Christmas, Family, General

Don’t Forget Your Dog This Christmas!

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Often enough, our pets are our world, along with the rest of our family. Some of us even consider them our “furbabies”! They’re important enough for us to celebrate their birthdays, and we spend a lot of time running around after them. So we devote a lot of time to them, and we feel like we love them like we’ve never loved anyone else before in our lives! Let’s face it, they’re cute and fluffy, and immediately understand the word no! With Christmas around the corner, don’t let them get left out of the festivities. It’s no fun just to see your dog sitting out of the way while everyone else is having fun.

(Related post: How To Help Your Kids Sleep On Christmas Eve!)

So you’ve got everything for the kids sorted, and you’ve got the presents all wrapped up under the tree for the little one to marvel at. Then you turn around and see your dog sitting right behind you, a sad look on their face. Sound familiar? If it does, pamper your pooch a little with a couple of their own presents on Christmas day. While they may not understand what’s going on, they definitely know what attention is and how it makes them feel! Here are some quick things to pick up for your pets just in time for the big day.

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Why Not Get Them an Advent Calendar? Maybe a Stocking?

There’s a market around niche products for dogs, and for any animal really, so next time you go to the pet store, pick up a doggy chocolate calendar! This won’t hurt your favorite friend to eat and you can stop the kids from trying to feed Rover their chocolates on the sly!

Similarly, you can also buy them stockings to hang up on the mantelpiece next to your little ones’, and fill it with small treats and toys. Just make sure your dog doesn’t catch a hold of the tail because the smell got too overwhelming for them and they just had to try out the merchandise! Hang them up high, or get a premade stocking that’s well sealed, meaning you’ll be able to get to it before any real damage is done.

Bag Up Some Good Treats!

Christmas is a good time to share in food and delights, and just because a dog’s diet is different to our own doesn’t mean they can’t take part. Healthy treats can be given to a good dog in bigger quantities, but of course not too many! It can be a lot cheaper to buy natural treats instead of the processed stuff we find on the supermarket shelves: buy up packs of treats that have foods like chicken and beef in them in large concentrations, which a lot of the bigger companies don’t have, and you can save about $10 to $20 on the food.

Dogs love to eat; just look at how many of them tend to beg for a bite off our own plates! Direct Fido elsewhere if he’s doing this a lot, and give him good reason to. A dog is always going to love something tasty to chow down on, so why not pick up some Betsy Farms dog duck treats for them to rip open on the day? Dogs have a natural tendency to sate their innate hunter’s drive, and tearing up some festive wrapping paper is a good way to do this! Just be sure you got all the little bits from under the sofa.

Buy Them A Ball or Treat Launcher

Following up from the point above, dogs love to chase and get a reward at the end of it. So, if you find that your pooch has boundless energy and your arm gets tired after a few short minutes, there’s a treat in store for you too! Invest in a launcher!

This covers a lot more distance and gets your dog to run faster and for longer distances. You can waste a little more of their energy out this way! Similarly, you can pack a launcher with whatever you want your dog to chase after, whether it’s some treats because you’re trying to get your four-legged friend to exercise more, or a ball because it’s their all-time favorite. This is the best gift for them!

Go Out and Buy Them Some Clothes

Animal clothing is cute and fluffy and makes a lot of Instagram worthy moments. Everyone loves to see a pet dressed up in headbands and with a scarf around their neck, so why not go the extra mile and get them a whole set? It makes a great Christmas card to send around, and you’ve got yourself a good moment for the family photo album.

A lot of people think it’s silly to dress an animal up and take some fun and creative photos with them, but you’re not hurting anyone and it’s a good way to introduce more fun to your family! If you have a smaller dog, the options are endless, and you can invent yourself a mini reindeer, elf, or Santa himself in the shape of your canine companion.

For a bigger dog, the options are a little more limited, but that doesn’t mean your Great Dane has to miss out! Make your own clothes for your little buddy; you can cut, paste, stick, rip, sew, and bedeck material with sequins. Plus, it uses up a lot of the kids’ creative energy, so if you leave it til’ just before the big day itself, it means they’re more likely to settle down to sleep on Christmas Eve!

It’s all about making this Christmas one to remember! If you have a pet, particularly a dog, include them in your plans for a lot more variety during the festive season. You could go for walks in the park through the snow, an activity a dog will always love, and you can get your dog to sign cards with their pawprints when dipped in safe paints or food coloring. It’s a nice touch and people are guaranteed to love the extra affection.

General, Holidays

Hello, December!

Happy Friday everyone! Today is the day I send out my Christmas Cards, and begin making last minute plans for Friendsmas and Christmas parties!

As I’ve discussed before, the holiday season is my favorite time of year. Specifically, there’s something about the magic of December. All the decorations, the trees, the lights, and music everywhere. It seems like a generally cheerful time in our community!

I absolutely love going all out for the holidays. Living in Southeast Texas, this isn’t something easy to achieve. Luckily for my kids, I’ve found an ice skating rink! It’s about an hour and a half away, but super affordable and I cannot wait to surprise them with a trip!

There are so many local activities we’re looking forward to tomorrow, and I’m hoping to hit almost all them! Just in one day we have:

-A Run, Run Rudolph 5k and 1k (8:30 am)

-Ice House Museum Make it and Take it Event(9-11am)

-Christmas in The Big Thicket Festival(10am-5pm)

-Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at the library(11am-2pm)

and the first Christmas Parade we’ll be attending! (6-7pm)

Do you think we’ll be able to do them all? I hope so!

Wade has his first Christmas Party at Taekwondo next Thursday. Then next Friday we have the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in the Park (I /love/ tree lighting ceremonies!)which is going to have a Santa and a few activities. We’ve already had Santa come by on the firetruck and throw candy canes! (Our local fire department does this every year, on the weekends they do 6-7 streets a night with Santa rolling by)

The 14th we’re going to a premiere of the new Star Wars (because we’re total Star Wars nerds, no lie).

On the 15th we have our Friendsmas get together and white elephant (I’m NOT hosting this time). Then the 19th the kids have a potluck and so far those are all our set-in-stone plans before the big day! I’m sure there will be plenty more, as I mentioned the ice skating earlier!

Is your December calendar full yet? What activities do you have planned so far?

Hello, December! - The Southern Smiths: A few of my favorite things, as well as some of our December plans!
General, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in 5 Countries

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is the day we gather with friends and family, and really focus on how thankful we are to have survived another year. It’s definitely not about the food. Not at all.

I found some interesting things out this month! Did you know, the United States isn’t the only country to celebrate Thanksgiving?

I’m going to go over traditions in four other countries, and list out some of our own as well!

So, what country comes first?

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Japan

Today, while we’re celebrating our harvest festivals, Japan is having a different type of celebration.

On the 23rd of November every year, Japan celebrates   Kinrō Kansha no Hi (Labor Thanksgiving Day)

This holiday they commemorate labor and production, and they give one another thanks.

Different events are held throughout Japan, like the Nagano Labor Festival. This festival encourages peace and human rights, as well as caring for the environment.

It’s not uncommon for school children to create drawings and gift them to the local police stations.

Germany

In most Protestant churches across Germany, the first Sunday in October is   Erntedankfest or The Harvest Thanksgiving Festival

This is a Christian celebration where God is thanked for the gifts of the harvest. The date has been moved many times in history, but in 1972 the Roman Catholic German Bishops’ Conference set the first Sunday of October as a fixed date, without making it a stipulation across other communities.

There are various celebrations, from citywide parades to small church gatherings.

Canada

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. Similar to the United States and Germany, theirs is a celebration of thanks at the close of the harvest season.

Though there are religious sects, it is a mostly secular holiday. It’s celebrated almost identically to the way the United States celebrates.

New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are the only provinces that do not have Thanksgiving as a statutory holiday.

The United States

Most people reading today are probably from the United States.

We celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. It is also a celebration of the blessings received through the year, including the harvest.

We get together with family and friends, watch parades, football, and eat pretty much the same meal every year. But it never gets old, at least not in my family.

This holiday is generally regarded as the start of the Holiday season for most Americans, though others might argue that Halloween is the true beginning of the season.

The Netherlands

Each year on the morning of the American Thanksgiving Day in the   Pieterskerk (a Gothic church in Leiden), a non-denominational service is held. This service commemorates the pilgrims who migrated to Plymouth Plantation that had resided in Leiden from 1609-1620 and left records of their births, marriages, and deaths.

In Protestant churches, the first Wednesday in November is Dankdag, or Thanksgiving. This is not a public holiday and those who recognize it go to church in the evening, or take the day off and attend the morning service.

Do you know of any celebrations similar to Thanksgiving? What are they?

Thanksgiving in 5 Countries - The Southern Smiths: I go over Thanksgiving Traditions across the world, From the United States to The Netherlands.
Family, General

Welcome November!

I promise it’s not just Fall. I get excited over every season change! Fall might have “officially” started over a month ago, but to me, November is the true month of Fall. October is just.. the whole month is Halloween, let’s get real. So, what are your plans for November so far?

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We’ve already started some of my favorite things to do this season! I’ve got logs on the fire, apple cider on the stove, and DELICIOUS freshly roasted pumpkin seeds that I can never seem to get enough of. We’ve been surrounded by good company, and have plans made throughout the month.

We’ve also got a movie list! A lot of people do the October horror movie list (we did too!), but my husband enjoyed it so much, we’ve decided to continue it into November. I’ve come up with a list of movies that are on Netflix for us to watch this month, except for the Star Wars movies. That’s just a family tradition we started last year, the week of Thanksgiving we watch the prequels and the original trilogy. I’m not sure why, but we love it!

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I’ve got a LOT to do this month! I have a mommy group Thanksgiving potluck the Friday before Thanksgiving to make a dish for. The next day, I’m hosting a Friendsgiving get together at our house (which means I have to provide the Turkey, oh boy). And then Thanksgiving Day we’ve got to split between my mom’s Thanksgiving, and his mom’s, as well as factoring in how to get our dad’s sides of the family included. That’s going to be a pretty full week.

I’ve also got to start figuring out this months meal plan, which is not the most fun thing for me. But it’s got to be done! Speaking of which, I need to go clean out the fridge and get ready for this month’s groceries.

How are y’all enjoying the season so far? Have thanksgiving plans made yet?

Welcome November! - The Southern Smiths: A few of my favorite things about fall, and our plans for November so far!
General, Halloween

Happy Halloween!

It’s officially the beginning of the holiday season! We’ve had a LOT of celebrating going on in our neck of the woods. Here are just a few things we’ve done this past week!

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Pumpkin Carving

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Kody and I probably like this part more than the kids! Seeing our creations come to life is really awesome to me, even if we are using stencils. The kids pick designs for their pumpkins, and help us gut them, and then Kody and I do the carving! This year Wade’s had an obsession with spiders, so of course, he picked the spider pumpkin. Kade just kind of pointed at an image, but it was fun to do!

Costumes

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Wade LOVES Teen Titans Go. He’s obsessed with Robin, so obviously we had to find a Robin costume (the FIRST year he didn’t pick a cow costume! YES)
We thought it would be PERFECT to do the baby as Batman! Usually, the OLDER brother is Batman, but this was too cute to pass up.

Trunk Or Treat

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Kody and I had a trunk at our Church’s community trunk or treat! It was sooo much fun decorating and getting to see the costumes of all the kids that came out. And of course, the boys enjoyed getting to trick-or-treat early!

They also had a church Halloween party, two other trunk or treats, and a Halloween party with a playgroup this morning!

I’m getting this typed up while we wait to go to Wade’s taekwondo class for the night, and then we’re going to figure out where to do some trick-or-treating before dinner.

What did y’all dress up as? How have you celebrated this week?

Happy Halloween! - The Southern Smiths: Pumpkin carving, costumes, and more!