Festive Fun

By Ashley McIlwain

For anyone that knows my husband, Steve, and me, they know that we are somewhat obsessive over Christmas. We love everything about Christmas, and we just can’t celebrate the season enough! Twinkling lights, soft scarves and mittens, time with family, familiar Christmas melodies, gingerbread cookies, the birth of our Savior (not in that order) … what’s not to love?!

While controversial to some, we get a jump on celebrating Christmas by decorating as soon as Halloween is over. That’s right, this year, our home (minus our Christmas tree because we get a live one) got its festive facelift on the first weekend of November. Before you roll your eyes, throw your hands up in protest, or point a finger, hear me out.

We don’t ignore or overlook Thanksgiving. In fact, we feel like Thanksgiving is the perfect prelude to Christmas, and we love taking time to gather round the overstuffed table giving thanks for God’s goodness in our lives. But here’s the thing, how can you say it’s wrong to want to relish the one time a year that everyone seems just a bit friendlier … that joy is a frequent visitor of … that celebrates purpose, hope, and the ultimate gift in Jesus Christ … that brings people together?

For us, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, and we just can’t contain our excitement and love for it … so we don’t. And we don’t apologize for it. This year, we decided to tackle a few festive and fun activities together. First, we finally made a gingerbread house together. This has been an item on Steve’s Christmas to do list since I met him, so this year we made it a priority and a reality. We gathered up a bunch of candy and went to town on our beautiful, brown cottage of sugar and spice. It was fun to work as a team, and yet, we both left our distinctive marks.

The second activity we took on was hand-painting a nativity set that my sister bought us a couple years ago. We (mainly me) underestimated how involved and time-consuming this project was, but we really had a blast. My husband was such a good sport about it, and I loved seeing his finished products. At the end of it all, we were left with what we like lovingly refer to as “Our Family Heirloom” since we spent so much time on it. This is one of those things that will be forced on generations to come.

We laughed, concentrated, and sipped on hot cider while making precious memories together that will truly last a lifetime.

Have any of you done any festive and fun activities so far? Do you have any planned? Do tell 🙂

Author :

Ashley McIlwain, MA, LMFTA is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate who received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University and her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with a Specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy from Azusa Pacific University. Ashley is the Founder and CEO of Foundation Restoration, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which offers a wide range of resources committed to helping relationships thrive. Believing that marriage is the foundation of society, she passionately utilizes her non-profit, therapy, speaking engagements, and writing to prepare, nurture, salvage, and encourage healthy, strong marriages from a biblical perspective. Her past experience includes partnering with Moody Publishers and Dr. Gary Chapman as Managing Editor to launch and develop a website focused on premarital preparation. Her areas of focus include premarital, marital, and individual therapy working through life transitions, relational issues, personal growth, boundaries, restoration, depression, and anxiety. She is certified as a Prepare & Enrich Facilitator, SYMBIS Facilitator, and is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors as well as the AACC Marriage & Family Division and AAMFT. Ashley loves connecting with, helping, and encouraging people professionally and personally. Her heart is to support those hurting and help them to feel understood, cared for, and hopeful on their path to healing.

4 Responses to “Festive Fun”

  • Meredith Says:

    I love reading all that you and your husband do. You are very inspiring! As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post we started a bit early as well to be sure we soak up lots of Christmas before and after our trip! We cut down our tree on Sunday with Scott’s mom, it was truly one of my most favorite memories. We rode a horse-drawn wagon and the snow was falling and kids were laughing and pointing at the horses, families and couples were all around. It was magical. We’ve been decorating the tree in phases this year and really just enjoying the process. We plan to tackle our simplified Christmas shopping within the next two weekends. This weekend we will go to a town here in the Balitmore area to gaze at Christmas lights. We too LOVE the lights and decorations. The homeowners go above and beyond, top to bottom with these lights. We have never been so we are really excited to take in the wonder of this joyous time of year!

    • Meredith Says:


    • Ashley McIlwain Says:

      Thank you so much Meredith! That’s so sweet of you to say; my hubs and I definitely try to keep things fun around here 🙂 Your tree excursion sounds amazing!! How fun to get to ride a horse-drawn wagon; I’ve never done that before. That sounds so much fun! You reminded me with your talk of visiting the Baltimore area to look at Christmas lights to go to one of our favorite areas out here and do that. We like to get a coffee or hot chocolate and walk around looking at them. It’s a simple yet fun date night. Thanks for the reminder 🙂 Sounds like you guys are making the most of this time of year; I love it! Thanks for sharing!