holiday traditions

I want to preface this post by saying that this is not a bad problem to have in my life.

For each holiday that I head home to Connecticut I take so many pictures. I take pictures of the food, I take pictures of the tables, and I take pictures of the small details. Sometime around November 2014 I decided that it was no longer worth doing recap posts of how these holidays went. It’s not because the food wasn’t delicious, it’s not because I didn’t have a good time, and it’s not because I forgot to take pictures (surprisingly). It’s because every picture I take looks exactly the same.

Thanksgiving has always been at Aunt Lisa’s house. It is 4+ courses that always includes soup of some sort, manicotti, turkey and all the accoutrements, and then dessert. The glassware is always green, the food is always served out of the kitchen, and my plate is always heaping right after course three.

2015-04-08 ChrystinaNoel holidays - Thanksgiving

Christmas Eve is always at Aunt Mary’s house. It is 5+ courses that always consist of shrimp cocktail, pasta and crab sauce, crabs, seafood, and dessert. The tablecloths are always red, the first plates are always floral, the second plates are always green, and the food is always delicious.

2015-04-08 ChrystinaNoel holidays - Christmas

Easter is always at my mom’s house. It is 4+ courses which always include antipasto, manicotti, meat & vegetables, and dessert. The wine glasses always have royal blue stems, the meats and cheese are always laid out nicely across all the trays, there is always tomato and mozzarella, we use white dishes for serving, and the eggs always show in a white/marble colored dish with gold trim.

2015-04-08 ChrystinaNoel holidays - Easter

And I’m sure if I kept going back I would find even more pictures that mimic the ones above.

These are our traditions. These are the things that when you ask me about a holiday I vividly remember and could describe to you every detail. And I love them.

For the 2014-2015 holiday season I decided it wasn’t worth it to do holiday posts because if you’ve been reading for a while you’ve seen it all already. Maybe next year I’ll pick it back up again (after all, the photography does seem to keep getting better and I’m probablly definitely should-have-done-it-already replaced this post with something with better pictures – I’m sure that’s enticing you to click on that link) or maybe I just need to find a better angle. But in the meantime, in case you’re curious about how things are going, I did start an instagram hashtag #chrystinanoelholidays.

What are some of your holiday traditions? Do you always show up at the same house at the same time at the same place?

Or is this just an Italian thing?

a chocolate easter egg hunt

Hiding Chocolate Easter Eggs

As I’ve mentioned before, every year for Easter my sister and I have a chocolate easter egg hunt that we go on in the morning.  My mom usually hides 20 hershey kisses for each of us.

Apparently my mom said to herself this year, surely we’re not going to be doing the Easter egg hunt this year, Chrystina’s 25, that must be the cut off age.  Then I wrote this blog post last week and she realized this wasn’t the year.  She and my dad ended up hiding 3 sets of 28 mini chocolate eggs around the house.  1 set for my sister (green), 1 set for me (blue), and 1 set for my roommate (pink).  I never know how, but we somehow manage to find them all every year.  Actually, heres what usually happens.  We each find 90% of our own and then we know where the other 10% of everybody else’s eggs are hiding but you just can’t find your own.  Props where props are due – my sister actually won this year, it’s usually me, but I slacked this year.

The most ridiculous part of the whole thing is that once you find out where the eggs are it’s SO obvious.  Some of them are just right in plain site.  I swear my sister didn’t find the one sitting right on the piano until 15 minutes into the hunt.  Although, I’m not sure I’m allowed to say anything considering mine was sitting right behind a photograph.

I took pictures of the top 2 hidding places that stumped each of us.  Feel free to laugh.

Hiding Chocolate Easter Eggs (1)

Hiding Chocolate Easter Eggs (2)

Hiding Chocolate Easter Eggs (3)

Hiding Chocolate Easter Eggs (4)

Hiding Chocolate Easter Eggs (5)

Hiding Chocolate Easter Eggs (6)

table setting for easter

Setting the Easter Table 00

My roommate came home with me for Easter this year.  When we were planning the weekend and trying to figure out what to do she asked out loud, “oh, well can’t we go hiking on Sunday?” – well, actually, this wasn’t a possibility because even though Easter lunch didn’t start until 1:00pm, there was still plenty that needed to be done in the morning.  The two big items are the antipasto and setting the table.

Setting a table, you’re thinking to yourself, how long can that possibly take?  Well, let me tell you, every year I am shocked by how much longer it takes than I think it’s going to take.  (Which means that every year about an hour before the guests show up I think to myself, oh yeah, that’s why mom wanted to start doing this so early.)  All in all, I would tell you it takes about 3 hours to get it all right.

Here’s what our table setting process looks like.

Step 1: Put the extension on the table and cover it so the wood doesn’t ruin the tablecloth.

Setting the Easter Table 01

Step 2: Put the table cloth on the table and redistribute the chairs, definitely a 2-person job.

Setting the Easter Table 02

Step 3: Arrange the napkins, name cards, and individual decorations.

Setting the Easter Table 03

Step 4: Add the glasses and utensils.

Setting the Easter Table 04

Step 5: Add the Palm, the salt, and the pepper.

Setting the Easter Table 05

Step 6: Add the flowers.

Setting the Easter Table 06

Step 7: Add the food and the party.

Setting the Easter Table 07

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Alright, so there’s a slight chance my mother kills me for posting these pictures because the tablecloth doesn’t quite cover the table.  But it’s not her fault.  Because the table cloth has shrunk 4 inches from washing it.  We’re working on that for next year.  Also, a few more things –

1- Realize that there’s only one extension on this table.  Usually we have to put two, but this time we were only seventeen people.

2- Look at how cute the napkin rings my Aunt Lisa let us borrow were, (I found them on ebay, white ceramic country farm napkin ring holders set.)

Easter Table Napkin Rings

Also also, keep in mind there would usually be plates on the table, but the first course was buffet-style and we decided it would be easier if people just took their plates from the island.

Easter Buffet

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How long in advance do you start setting your table?  What order do you do things in?

easter activity ideas

Easter Activities and Games

Whether you have children or are a child at heart, there are so many games and activities to play at Easter.  It’s such a fun time – the weather has just gotten a bit warmer outside, everything’s turning green, and people are feeling fun and festive.  Here are some of the ideas that we’ve used with my cousins at our family events in the past:

The Egg Drop

My family has used an egg drop as the Easter activity for at least 5 years at this point. The majority of the people in my family think like engineers, so it was always an interesting competittion. In case you’re unaware – the idea behind an egg drop is that you need to be able to shelter and contain an egg as it is put through a series of tests – you know – dropped from shoulder level, dropped from above your head, rolled down the driveway, dropped from the deck, dropped from your parent’s 3-story bathroom window.

The first year we ever did this everybody built their egg containing contraption at home. The best devices were made using a) diapers, b) foam bath sponges, and c) straws.

After that, we realized that we were going to have to make the challenge harder. Over the course of the next few years we tried limiting the materials chosen, my mother choosing random items from around the house and building our device on the spot right the day of Easter, and working in teams.

The Boat Sink

One year we switched it up from the Egg Drop and made tin foil boats. Every cousin was given a sheet of tin foil of the same size and you needed to build a boat that was able to hold the most pennies. What does it have to do with Easter? I have no idea, but I guess you could use jellybeans instead of pennies and that would make it more festive. Also, clearly, I’m in a family of people who think like engineers if we do things like this for fun, huh?

Hidden Hersey Kisses

I did a post on this once, but this is probably one of my favorite Easter activities. Every year when I wake up my mother has hid 15-20 Hershey kisses around the house. I have one color kisses and my sister has another and we race to see who can find them all first. After many many years of this we know most of the secret hiding places, but every year my mom manages to find a new place. We’ll see what she’s able to come up wtih this year.

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I also checked on Facebook to see if anybody else had cool traditions. Lucky for y’all I heard two really great ideas – and I really want to try both of them.

Make a Bonnet

Rachael (@RamblingsByRach) posted saying that her family makes bonnets for Easter. It’s a contest and everybody needs to design a bonnet ahead of time and there are dollarstore prizes for all of the winners. I wonder if I could get my 6 male cousins onboard with this one…

Egg Fights

Alright, admittedly when I read this I thought that Victoria meant that she and her family throw raw eggs at each other, but it turns out I was totally wrong. It’s apparently a Polish tradition for two people to each hold a hardboiled egg and tap the end against the other person’s egg. The one whose egg cracks loses. This sounds like it could definitely be entertaining – and a good way to start the day. I definitely think I could talk my cousins into this one.

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Are there any other Easter traditions that you and your family have?  I’m always looking for more ideas to make my holiday more festive. Let me know! And happy hump day!