such as a star or angel, gracing the top of our tree. Well, Santa called us last week and told us that if we don’t finish off our tree the right way, he might consider passing our house on Christmas Eve. My mother-in-law, not wanting Sloan to miss out on a home visit from Santa, got us this gold and glittery star. It is the perfect addition to this year’s tree.

This is the star that now sits atop our tree.

4. Our Initials – I had no idea that people put letters on their Christmas trees until I met Sidney. She explained that it is custom to put the first letter of the names of the people living in the household on the tree. Thus, we now have two “S’s” and one “B” hanging on our tree. We got these ornaments when we visited a Charlotte mall last year.

The initials of our family helps to decorate our tree.

3. We Are Expecting Snow People Family – Yes, I know, I know, this ornament made last year’s list. However, if you remember (or if you just want to click here), a portion of this ornament was blocked out in the blog post. Because we didn’t reveal the name of our daughter until after she was born, we obviously didn’t reveal it in Don’t Blink. With Sloan now happily part of our family, I can take away the Photoshop and show the ornament in its full glory! This will forever be an extremely special part of our tree.

I can now reveal our “We Are Expecting” ornament in its full glory.

2. Mexican Ornament – This ornament comes from the land of Mexico. We bought it at a bustling flea market in downtown Cancun during our honeymoon. However, last year we couldn’t find it to put on our tree. We had packed it away and simply forgot where we stored it. Well, it resurfaced earlier this year and we now have some international flavor on our tree. More than just the foreign land appeal, it is a symbol of a very special and fun time that Sidney and I shared.

We brought back this ornament from our honeymoon in Cancun.

1. Sloan decoration – No doubt about it, this is the cutest and most special ornament on our tree. Sidney took one of the images from Sloan’s photoshoot last month and made it into a Christmas ornament. It hangs not too far from the ornament of toddler Sidney that made last year’s list. It warms our hearts to see our little girl grinning at us through the pine needles and lights. Thank you, Sidney, for making this.

Nothing is sweeter than seeing this sweet girl smile at us from our tree.


Although we already have more tree decorations than we could possibly need from Target, my hope is that each year we can continue adding one or two sentimental ornaments. Thanks for taking a tour of our little tree and I hope the decorations that hang on yours bring plenty of joy and memories. Don’t Blink.

Well Done, Target

I am not a big Target fan. I find the chain overrated, deceptively overly priced, and uninspiring. However, deep down in my heart I do have a smidge of affinity for the store. Why? My wife loves the place.

Well, that “smidge” at least doubled in size today. I read in the newspaper that Target is putting an end to what it calls the “Christmas Creep.” The phrase, which I really like by the way, refers to the tendency for many retailers to start rolling out the Christmas products and decorations well before Thanksgiving, sometimes even before Halloween. This year, Target will focus on actually promoting and recognizing Turkey Day before transforming its stores into mini Santa Workshops.

I am not a fan of Target but I really appreciate the move the company just made.

Look, I love Christmas. In fact, I love the Christmas season. But let’s be real, the Christmas season doesn’t start in October. I prefer to stay patient and wait for the good things in life. It makes them that much better when they occur. Busting out the Christmas trees and egg nog two months before the actual holiday normalizes and cheapens it.

Nothing has accelerated the “Christmas Creep” more than big box stores, malls, and other retailers. It has gotten completely out of control. These culprits have taken it to a level of absurdity. Thankfully, one of the big players is finally taking a stand.

Target says it will hold back on the Yuletide spirit because of feedback from its shoppers. Yes, the customers told the retail giant that red and green looks tacky with orange and black. Although Target might think in the back of its head that early Christmas green translates to money green, I am glad they are listening to the masses and putting a temporary delay on the madness.

As I said, I am not a Grinch by any means. I just value moderation and common sense. I don’t say this very often but well done, Target. Don’t Blink.

The Newest Trend in Christmas Lights

It is December 1 and I now feel like I can talk about CHRISTMAS! I love the holidays so how couldn’t I love the granddaddy of them all? Tonight I am here to talk about Christmas lights (remember this post from last year?).

I am dating myself here, but it was probably 20 years ago when a big Christmas light trend suddenly popped up: ICICLE LIGHTS. They seemed to take the holiday decorating industry by storm as it seemed like every house in my neighborhood put them up within a two year span of when they were introduced.

Yes, my young readers, icicle lights used to not exist. To be completely honest, I kind of wish they never did. I have never found icicle lights overly abundant in Yuletide cheer. I think they are boring. I also think they fail to satisfactorily pose as what they are named after. Yep, even after all these years I am still unimpressed with them.

But did you know there is a new Christmas light trend this year? In fact, I actually kind of like it!

While driving through the neighborhood of our sponsor couple, Sidney and I noticed a new holiday lighting phenomenon. Over the past several nights in her own neighborhood, we have observed other homes with a similar display as well. Although we have only seen about 10 houses using this type of technology so far, we both have a feeling that as we get started with December and more people start decorating, we are going to see it much more. Say hello to laser Christmas lights.

I took a photo of this house in Sid's neighborhood last night. This home is celebrating the holiday season with laser Christmas lights.

I took a photo of this house in Sid’s neighborhood last night. This home is celebrating the holiday season with laser Christmas lights.

When I first saw a house covered in bright colors over its entire frame, I didn’t know exactly what I was seeing. I knew it looked really cool but by quickly driving by I didn’t know how the effect was achieved. All I knew was that instead of a home decorated with Christmas lights on the roof gutter and around the windows, people were now able to deck out the entire outside house area in Christmas spirit.

It didn’t take long for Sidney to do a quick search on her phone and learn that laser Christmas lights are the next big thing. She explained to me that the pretty lights on these houses are projected onto them. Folks purchase projectors, set them up on their lawn, point them toward the house, and flip the switch!

As Sid and I have looked at these homes utilizing the laser lights, we have noticed some look better than others. Well, the reason why one house looks a lot jollier than another house is pretty simple…more projectors. Last night we pulled up to a house utilizing the lights that looked especially good. We scoped it out for a couple minutes admiring the beauty and counting the projectors. This particular home had four of them. Keep that number in mind if you are interested in converting to laser Christmas lights this season.

Part of the appeal for me is that these lights are unique. However, even if every house in the neighborhood used lasers this year I would still think they look really cool. Let me give you this analogy: You can put up string lights and your dwelling will look like the house of an elf. You can utilize laser lights and it will look like you are roommates with Santa Claus.

Laser Christmas lights beat the tar out of icicle lights. I am excited to see how many houses utilizing this new holiday technology will pop up this year. Don’t Blink.

What Do You Want For Christmas?

People dread the holidays for many reasons. Some hate the commercialism, some don’t get along with their family, some don’t have family, some are depressed, and some are just Scrooges. I don’t dread the holidays, but if I did it would be because of one question I get asked way too much:

What do you want for Christmas?

I hate this question. It drives me crazy, mainly because I never really have an answer. It doesn’t help that I have a family, specifically a brother and a sister, who start hounding me with this question via text messaging pretty much on a daily basis beginning in mid-November. At least my mom waits until after Thanksgiving to start nagging me. After years of the constant pestering it has started to become kind of a running joke that I am going to get harassed non-stop until I finally give them some sort of information on what they can but me so they can go out and get their Christmas shopping done insanely early.

As you can see, the question comes frequently, it comes early, and it comes from both my brother and sister.

As you can see, the question comes frequently, it comes early, and it comes from both my brother and sister.

So why don’t I just put a halt to the annoyance and give them my wish list, you ask? Well first off, no matter how much they are driving me crazy I won’t get myself to start thinking about Christmas in November…no chance. Then when early December rolls around I am usually too busy to think about gifts as our sports seasons are overlapping and the Adams Center is my permanent home. Then, after that first week in December when it becomes halfway acceptable to entertain such a question, I stall intentionally because I am so irritated with the constant text messages asking the dreaded question. Finally, when I do try to put some thought into what I want for the holidays I usually end up drawing a big blank.

I just have very little use for material gifts. I am not into appliances and I don’t do electronics. I have a ten year old television in my living room for crying out loud. I don’t care about updating my furniture or getting new bedding. I am twenty-seven years old and have no use for video games or other toys that people my age sometimes unfortunately still utilize. My work takes care of my phone and computer. I am absolutely content with what I have. So when I hear “What do you want for Christmas” I am left scratching my head.

However, last night I sat down on my couch and told myself I would not get up until I composed a Christmas list. I brainstormed for about a half hour and finally came up with a handful of items that I wouldn’t mind receiving this December 25. All the items on the list are practical and are things that would help make my life more convenient. This is what I came up with.

My 2013 Christmas List

My 2013 Christmas List

Immediately my brother texted back with a rude response (for the blacked out word, insert any word of your choice that means “stupid”).


Come on Glen, don't hate.

Come on Glen, don’t hate.

Well sorry Glen, that is the best that I could come up with. Those items will make me a happy guy on Christmas morning. Not that I have to explain my wish list but just a brief explanation: Food cards – I can always use food cards to area restaurants, after all I am a bachelor. Clothes – The most standard answer in the world to “What do you want for Christmas?” Even though I already have more clothes than most girls, I can always use more. Stamps – I love having a book of stamps in one of my drawers! It makes paying bills much easier. I also actually still engage in correspondence with the people I like via the U.S. Postal Service and nothing is more unsettling than an addressed envelope with no stamp. Sriracha- It is true, there is already a shortage of Sriracha since the sauce’s plant had to cease production. I can’t find it anywhere in Missoula and I am all out at my apartment. Please family, help me! Dollar Store Gift Card – I have a love-hate relationship with the Dollar Store but the items that I do find acceptable to purchase there I usually buy mass quantities of so it helps to have a gift card.

By all means, this is NOT a hint to all my readers out there. My family will take care of me and satisfy my wish list. I mean, come on, after driving me absolutely nuts to tell them what I wanted I pretty much better be swimming in Sriracha sauce come the end of this month. Best of luck getting all of your shopping done my friends! Don’t Blink.

My Holiday Message Tradition

About 5 years ago I started a holiday tradition that I still carry on to this day. Fed up and annoyed with mass texts that people would send simply saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Thanksgiving” I wanted to do something that would distance itself from the superficial crap that other people were sending out while at the same time giving my friends and family something to look forward to, laugh at, and maybe even enjoy.

Many of the people who will read this blog post have had the honor (or the horror) of receiving a holiday text from me. Some of you have consistently gotten them over the years, some of you may have just gotten your first one this Thanksgiving, and some of you may have received them before but not anymore. I estimate that I probably send it out to 75% of my current contact list. I try to leave off people who I barely know, people who are easily offended, and people who probably don’t want to put up with my BS. But all in all, I try to share my holiday spirit with everyone.

So what exactly is a Brent Reser holiday text? Well, as I said, I completely despise the impersonal mass texts that people lazily send out during the holidays. So what I decided to do was still reach my friends and family with a holiday greeting but do it in a way that took a little bit of effort. Thus, each major holiday I started to dress up in some ridiculous seasonal garb that matched the specific holiday, choose a cool setting to be in front of, take a picture, accompany the picture with an over the top message, and then send the picture/message out to my contacts.

Although my holiday texts are very goofy and ridiculous, I do take them very seriously. I start thinking about what I want to do several weeks in advance of the holiday. Then, as the holiday draws near, I will go to a party store and purchase supplies for my costume and props. I always spend more money than I should on stupid things that I will only use once for the sole purpose of the picture but I don’t really care. After doing something for five years, you have to keep coming up with different gags and ideas. I usually always take the picture on the actual holiday although a couple times in the past I have taken it the day before for the sake of time such as if I was traveling or if I would be at a place where I could not get my desired setting. My two main photographers of my picture over the years have been either my mom or my brother. I have driven both of them NUTS with the numerous takes I have them do, making sure I get the perfect picture. I mean I am sending it out to 200 people, I got to make sure it is looking good!

I always send holiday texts out on Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. In the past, I have also sent out holiday texts on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and Halloween. Everyone who has received my texts knows that each one will ALWAYS contain a couple of elements. I like to keep the integrity of my holiday messages within the friends and family that I send them to so I won’t disclose fully what those elements are over this blog but I will say it centers around a certain facial expression and a certain beverage. For most of the holidays, my messages will be on the goofier side but I do send out a classier one for the Christmas Day version.

Wow, I have not even got to the actual text part of the message. Accompanying the picture I send out is also a heartfelt, rather long, special holiday greeting from myself. Take the generic “Merry Christmas” text message and multiply it by a thousand to get what I put into it. Although the length of my message might be likened to a book and although many people probably exit out of the message after reading the first sentence, I just like to put the effort into it. As with the picture, there are a couple of constants that I make sure to always include in the text portion. Again, I won’t say exactly what those constants are but I always try to add some humor along with a genuine message. Oh yeah, I also like to include at the end a certain phrase that I am very fond of using…any guesses on that?

Over the years, my messages have evolved a little bit. With the amazing invention of the iPhone, no longer does it take 4 hours and a whole life’s worth of battery to send out my message to my contacts. The process goes much quicker now since the iPhone is much faster and I have the option to send it out to more than 10 people at a time. It is interesting to note, however, that I mostly still send my message out in groups of 10. With the ability of group messaging, I just don’t want to send out a message to 50 people and have a bunch of them replying back to everyone. Let’s just say that not everyone responds to my holiday cheer in an appropriate manner. In fact, the holiday message I sent out this Thanksgiving was the first one where I literally put a disclaimer at the very end reminding people that it was a group message they were receiving and to please take that into consideration if they decided to respond. One drawback of using the iPhone is the inability to insert music with my messages. In the past, I would always have a song/music accompanying the picture and text. It really added a lot to the overall message but unfortunately that option is no longer available.

I know many of you right now are wondering if I am going to include any past holiday message examples in this post. I am not. Again, these messages are reserved exclusively for my dear friends and family through their mobile devices. If you would like to see an example of one or if you would like to get on the list for future holiday messages, please text me to apply.

In closing, are there any other reasons why I continue to do these messages besides the fact that I hate the generic ones that people send out? The answer is yes. Believe it or not, many of my contacts who receive these messages actually enjoy seeing me make a fool out of myself. Many say that each holiday they anxiously await my special message…I am not making this up. Some say that it helps make their holiday. Others say they take it and immediately forward it on to their friends and family. As long as I can continue to add a little more joy to someone else’s holiday, I will continue to keep producing these messages. Don’t Blink.

The Holiday Season

Although I would prefer to have summer year-round, my second most preferred time of the calendar year starts tomorrow and stretches through the first day of 2013. I am talking about the fast paced, joyful holiday season starting with Thanksgiving week and running through New Year’s.

Let me just start by telling everyone to wake up tomorrow feeling rejuvenated and excited! We are entering a fun time of festivities, celebrations, days off, family, good food, and terrific sporting events. So hold onto your seats, get some discipline, and get your holiday game face on because it is time to get rolling!

Tomorrow is the start of Thanksgiving week. The work/school week goes by in a flash as many people just have to work Monday through Wednesday (including yours truly this year). The anticipation and excitement of seeing family and having a few days off is enough to put almost anyone in a good mood through the brief three days. After clocking out on Wednesday, it is time for the Turkey Day holiday to begin. Many people, especially the younger crowd, take Thanksgiving Eve to have a good time both reuniting not just with family, but old friends, as many community bars have celebrations that bring lots of folks together. Then of course Thursday comes and it is Thanksgiving! Definitely a great day to just relax, watch football, and partake in a great feast. I love Thanksgiving because it is just so relaxing and chill. I love the aroma that fills up the house and the peace that engulfs me.

I love Thanksgiving and I love my mom!

Then, in a complete reversal from the low-key, stress-free day of Thanksgiving comes Black Friday. Although I shake my head at the shameless commercialization of the day after Thanksgiving, I do usually find myself going to the mall just to be a part of the craziness and to kind of laugh at the people who really do treat it as if it was the last day in the world to ever shop again. Although I like to be part of the mania, I can only take so much of it before I become bored and irritated…thus the reason why my brother and I always find ourselves in one of the mall’s bars watching football while the rest of the family shops.

After Black Friday comes the holiday weekend. Most people just take this Saturday and Sunday to chill out, watch more football, and eat leftovers. This year, I will leave Spokane on Saturday morning so I can return to Missoula early enough to prepare for the men’s basketball game we have that night and then to work it at 7 p.m. Kind of a nice mix….spend half the 4-day weekend in Spokane with family and then the other half in the Zoo working Grizzly basketball and hanging with friends.

Once the Thanksgiving weekend concludes, it is time to enjoy the Christmas season. From late November to December 23, it is truly a special time of the year. Christmas music, Christmas parties, Christmas treats, Christmas decorating, and plain old Christmas cheer dominate the several weeks leading up to the actual eve and day celebrations. During this time, my brother and I take our annual holiday trip to Las Vegas. Nothing beats seeing Sin City decked out for Christmas! If you have never experienced Las Vegas during this time of year, I recommend it. The weather is cooler, the crowds are not as big, and everyone is just more chill. But let’s keep moving on, I can save this for another blog post.

Everyone should go to Las Vegas during December.

After all the Christmas build up, it is finally time for the holiday itself! Christmas Eve and Christmas are two very special days. Many people count Christmas as their favorite day of the whole year. Family traditions make these days so special and fun. But besides the unique things that go on inside each individual household, it is comforting to just sit back and realize that the rest of the nation is celebrating the holiday as well. The country takes a chill pill and shuts down a little bit and everyone takes time to enjoy the very special and meaningful day. I leave work on December 23 and travel to Spokane to my parents’ house. After hanging out with my brother and our old friends on that night, we travel to Walla Walla, Washington, on the morning of Christmas Eve and spend that day and some of Christmas there with our extended family. We then travel back to Spokane and open gifts on Christmas night.

For me, Christmas is all about family.

Many people take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off….well at least all of my favorite sports talk radio hosts do! Personally, I work that week but I am still in holiday mode! Besides working the Post Christmas/Pre New Year’s week, I watch A LOT of football. All of the less prominent bowl games are played on these week nights but I love the match ups and watch anyway. Also, many shows air that countdown everything that happened in the past year. The year of 2012 has been HUGE and I can’t wait to see all the recaps and lists that will commemorate it. This in between week is just nice because people take it a little easier, knowing that it is still the holiday season and a good time to recover from Christmas and to gear up for one last hurrah.

Finally, it is time for the New Year’s Holiday. I don’t have a set routine that I do for NYE or for New Year’s Day but I always make sure to have a great time. I don’t think I have done the same thing for New Year’s Eve once over the past six years but I always make sure to spend it around people who are special to me. When it comes to New Year’s Day, I just got one word for you: FOOTBALL. I love watching all the college bowl games that day, especially the Rose Bowl game, my all-time favorite college football game! I also use it as a day to diagram in my head what my goals are for the new year and to just feel fortunate for what I got.

So I hope I got you excited for the holiday season. I mean it though, enjoy these upcoming weeks. The holidays are a great time to create memories, do special things for others, enjoy family and friends, and to patch up any rifts you might have with others. I know that many of my readers (including myself) are fortunate enough to have a place for the holidays with people who love and support them. Let’s not take this for granted! Starting tomorrow, make 2012 the best holiday season ever. Don’t Blink.