our tropical Christmas- a tour and link up

saipan christmas tour

saipan christmas tourY’all, I am so excited to share a little glimpse of our tropical Christmas today (and I can’t wait to see your Christmases as well!). Especially since this year’s Christmas looks a little different than our holidays in years past. In fact, if I had to describe our December so far in three words, they’d be tropical, relaxed and untraditional.

saipan christmas tourTo lay a little groundwork, I thought I’d start with a little Saipan-in-December tour. If you’ve never done winter on a tropical island (I’d guess that’s almost all of you- and we’re rookies too!), let me tell you, it’s the weirdest feeling ever. I keep trying to convince my body that it’s the holidays, but nothing is working… not constant Christmas music, not the lovely smell of evergreen candles (both of which are a daily occurrence)! Even celebrating Thanksgiving, which should’ve jump started things, didn’t do the trick. Since most of our traditions are a little out of reach this year, we’re trying to ‘make new memories.’ That translates into a whole December of snorkeling, beaching and pool days. Like I said, it’s been a month of untraditional (and relaxation).

saipan_christmasThe other most notable thing about Christmas in Saipan is that the politically correct transition to “Happy Holidays” hasn’t taken root here. Nativities are considered completely normal commercial holiday decor, and Burke’s class is singing Silent Night, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, O Little Town of Bethlehem and Joy to the World for the school Christmas program (it’s not a Christian school).

spam tree saipanAlso, there is a Christmas Tree o’ Spam at the local grocery store. Yep. There sure is.

saipan christmas tourOur decorations this year are also… well, beach-y and sparse are the best descriptors. Since we didn’t bring a single Christmas item with us when we moved here in June, every item of decor has been either purchased or created in the last few weeks.

saipan christmas tourI must admit, I pretty much love our gold tree with neutral ornaments (we collected drift wood, sea shells and coral to adorn the tree and picked up a couple boxes of metallic ornaments in Hong Kong last month). I’ve never had an all-the-way coordinated tree before. It’s kind of fun. The rest of our extra-sparse decor is also shimmery (most of it is recycled from Piper’s Sparkle Party– haha!).

saipan christmas tourAlso, lest you think that our presents are all perfectly coordinated, there is a pile of not-metallic, Amazon-wrapped gifts tucked in the back of the tree. Haha!

saipan christmas tourWe also made an advent countdown and some Names of God ornaments. Since our schedule is extra wide open this year, we also added in a more time intensive nightly devotional of Jesus Storybook Bible stories to match the ornaments. All four of us are loving the extra chance to focus on ‘preparing Him room.’ Even though we’ve totally dropped the ball several times already, I love the nights when we remember to add in this old-plus-new tradition.

saipan christmas tourThis holiday season really has been such a weird mix- we miss our families and winter and ALL of the Christmas things from home… and at the same time we’re loving the wide open schedule and mild weather and excess of family time. Most of all, though, I am trying to remind my heart at every turn that whether our Christmas is white and mountain-y and chaotic or mellow and beachy and tropical, this celebration of God sending his Son (his SON!) as a baby to redeem us is beyond worthy of my rapt attention… and in the nooks and crannies and wide open spaces of December, I am purposing to turn my heart towards Him in thanksgiving!

Sharing Christmas 2014

mary evelyn : what do you do dear  |  kacia : coconutrobot | shannon : the scribble pad
rachael : kincaid parade  | kristi : and babies don’t keep  |  heather boersma

Be sure to go say hi as my lovely co-hostesses share the sights and sounds and smells and traditions and vibes of their Christmases this year. And if you have a chance to snap a few pictures and share your Christmas (even just your advent activities or your favorite tradition or your Christmas tree), please take a minute to link up! We’d love to see how you’re celebrating this year! Happy Christmas, friends!

ornament advent countdown

An advent countdown, but with a twist- each ornament has a name of God written on it (there are accompanying devotions using the Jesus Storybook Bible for the names they chose)

December has snuck up on me this year. I finished up our advent ornament countdown this afternoon in fact. This is one of our favorite traditions, though, and we’re so excited to have a set of names of Christ advent ornaments here in Saipan. To make a new set, we cut a piece of drift wood into rounds, […]

30 minute advent calendar

the simplest-ever advent calendar (make a countdown using bags, free printable labels, and a tray)

It’s a little bittersweet to head into this holiday season without any of our normal ‘Christmas stuff.’ I do think that unpacking familiar boxes of ornaments, wreaths, and décor might help offset a little of the weirdness and homesickness that is settling in. But I also kind of like the way that having nothing is […]

how to spray paint an artificial christmas tree

This is the perfect way to give an old fake tree a new look (how to spray paint an artificial christmas tree)!

When we moved to Saipan in June, we brought six trunks of stuff with us. Things that made the bring-with-us cut? Clothes (not many, but I still wish I would’ve pared even more), Legos, a few of Piper’s dolls and purses, my sewing machine, a small bundle of fabric and a few party supplies. Nothing […]

fantastic (free!) outlined fonts

fabulous free outlined fonts

I love bubble fonts. They make me feel a little bit like I am making giant signs for student council in junior high (side note- isn’t it funny that junior high isn’t a thing anymore?). And since my mind is on all things back to school right now, I figured I should probably share some […]

no-dye easter egg ideas

White pen on brown eggs.

This week we have had a gloriously rainy week. In the desert this is not a common thing, so we are LOVING the week of cloudy skies, warm drinks, soup (more on that later) and crafts! My girls have been itching to dye easter eggs since we got a package from some sweet friends back […]

DIY bunny rabbit softies

DIY bunny softies

One of the highlights of my niece Josie’s ‘snow bunny’ party was the array of bunny rabbit softies that dotted the decor. These bunnies would make great Easter basket treasures and were fairly simple to put together (the most labor intensive part was embroidering the faces), so I thought I’d share the DIY process. I […]

free printable valentine- my whole heart for my whole life

free printable valentine

When I got married, I was young and naive and had no idea that I was making one of the most epic decisions of my whole life. I didn’t realize that marrying Adam would effect every. single. aspect of my life and change me in more ways than I can count. And even though I […]

free printable valentines- “you’re bow-tiful” labels

free printable valentines- you're 'bow-tiful' labels

Piper Jane chose bows as her Valentine goodies this year (well, for her girlfriends… for the boys, who probably won’t appreciate the bows as much, she’s going to borrow her Bubba’s idea and give bags of Legos). To make these Valentines, just put the bows (found in five packs for a couple dollars at Forever […]