Author Archives: Mary

Spreading Smiles to Service Members

As you have probably noticed, we here at the North Pole are on a mission to spread Christmas cheer. One of the ways we like to do that is by sharing about good deeds that people do. In a world where we’re inundated with heartbreaking news and unfathomable disasters, it’s refreshing to see acts of kindness, such as those done by Operation Gratitude, an organization on a mission to spread smiles to service members, military families, and veterans.

Operation Gratitude

For most of us, the holiday season brings great joy and treasured time with loved ones, but for those in the armed forces, the holidays can often feel bittersweet when families are separated. So imagine the happiness and hope they would feel upon receiving handmade gifts and handwritten cards from complete strangers! These items (and many more) are what Operation Gratitude includes in the care packages they send out every year. Talk about spreading cheer—now that’s a cause we can get behind!

Read on to learn how you can get involved with Operation Gratitude.


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Category: Charities

Etsy Item of the Day: Printable Christmas Charades

Earlier today, I shared a few ways to have fun as a family the old-fashioned way­—without electronics. Since I’m pretty passionate about families spending time together without craning their necks over screens, I was delighted to find this printable game of Christmas charades. For a mere two dollars, you can download and print this game from your home computer. The digital file comes with 32 different prompts as well as 8 blank cards so you can create your own prompts.
Printable Christmas Charades

Etsy Seller: Old Market

What charade prompts would you write on the blank cards? Let me know in the comments below!

This post contains affiliate links. Please see our full disclosure here.

Make Time to Unplug This Christmas

A couple of weeks ago when a big snowstorm swept through the area, some friends of mine lost power, so my husband and I welcomed them into our home for the night. Shortly after our friends arrived, our internet and cable connection went out. Later that night, we lost power! Despite losing our modern conveniences, we still had a good time together, and it reminded me of this Waitrose ad I saw earlier this season.

The folks in the ad were trapped in an inn due to a storm, and despite the inconvenient situation, they managed to enjoy the time together. I imagine it was uncomfortable at first, seeing as most of them were strangers to each other, but then they made the best of the moment and connected with each other. Isn’t funny how at the end of the video when they finally have the chance to leave, they choose to stay? (I’m sure all the food had something to do with it!) In the same way, when we lost power at my house a fortnight ago, it forced us all to get off our phones, tablets, and computers and really be present.

This Christmas, I invite you to take a “tech sabbath.” Resist the urge to pull out your phone and instead engage with those around you. Whether you’re spending time with loved ones you see daily or only once a year, make this Christmas one where you unplug. Afraid you’ll be bored? Here are some ideas to help you get ready ahead of time.

Activities & Games:

  • Pull a few board games out of the closet so they’re nearby whenever someone wants to play. My favorites right now are Sequence, 7 Wonders, and Quirkle.
  • Create a reading nook. Put books and magazines in a basket and set it in a corner with pillows and blankets.
  • Set out a few extra blankets on the sofa for folks to snuggle up.
  • Print out activity worksheets and coloring pages. Set them in a basket with pencils and crayons for the kiddos.
  • Round up crossword puzzle books, word search books, Sudoku books, etc. If you have a lot of family, you may want to have several books on hand. I like to scoop them up at the dollar store.
  • Play “I Spy.” This game usually entertains my nieces and nephews for 30 minutes.
  • Play Tic-Tac-Toe. If 3×3 games are too easy for you, play a 4×4 or a 5×5 game instead! Put a stack of white copy paper in a basket or bin with pencils so you’re ready to play.
  • Tell knock-knock jokes.
  • For creative folks, keep a couple skeins of yarn in a basket under a coffee table. When inspiration strikes, you can make festive pompoms with just yarn and scissors.
  • If the kids are getting restless, head outside to play a game of tag or hide and seek.
  • If the kids are getting too loud or rowdy, try playing Sleeping Alligators. To play, the kids must lay on the floor without talking or moving. The goal is to be the one who “sleeps” the longest. If a player moves or make a noise, they’re out of the game. Note: I find that this game doesn’t last very long, as kids are quite squirmy, but it does provide a brief quiet moment!

Conversation Starters:

  • Ask basic questions such as: How’s life? Your job? Your family?
  • Do you any upcoming travel plans?
  • What was your favorite part of this past year?
  • What are looking forward to in the new year?
  • What’s your favorite thing to do?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What’s something you’ve always dreamed of doing?
  • If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
  • If you could be an animal, what would you be?

How are you planning to unplug this Christmas? What fun games or activities does your family like to do together? Let me know in the comments below!


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Category: Family Fun

Holiday Essential Oil Blends

A few years ago, I started using essential oils because I wanted to replace conventional air fresheners (that often contain toxic chemicals) with more natural fragrances. After trying several essential oils over the past couple years, I’m in love and use them on a daily basis! I frequently have my diffuser running with various blends when I’m feeling sick, battling a headache, or need to relax and de-stress. During the holiday season, I especially enjoy blends that fill my home with a warm and cozy scent. Take a peek at the infographic below for some ideas for seasonal sniffs!
Holiday Essential Oils Blends

Click on the image for a closer look! Infographic via

Important Tips for Newbies:

If you’re new to essential oils, there are a few things you need to know before diving in:

  • Get Pure Oils: While there are many oils on the market, many of the lower-priced ones are usually not pure (!) and may even be cut with filler oils. (Ew!) Therefore, I recommend only purchasing high quality essential oils such as doTERRA, Young Living, or Rocky Mountain Oils.
  • Pet Safety: Not all essential oils are safe for pets, so take a few minutes to read up on what oils are safe to use around your furry friends.
  • Application Safety: Just because essential oils are natural that doesn’t mean that they are safe to use however you want. Some essential oils are safe to inhale (via a diffuser), but they may not be safe to apply topically or use internally. Always, always, ALWAYS exercise caution, and when in doubt, educate yourself on how to properly use an oil.
  • Less is More: Essential oils are very concentrated, so you don’t need to use a lot. When creating a blend from the image above, one drop of each oil should be plenty. If your diffuser is in a large room, start with just 3 drops total, then add more if needed.

Which essential oil blend is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

Etsy Item of the Day: Carved Christmas Candle

A few months ago, I stumbled upon Primacandle’s Instagram account and was immediately mesmerized by her videos showing how she carves candles. First the candle is dipped in vats of colored wax. Then while the wax is still pliable, it is cut and twisted to create the intricate design you see here. This particular candle features traditional Christmas colors, and you can find many more candles in various colors in her Etsy shop. Any of these candles would be perfect for one’s home and a great gift for a candle lover!
Carved Christmas Candle

Etsy Seller: Primacandle

This post contains affiliate links. Please see our full disclosure here.

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