When you are missing those festive weeks traipsing around the parks of Disney, it's easy to develop the home-for-the-holidays blues. Some might distract themselves with other types of holiday activities; others might find solace in denial and pretend they aren't missing their favorite season in the happiest place on earth. Myself? I like to bring a little bit of Disney into my holidays and bring a piece of that special park magic home.
Now, this isn't like regular Disney decorating; you all know I wonder where that fine line is between enjoying the magic in the parks and losing its sparkle by recreating it all at home. But, when it comes to the holiday season, all bets are off. Up goes my 10-foot Christmas tree, in all its perfect artificial glory (remember it is over 100 degrees in Australian summer during the holidays), complete with an ornament from each of our adventures and an FAO Schwartz train that runs around the base. So, what else can you do to bring the Disney spirit into your holiday festivities?
These days, just about any food can be made in the shape of Mickey Mouse. Use cookie cutters and pancake shapers to transform anything from cheese slices to finger sandwiches into fun shapes that reflect your love of all things mouse!
Did you know that Disney pretzels are actually incredibly easy to make? They might not seem like the perfect choice for your holiday party; however, if you roll the dough very thin and make your mickey shape as small as possible, they can be great to serve with dips in place of crackers.
Or, mix up your flavors and serve them full-sized, garlic, herb, and parmesan cheese variations always go down well in my house.
If you have older children, hand them the dough and leave the shaping to them. My two enjoy making these, and they do a pretty good job too!
When I was younger, one of my favorite holiday activities was wrapping presents while taking in the daytime television offerings of talk shows I usually never saw. Summer holidays had begun, which meant six weeks off of school as one school year rolled into the next and nothing to do but go to the beach and enjoy a bit of festive spirit. One that will never be forgotten was the Martha Stewart Christmas Special on Oprah in the mid-'90s. That was when my sister, Casey, and I were introduced to a little thing called the cookie tree.
If you never caught the special, the cookie tree is a small artificial tree that you lace with lights before covering in decorations made from gingerbread; each one hung with ribbon, leaving you with an edible decoration for guests to snack on come dessert time. For a Disney twist, use a Mickey-shaped cookie cutter and string your decorations using red ribbons for a bit of color.
Create the Atmosphere
Add a bit of Disney flair to your environment with the perfect playlist on Spotify. Whether you want to select something with authentic character voices or go with a more classical take on musical stylings for your gathering, Spotify has lots of great playlist options, or you can tailor-make your own to suit your crowd.
If there is one thing that Disney knows how to do, it is to subtly entice your senses with the fragrances of baked goods, far away lands, or the essence of nature itself. Find the right scent that reminds you of your happy place and make sure you incorporate it into your room spray or your cooking. The Magic Candle Company can help you find the right scent that reminds you of your Walt Disney World home away from home.
Keep the Kids Busy
If your kids need to keep their hands busy, buy a roll of character wrapping and cut strips for them to make daisy chain decorations for rooms, archways, doorframes, etc.
Don't forget you can also download your favorite characters in printable coloring or mazes, crosswords, find-a-words, all accessible online. A quick Google search can give you hundreds of options to keep the kids entertained.
Watch a Christmas Favorite on Disney +
Disney+ is now offering most of my favorite Christmas movies all in one place. The Santa Clause, The Santa Clause 2, The Santa Clause 3 as well as Home Alone and Home Alone 2 are all just a few clicks away!
Give Back to your Community
Part of the Disney spirit is giving back to those less fortunate than ourselves and our community in general. Find a local giving tree or a charity that means something to your family and make a donation or spend some time helping out.
This year, in the wake of our local bushfire disaster in Sydney, my children have decided that instead of buying each other presents, they are donating the money in the other's name to local charities. It's an idea they came up with entirely on their own, and they are so excited to be giving back instead of collecting more things. On Christmas morning, they will open their "gift" to find out which charity theirs was donated to.
Give the Gift of Travel
Yep, you guessed it, my last suggestion to bring the Disney magic home these holidays is to embrace the traveling lifestyle and start planning your next adventure. It doesn't matter if you are looking at 2020, 2021 or 2022, making a plan and sticking to it will help you get where you want to go, and involving the whole family is the first step to achieving your goal as a team. That may mean contributing any money that would have been spent on gifts for each other into the travel fund, which makes it essential for the whole family to commit to the cause.
However you celebrate the holidays, be safe, find happiness and celebrate your achievements for the year, even if that only includes surviving the struggles this time around. From mine to yours: Happy Holidays, my friends.