Family Christmas 2019 – Planning and Executing

Family Christmas 2019 – Planning and Executing

When planning for this Christmas, I wanted to make sure that good times were had by all. In my opinion, the experience during a holiday will always trump the material things received, and I wanted to make this a memorable event for all. The planner in me wanted to have everything laid out with an itinerary that kept everyone entertained, not bored, but also not stressed. Over-scheduling is always exhausting and not scheduling enough will always have bored guests. We began an email thread for recipes and a text thread for open communication. For planning purposes, this was crucial. Everyone was able to provide feedback and suggestions. Of course, speaking with each family individually was important, but the group messages were also a way of ensuring everyone was on the same page and for communication during the holiday.

We had some dietary restrictions that everyone needed to be aware of. One of our nieces has Celiac’s disease and can not consume gluten without getting extremely sick. One of my sisters-in-law is vegan and we had to make sure that there was food available for her as well. As a family, we all came together and had some AMAZING meals!

The planning began with the idea of matching pajamas for the kiddos, watching the Polar Express movie, surprising them with tickets to the polar express and local tourism. I recommend booking reservations for anything you plan on doing, as far in advance as possible. This gives you more time to do things with everyone in the moment. Just before everyone arrived, we had the whole house cleaned and ready and I had to finalize all of the Christmas shopping. By Sunday afternoon, everything except stocking stuffers had been taken care of, reserved, purchased and set up.

Sunday 22DEC – First family arrives in time for dinner, relaxation and early bed times.
Dinner:

  • giant mixed salad
    • Spring mix and baby spinach
    • cherry tomatoes
    • cucumbers
    • green onions
    • sweet mini bell peppers
    • Raspberry vinaigrette, ranch, creamy french, avocado ranch, and oil & vinegar
  • baked potato bar with russet potatoes and sweet potatoes
    • shredded cheese
    • vegan butter and regular butter
    • salt & pepper
    • chives
    • bacon (cooked and chopped)
    • sour cream
    • cinnamon and sugar
    • mini marshmallows

Monday 23DEC – Lost Dutchman Museum and Goldfield Ghost Town. We chose to get out and see some local tourism today so that the kids could stretch their legs after being in a car for 2 days. The idea was to stroll through the museum and then go check out the ghost town. Everyone had such a fabulous time! At the museum, we walked around and checked out all of the old equipment that was used to mine in the area, then we sat down for a picnic lunch. After everyone was done eating, we drove over to the ghost town for a stroll, some coffee and a couple tours. The ghost town is actually a complete reconstruction of the previous 2 towns that had sprung up during the gold rush, in the same spot. If you ever find yourself in the area, it’s a great way to spend the day! My sister-in-law and I walked through Lulu’s Bordello tour and the whole family went on the Mammoth mine tour. GREAT experiences!
Breakfast:

  • hashbrowns w/ onions, garlic and peppers (vegan and regular)
  • eggs
  • bacon
  • avocado
  • fresh fruit
    • bananas
    • apples
    • tangerines
    • blueberries
    • COFFEE

Lunch:

  • smoked gouda and havarti
  • red grapes
  • gluten free crackers
  • chips and pretzel chips
  • hummus
  • Kind bars
  • Z Bars
  • apples
  • bananas
  • tangerines
  • wine and ciders for adults who were not driving

After the Mammoth Mine Tour, everyone was getting hungry and on our way home, we had a surprise for everyone. We took the fam to California Pizza Kitchen at Tempe Marketplace for dinner since they had options for all to include vegan options, gluten free options and everything in between. We couldn’t have asked for a better dinner experience! After dinner, we went home to collect our bikes and go tour some Christmas lights. We all rode bikes down to Scottsdazzle first, to walk around the canal convergence and experience all of the lights. After walking, running, racing the kiddos and taking a bunch of family pics, we got back on our bikes and rode over to the Christmas Wonderland House off of Granite Reef Rd. We walked through the display, drank some hot cocoa, roasted marshmallows and tried to stay dry when it was raining. We rode our bikes home, content with the day, knowing that as soon as we got home, we could get into dry clothes and go to bed. A successful day!

Tuesday 24DEC – Christmas Eve!!! We had family arrive Tuesday morning, and family arriving late that night, so the day was spent finalizing the decorations, finalizing the Christmas stockings, wrapping the final items and grabbing some last minute groceries for the next day. After the previous day, everyone was content to hang out, watch movies and make/eat food. We had a super late breakfast so everyone just snacked on salads and later, we had an early dinner.
Breakfast:

  • hashbrowns w/ onions, garlic and peppers (vegan and regular)
  • eggs
  • bacon
  • avocado
  • fresh fruit
    • bananas
    • apples
    • tangerines
    • blueberries
    • COFFEE

Dinner:

  • Vegan Lentil Pasta Bake
    • lentil noodles
    • tomato sauce
    • tomato paste
    • stewed tomatoes
    • plant based meatballs
    • herbs and spices
  • Cheesy meat sauce lentil pasta bake
    • lentil noodles
    • tomato sauce
    • tomato paste
    • stewed tomatoes
    • italian meatballs
    • herbs and spices
    • shredded cheese
  • giant mixed salad
    • Spring mix and baby spinach
    • cherry tomatoes
    • cucumbers
    • green onions
    • sweet mini bell peppers
    • Raspberry vinaigrette, ranch, creamy french, avocado ranch, and oil & vinegar

After dinner, we attended Christmas Eve service at Open Arms Church and came back with some early presents from Santa. Each child was able to open 1 present that Santa had dropped off early. They each received monogrammed red pajamas that they were able to put on immediately. When they came back downstairs, we all sat down and watched the Polar Express together. Everyone was so excited and it made me eager to see their reactions when they opened their envelopes containing the polar express tickets I made for them the next morning. After the kids went to bed, the hubby and a brother went to the airport to pick up the final wave of family joining us for Christmas. While waiting in the cell phone lot, they noticed a dog running around that appeared to be lost. They caught up to the dog and realized there were no identifying tags, however she was wearing a holiday collar and did not appear to be a stray. After getting her in the car, and picking up our guests, they came back home. The poor pup was really anxious but very well trained and groomed. We gave her food, water and a warm bed in order to provide her with as much comfort as we could since she was away from her family. The intention was to get her scanned in the morning for a chip.

Wednesday 25DEC – Christmas Day!!! Everyone was finally here!!! When everyone was awake, we all headed over to the clubhouse where all of the decorations, the stockings, the trees and the gifts were waiting. We had decided on booking the clubhouse to provide the space we would need for the day. It was PERFECT. Everyone had gifts to open, gifts to share and fun times to be had. The boys had wheeled over 2 grills to the clubhouse and breakfast was made there and at home in the kitchen. The hubby and I took the pup to a local vet hospital to have her scanned for a chip. Thankfully, she was chipped and within the hour, we were in contact with her family. We returned her to her home, wished them Merry Christmas and came back thankful and happy she was reunited with her family.

Breakfast: The boys took care of breakfast and it was amazing!

  • vegan & gluten free biscuits
  • vegan & gluten free gravy
  • regular sausage gravy
  • country potatoes w/ onions, garlic and peppers (vegan)
  • eggs
  • ┬ábacon
  • avocado
  • fresh fruit
    • bananas
    • apples
    • tangerines
    • blueberries
    • COFFEE

Lunch: Salads to balance out all of the stocking candy, cookies and sweets

  • giant mixed salad
    • Spring mix and baby spinach
    • cherry tomatoes
    • cucumbers
    • green onions
    • sweet mini bell peppers
    • Raspberry vinaigrette, ranch, creamy french, avocado ranch, and oil & vinegar

Dinner: Thanks to my amazing sister-in-law, she took over this whole process and allowed me to take some me time that day. Thanks to her, we had this amazing spread for dinner and I owe it all to her.

  • giant mixed salad
    • Spring mix and baby spinach
    • cherry tomatoes
    • cucumbers
    • green onions
    • sweet mini bell peppers
    • Raspberry vinaigrette, ranch, creamy french, avocado ranch, and oil & vinegar
  • vegan sweet potatoes casserole
    • sweet potatoes
    • marshmallows
    • plant based butter (almond)
    • spices
  • salted caramel spiral ham
  • vegan green beans almondine
  • vegan & gluten free mashed potatoes
  • gluten free gravy
  • Kings Hawaiian sweet rolls

After the kids all went to bed, the adults all stayed up, drank, played board games and made some amazing memories. I am blessed to have had such amazing people around me all week.

Thursday 26DEC – Today, we began to say good bye to the first wave of family leaving. We had our standard breakfast, and said our good byes. After that, my sisters-in law and I ran to the store to get stuff for Lunch. After Lunch, the plan was to head up to Williams for dinner at the restaurant and ride the Polar Express.

Breakfast:

  • left over vegan & gluten free biscuits
  • hashbrowns
  • eggs
  • bacon
  • avocado
  • fresh fruit
    • bananas
    • apples
    • tangerines
    • blueberries
    • COFFEE

Lunch:

  • Thai Curry Soup (made w/Vegan substitutes)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 red bell pepper, diced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • bok choy (chinese cabbage)
    • mushrooms
    • 2 russet potatoes
    • 3 tablespoons red curry paste
    • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
    • 6 cups vegetable broth
    • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
    • 1/2 (8-ounce) package rice noodles
    • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (if we’re ok with it not being vegan)
    • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
    • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
    • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
    • DIRECTIONS:
      Cook garlic, bell pepper, potato, bok choy and onion in olive oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
      Stir in red curry paste and ginger until fragrant, about 1 minute.
      Stir in vegetable broth and coconut milk, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
      Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced, about 10 minutes. Add in bok choy leaves.
      Stir in rice noodles, fish sauce and brown sugar until noodles are tender, about 5 minutes.
      Remove from heat; stir in green onions, cilantro, basil and lime juice; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
      Serve immediately.

Dinner:

  • Dinner at the Grand Depot Buffet

The Polar Express was awesome! Definitely recommend it if you have young children who enjoy train rides.

 

Friday 27DEC: Today was a rest and recover day since everyone else was leaving the next day. Meals were super simple today… kiddos played with their toys and took naps… adults vegged out and prepared for the next day.

Breakfast:

  • vegan pancakes
  • real maple syrup
  • blueberry syrup made from scratch
  • hashbrowns
  • fresh fruit

Snacks, salads and leftovers for the rest of the day.

 

All in all, a truly successful Christmas Family Gathering… one that my heart will remember for a long time. <3


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