10 Whole30 Holiday Recipes

Delicious Whole30 Thanksgiving and Christmas Recipes.

As the holidays approach, you’re probably already thinking about what to serve for dinner. Maybe you’re not hosting, but you’ve been asked to contribute a dish. Good food is a huge part of celebrating the holidays for me, but I also know that I feel so much better when I avoid certain foods. So this year I’m trying to find a balance of traditional and Whole30 holiday recipes for the holidays.

There are so many delicious Whole30 recipes to choose from. If you’re not familiar with the Whole30, you can read more about my experience here and here. Keep in mind that many of these recipes also fit Paleo guidelines, either as is or with some minor substitutions.

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Breakfast

We typically skip lunch and eat an earlier dinner on major holidays. A delicious and filling breakfast is essential to hold us off until appetizers are ready. I assure you this breakfast casserole is super yummy! Do some of the prep the night before to save time in the morning.

Breakfast Casserole

Sweet Potato Hash

Appetizers

It’s always good to have something to nibble on while dinner is cooking, especially if you have guests. Here are some tasty snack options on the healthier side.

Baked Zucchini Cups

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Healthy Carrot Fries with Curry Dipping Sauce

Main Dishes

Roasted Turkey 

Rosemary & Garlic Roast Beef (Substitute ghee for butter to stick to Whole30 rules.)

Sides

I love holiday side dishes almost more than the main event sometimes. Potatoes are my jam, you guys, but often it’s the carb-heavy sides that get the attention this time of year. I want to be sure to have some tasty vegetable options as well.

Crispy Roasted Broccoli

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts (If you’re doing the W30, be sure to use sugar-free bacon.)

Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots & Almonds

Desserts

If you’re following a strict Whole30, you already know the bad news. Whole30-friendly desserts do not conform to the spirit of the program. Eating pie is eating pie, even if it’s made using substitutions that technically adhere to Whole30 rules. If you’re going to stay compliant over a major holiday, first of all, I’m super impressed. That takes some serious discipline and dedication. If you don’t want to feel left out during dessert, try some fresh fruit with a dollop of coconut cream.

If you’re more about eating the Whole30 way in general and not sticking to the program 100%, here are a few Paleo dessert options.

Classic Paleo Pumpkin Pie via Paleo Running Momma

Paleo Pumpkin Cake with Maple Frosting via Paleo Gluten Free Eats

Toasted Marshmallow S’more Tart via Against All Grain

Paleo Apple Pie via Bakerita

You can also find all these Whole30 holiday recipes on my Thanksgiving Recipe board here!

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Printable Kids Valentines

Valentine’s day is one of those holidays that sneaks up on me every year. All of a sudden we’re frantically trying to scrape together the kids’ valentines for their classmates, and it’s anything but fun. If you’re looking for free, printable Valentine’s Day cards, I’ve got you covered! One of my kiddos can’t bring any edible treats this year and the other can only bring non-candy so I stuck with mostly non-food options.

A round-up of free, printable kids valentines.

Non-food valentines

Abby from Just a Girl & Her Blog shared five days of her own printable valentines, and these lego-themed cards are adorable. They would be cute enough on their own, but attaching the mini block set is an extra treat. She also shared a cute idea for a teacher gift and other cute printable card options.

A round-up of free, printable kids valentines.

I absolutely love these coloring page bookmark valentines from Gina at Kleinworth & Co. Your kiddo could color them for their friends or leave them as is so friends get a card and activity in one.

A round-up of free, printable kids valentines.

Aly at What Moms Love created these cute valentine cards that are perfect if you don’t want to spend a ton on an added treat. You can get a bag of mini erasers in the Target dollar section right now that would go perfectly.

A round-up of free, printable kids valentines.

I love these dino-mite valentines from Kelly at Hello Design Meet Life. They’re bright and colorful and you can easily find an inexpensive pack of mini dinosaurs to go with them. It might be a tough choice between these and the lego theme above for my kindergartener!

A round-up of free printable kids valentines.

If you have a kiddo who loves all things Harry Potter, then these freebies from Amanda at A Few Shortcuts will be a big hit for Valentine’s Day. I love that she taped a glow bracelet “wand” to the cards as an extra touch.

A round-up of free, printable kids valentines.

Another great non-food option is this bubble valentine design from Heather at Passion for Savings. You can find bulk packs of bubbles for pretty cheap in the party section of Target or at Party City.

A round-up of free, printable kids valentines.

I couldn’t have a round-up of valentines without a Star Wars option! Megan from Wit & Wander created these adorable valentine cards that are perfect for the wannabe Jedi in your life.

A round-up of free, printable kids valentines.

Food/candy valentines

Landee from Landeelu created these super fun emoji valentines! If you have a no-candy rule in your class, you could substitute heart shaped erasers for the chocolates.

A round-up of free, printable kids valentines.

Amanda at The Gracious Wife designed some really cute fishbowl valentines. You could stick with goldfish or use fish-shaped erasers for a non-edible treat.

A round-up of free, printable kids valentines.

If you’re looking for a healthy treat for your kids to share on Valentine’s Day, then these cutie valentines from Autumn at It’s Always Autumn are a great option. I appreciate that these are simple enough for my kids to do the bulk of the assembly.

A round-up of free, printable kids valentines.

I’m so appreciative of all the creators who offer these cute designs for free. It’s fun to check out all the options. Now we just need to buckle down and get our valentines made before Tuesday!

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10 Days of Advent: Day Seven

The kids have been out of school for all of four days so let’s take a survey. How many of you have kids who have already said “I’m bored” at least once?? In spite of all the excitement of Christmas coming, the reality is that there are a lot more hours in the day to fill when school’s out. My kids are in a stage of life where they’re having a hard time getting along. I can only play referee for so long before I’m a frazzled mess so craft time is a great way to keep everyone busy and happy.

Bring the message of Advent home this holiday season. Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas as a family.

Do a holiday craft together

One thing that I love about Christmas crafts is the pride our kids feel when they look at the decorations in our home. I love love love browsing all the beautiful Christmas home tours online and find great inspiration for my own decor. But amidst the styled shelves in our home, you’ll also find things made by our kiddos. It gives them a sense of ownership to see their hard work displayed alongside the rest of my carefully-chosen decor items.

Craft projects can be as complex or simple as time, supplies and interest allows. Here are some great options to try with your family this season.

Lego Ornaments 

If you’re house is anything like ours, legos can be found in any room at any given time. Why not put those little blocks to good use?! Sarah at Frugal Fun for Boys & Girls has instructions for several Christmas-themed lego projects so there’s a lot of possibility for your little master builders.

Celebrate Advent as a family by doing a Christmas craft together.

Salt Dough Ornaments

Salt dough is an easy project and the options are endless. You can leave them plain for a simple look or paint them to create more detail. This snowman ornament from Michelle at Crafty Morning would be great for my 8 year old, who gets really involved in her craft projects. My 5 year old would do better using cookie cutters to make the basic shape and adding detail with paint. *Just remember that salt dough needs to bake for 2-3 hours and cool before it can be decorated.

Celebrate Advent as a family with a fun Christmas craft.

Recycled Box Village

Most of us probably have plenty of boxes in our recycling bin, as well as wrapping paper laying around. Bettijo from Paging Supermom combines the two for a cute Christmas craft. Kids can decorate however they want and then set up their town for some pretend play. Get those lego figures involved and this could become a Christmasy Star Wars masterpiece 😉

Celebrate Advent as a family with a fun Christmas craft.

You can check out day one of the Advent series here and catch up on any days that you’ve missed. You can use or adapt the ideas based on what works best for your family.

What are your favorite crafts to do with your little ones during the holiday season??

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Three Ways the Elf on the Shelf Can Teach the True Meaning of Christmas

All you have to do is type “elf on the shelf” into the Pinterest search bar and you’ll find thousands of clever, crafty and hilarious ideas for this notorious holiday mischief-maker. We first introduced the Elf on the Shelf in our home when our daughter was 3. While the kids look forward to the return of our elf with great anticipation, my opinion has changed a bit over the years.

elfonshelf

I first thought of the Elf as a fun Christmas tradition with the side benefit of encouraging good behavior. As the years have passed, I’ve started to worry that the Elf might be a hindrance to the message we really want our kids to hear during the Christmas season. While it’s natural for little ones to focus on presents and the magic of Santa Claus, we also want them to remember the real reason that we celebrate Christmas… the birth of Jesus.

Even if Christmas isn’t about celebrating Jesus in your family, I doubt that your hope for the holidays is that your kids spend a month focused on how many presents they’ll get and what’s in it for them. The holiday season is such a meaningful time of year because so many people turn their attention outward and focus on the happiness and needs of others. So how do we shift our kids’ attention from “behaving so the Elf won’t report them to Santa” to seeing the importance of caring for others?

1. your elf can bring a box for donating toys

For the past few years, our Elf has arrived on December 1st with a large cardboard box and a letter from Santa. The letter instructs the kids to fill the box with unwanted toys and books so that they can be delivered to less fortunate children. Right off the bat, we’re showing them that Christmas is about more than just getting presents and whether you’re naughty or nice. This is a great start, but this year our Elf is stepping up his game with some additional encouragement like the next idea.

2. Your Elf can deliver notes encouraging random acts of kindness

Anna at The Imagination Tree developed an Elf on the Shelf alternative called The Kindness Elves, which encourages children to do kind things for others each day during the holiday season. We’re already into the dance with our Elf so he’ll be the one bringing notes for our kids this year. Over the Big Moon has some great printable cards for the Elf to deliver with ideas such as “Write a letter to someone special telling them why you love them!”

3. Your elf can bring Advent messages sharing the Bible account of Jesus’ birth

I love these printable verse cards created by Julie from The Happy Home Fairy. They are the perfect size for the Elf to deliver! I also really like the idea of incorporating the Bible verses into the daily discovery of the Elf. I’m thinking I might use the back of the cards to write out our daily suggestion for an act of kindness.

I’m excited for some new ways to help our Elf share the true meaning of Christmas with our sweet little ones. We still get all the fun that this tradition brings with the added bonus of reminding our family why we celebrate in the first place.

Do you want your family to focus on the true meaning of Christmas this season? Here are three ways you can use your Elf on the Shelf to teach the real Christmas message.

 

{Linking to Tutorials & Tips, the Inspiration Gallery, the Creative Gallery}

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Favorite Christmas Movies

In our family, Thanksgiving is the official kickoff of the Christmas season. We don’t listen to Christmas music, watch Christmas movies, or decorate the house until after Thanksgiving. Watching my favorite movies throughout the holiday season is one of the things I enjoy most. It’s not like I’m going to watch Elf in April, so it’s a treat reserved for this special time of year. In no particular order, here are my top ten, tried and true favorite Christmas movies.

Are you ready for the holiday season? These 10 movies are sure to get you ready to celebrate.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my full disclosures here.

Home Alone

I know I said “in no particular order,” but technically Home Alone ranks at the top. It’s a little weird because the movie itself doesn’t have that much to do with Christmas, but because I grew up only watching it during the holidays, it feels Christmas-y to me. My sister and I always watched it on Thanksgiving, and now that we live in different cities, we still try to watch it together when we’re together before Christmas.

The Family Stone (for adults)

This one is perfect for when I want to experience all the holiday feels. Apart from the very awkward dinner scene (which I sometimes skip) there are so many endearing moments in The Family Stone. It gets you with all the quirks that come with being part of a family, the pain of love that’s not quite right and the subtle sweetness of love that is right.

Elf

Do I even need to explain this one?! Will Ferrell as an elf in a way that only Will Ferrell could possibly be an elf. It’s corny in the ways that all Christmas movies should be and it makes you revel in the joy of the Christmas spirit. I cry every time the people singing in the park make Santa’s sleigh fly. Plus there are so many perfectly quotable lines! You know you’re thinking of one right now.

Miracle on 34th Street

I love this movie. There’s a remake, but don’t watch it until you’ve watched the original. Kris Kringle is working at Macy’s during the holiday season, ends up in some trouble and a lawyer has to prove to a New York City court that he is the real Santa Claus. If you’ve always thought this one was just an old movie, you need to give it a chance because it’s a classic.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (for adults & older kids)

I’m not even sure how old I was the first time I watched Christmas Vacation, but probably too young to get a lot of the best jokes. Chevy Chase kills me. If for some reason you’ve never watched this because you thought the other Lampoon movies were ridiculous and stupid, then you need to give it a chance. This one is so much better than the others.

The Santa Clause

Again with all the feels. Tim Allen brings a certain level of cheese, but the overall message is so sweet that I can get past some mediocre jokes. My oldest has started to question the existence of Santa Claus and I really want her to watch this one this year, but I worry that some aspects of the movie might confuse her more. The verdict’s still out on whether the kids get to see it, but I’m watching it for sure.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This is another instance where I prefer the original to the remake. The song alone makes this version superior, but there’s also something nice about just sticking to the Dr. Seuss story as it was meant to be told. While the Jim Carrey remake is certainly creative, there’s too much other stuff going on to really get the point.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

This is one of our family favorites. It’s a charming story (originally aired in 1970) of how Santa Claus came to be. It answers many of the most common questions about Santa – why does he come down the chimney? Why do we hang stockings? It’s narrated by Fred Astaire and has some great songs to accompany the storyline. My kids always look forward to watching it together.

The Polar Express

Based on the popular book of the same name, The Polar Express is a vividly imaginative cartoon depiction of a boy riding a train to the North Pole. The book is fantastic, but in this case, I actually felt like the extra storyline in the movie actually added to the original story. Tom Hanks does a wonderful job as the voice of multiple characters in the movie, giving each just the right touch of magic and the animation is really well done.

Love Actually (for adults)

So again, this movie isn’t technically that much to do with Christmas, but it takes place during the five or six weeks leading up to Christmas. Following the stories of several interconnected characters, you get a lot of funny moments and some of the feely-feels too. It’s one of those movies that just makes you feel good.

There are so many good Christmas movies to choose from. What are your favorites??

 

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