Episode #64: (MINI) Our Holiday Traditions

Hi! It’s our holiday traditions episode!

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Show Notes:

-Who remembers puppy surprise? Here’s the TV commercial from 1991.

-Um, holy shit. You all have to watch this old Martha Stewart Kmart commercial. IT IS GOLD.

-Here’s a link to the David’s Tea advent that Emma loves.

-Here’s a link to Emma’s Oreo truffles.

-Here’s a link to the Christmas tree train that I customized.

Thanks so much to Grove Collaborative for sponsoring this episode!

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Episode 63 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast, if you followed us for really any length of time then you know we go hard for holiday traditions and we absolutely will take any opportunity to get festive. Today, we’re sharing a few of our favorite traditions from our childhoods, as well as some that we’ve created on our own. The more traditions, the merrier, we say.

Elsie: Aw yeah, holiday traditions episode.

Emma: (singing) Holidays, celebrate!

Elsie: So most of you know that we are sisters and we grew up together. We are two and a half years apart. So most of our childhood…

Emma: Elsie’s older! (laughs)

Elsie: (laughs) Oh my God, Emma hate sit when people ask us which one is older.

Emma: I really do. I’m like, it’s obvious, isn’t it? (laughs) No…

Elsie: I know. I told Nova that someday people won’t be able to tell who’s the big sister and little sister. And she didn’t believe me.

Emma: Yeah, well, at the moment it’s pretty easy to tell with them. But when you get older, actually, it’s hard to tell. So…

Elsie: OK, so let’s take a time machine and talk about some of the most magical memories from our childhood.

Emma: Okay.

Elsie: One of my favorite memories of my childhood, I was just thinking about like because holiday gifts, it’s so magical. And our parents worked really hard and our Christmas mornings were like so epic. And now I feel like, how do I make my tree look like it has as many gifts as my parents made it look like? Like, you know what I mean, like…

Emma: We should get our mom’s tips and turn it into a blog post. (laughs)

Elsie: Good. Yeah, good point. Or maybe it looks like more since I was a little kid, but now when I set out all the gifts, I’m like, oh, I should have bought more. (laughs) Like it’s like. It’s like totally. Yeah. To make it like that big epic tree you have to buy a lot of stuff.

Emma: Maybe the key is having three kids. Maybe you need one more kid.

Elsie: I do need one more kid. Actually, we’re going to take a poll. How many people think I should have either one or two more kids because I’m having a month where I want that and next month I’ll be like, never mind. So…

Emma: Yeah, we’ll see.

Elsie: It goes around and around, too. Anyway, so one of my favorite memories is do you all remember Puppy Surprise? So Puppy Surprise is a toy from the nineties where you get this cute little stuffed doll and then there’s a Velcro on the doll’s stomach and there’s puppies inside of it, little bean bag puppies. And the surprise is how many puppies you get. And I got two puppies and Emma got five puppies. And…

Emma: And that is a lesson in karma.

Elsie: (laughs) And boy, was that disappointing.

Emma: I’m sure Mom was like, oh, no!

Elsie: I know! (laughing) Because you can’t see what’s in there!

Emma: No, it’s not like they bought you one that had less puppies. They wouldn’t have done that.

Elsie: I know.

Emma: It’s a surprise!

Elsie: And I was such a little turd, and so I always remember that. And it’s sort of like an illustration of our childhood because Emma was always like, she was like more adorable than me. She was like a blond little girl with blue eyes. And I was like a little…

Emma: I’m an enneagram 9. I don’t do anything. I’m just like “I’m happy with anything I get”, you know, like that kind of kid. So.

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: Yeah. That’s why the universe gave me five puppies.

Elsie: It was. And I was like, do you want to share some of those puppies with me? And she was like, yes.

Emma: I was like, I don’t remember. Probably I did because I was scared. (laughs)

Elsie: Yeah, it is a lesson in karma. And I think it also just like shows our like, future in a way of you being like gracious and me being a little bitch.

Emma: I don’t know about that, but thanks. I do love though, all the kids toys because toys are like the where it’s kind of like a surprise. I feel like this is a torture for the parents…but it’s so fun. Like kids get so excited to be like, see what what color they got or how many or whatever it is like, remember when you got Penny that hatchable? Was that’s what it’s called?

Elsie: The Hatchimals.

Emma: The Hatchimals, yeah.

Elsie: A couple of years ago that was the whole thing and Jeremy and I got one from Craigslist…

Emma: Parking lot.

Elsie: …the night before Christmas.

Emma: Black market kids. It’s like Dwight Schrute with those unicorn toys. (laughs)

Elsie: (gasp) Oh my gosh. Yes. Like Princess Unicorn, that was funny. That was a good episode.

Emma: Ok, so mine from childhood is one that Elsie participated in too. So we used to go to this church growing up where they put on a live nativity scene. And when you were like in the youth group, you could partic- or if you’re an adult, you could participate in the live nativity scene. So it was that like the fairgrounds…

Elsie: Yeah like paint the picture so they can see what it’s like.

Emma: It’s outside, so…and it’s December. So we’re from the Midwest, so it’s pretty cold. Usually it wasn’t snowy, but it’s very cold. Like you’re definitely wearing like boots with two pairs of socks and very warm clothes…

Elsie: Those little hot pocket things that you hold…

Emma: Hot hands. That are full of chemicals and then everyone just throws them away. But anyway, so yeah. So it’s very cold. But you’re with all your friends from Youth Group and it’s just a live, like over a big speaker system, they’re telling the story of Jesus being born. And everybody plays a different little part, like I was usually a traveler.

Elsie: Our dad like sat in the trailer where they sang the songs.

Emma: Yeah, he was in the choir and it was warm in there. But I couldn’t sing. So we’re like, you know, out and about. I feel like, did you get to be Mary one time and ride on the donkey? There’s like a real donkey.

Elsie: No, I didn’t. But like, the cool job to do was to be in the harem. So I was usually in the harem.

Emma: Oh yeah.

Elsie: I was quite cool.

Emma: Yeah, that is pretty cool. I was really a traveler. So you’re like going to the Inn and that’s why there’s not enough room at the inn. It’s because of you, the traveler. (laughs) So but anyway, honestly, my one of my favorite parts of it was fun to hang out friends and it was fun to like I don’t know, this was a very, like homemade live nativity thing that our church put on and I think it’s really sweet.

Elsie: It’s a big part of our childhood. And it was it was nostalgic.

Emma: But probably my favorite part, and this is why you can know that I’m a food blogger, is I in between, I think we would do two shows a night and people drive their car up and watch it kind of like a drive in movie, and in between you would go to the trailer that was by the choir trailer and get hot chocolate, which was just warmed up, scalding hot chocolate milk. It wasn’t even like a special recipe or anything.

Elsie: With marshmallows.

Emma: With marshmallows. But that was like, I don’t know, I just have, like, memories of this chocolate milk. And it was like the best chocolate milk because you’re so cold.

Elsie: It’s a hygge experience.

Emma: Yeah, it’s Christmas. And there’s all these, like, Christmas songs playing because you’re doing the live nativity thing. So anyway, it was a really fun thing to participate in. And I just love that it was like one guy at our church who— an older guy who had just come up with this idea and gotten everyone to do it. And he’d been doing it for years and years.

Elsie: He went hard for that idea and I think that’s very cool.

Emma: He really did. And he stored the stuff all year long. And it’s just really cool. And I find it very inspiring. Someday we want to do an episode on this podcast where we talk about basically our pros and cons list of growing up in this church and kind of talk through some different things of it. But this one is on my pros list.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: Because it is a really special Christmas memory.

Elsie: It was a lot of traumatic stuff, but this is definitely one of the highlights and the happy memories.

Emma: Yeah, for sure. And now we’ll take a break for a word from our sponsor.

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Elsie: Ok, so let’s chat about a couple of things that make our holiday feel warm and cozy as adults. So I feel like as soon as I became an adult, which was a while ago, (laughs).

Emma: Which was two years ago…no. (laughs)

Elsie: I like, it was back in the day. Do you or does anyone remember when Martha Stewart had her holiday collection for Kmart? That was like my first…

Emma: Yeah!!

Elsie: It was a big deal, if you were in the Midwest in like the early 2000s…

Emma: Does anyone remember Kmart? (laughs)

Elsie: So, yeah, that was like my whole aesthetic was like, wanna be Martha Stewart, which is kind of still is.

Emma: Of course. Yeah.

Elsie: And yeah. So I’ve always just like loved decorating and always like try to like save my pennies for Christmas decorations and like build them up year after year after year, which is really, really special. And yeah, our collection is pretty bananas now. I’m not going to lie and I just ordered two more trees, so I’m one of those people, but also making cookies, making cookies every year. Like a couple of years back, I learned royal icing sugar cookies, it was one of the best things I ever learned. If you want to teach yourself something that’s like a like, it’s kind of one part food, one part craft. And I feel like it’s the gift that keeps on giving, because now I have this, like, huge collection of cookie cutters and you can do it year round. They make great gifts just like so many good things about it. My kids like doing it, but I only let them do like it’s it’s an adult thing. And then I let them do a little bit just for fun.

Emma: It’s a little, yeah, advanced. But they can make some of their own, too that are….

Elsie: Yeah. I take my crafts too seriously so I have set in my mind, when this is like a craft with my kids and I like let it all be and like I don’t micromanage it when it’s my own craft for myself and I’m like, this is like my replica gingerbread house type of like situation. That’s like an alone time thing.

Emma: Yeah. It’s OK to have your own crafts, yeah.

Elsie: And then, yeah. The other thing I want to say is just like the glow of a Christmas tree, that is the best lighting of your life. It’s the most beautiful you’re ever going to look. It’s the most beautiful everyone’s ever going to look like. It’s just it’s magical and it feels good and there’s just nothing…I wish that there were other times of the year like ways for your house to be like that, but it’s just the magic…

Emma: People to leave their tree up like all year or for excessive amounts of time. I’m not one of those people, but I get it because I’m like, oh, the lights. When you turn the little Christmas lights on at night and you just walk past the tree, you know, I get it. I get it. Because, man, it’s magical. It feels like your house is in a Hallmark movie and it’s awesome. OK, so I’m going to mention three things that you know, feel cozy to me that I tend to do around December/Christmas time. One. I usually do a Harry Potter marathon. And for me, this is something I’ll do over the entire month. I don’t usually watch multiple movies back to back. Sometimes people watch them like all in one day on a Saturday. That’s a bit much for me…

Elsie: I don’t like that either.

Emma: Yeah, so much for me. Recently some friends of mine did a Harry Potter marathon like every Sunday night. So I went to a lot of those and it just finished up. And for the last one they actually made butter beer, which was really cute and it was really tasty. So anyway, that was really fun, so I feel like I did just watch them, but I’m still probably going to rewatch at least my favorites in December because it just feels— I know those aren’t Christmas movies, but they feel like Christmas movies because it takes place over an entire school year and there’s always Christmas in the movie. And they used to come out around December. So in my mind, they’re Christmas movies. Anyway. So that’s it.

Elsie: They’re definitely like cozy movies. Yeah.

Emma: Yeah. Anything English to me is very cozy. They get it over there. OK, speaking of that, the next one is, I like to do so…advent calendars are awesome and any advent you do, I am for. Anything that like leads up or adds to your enjoyment of the month, do it. I love to do a tea advent because I love tea as I’ve mentioned too many times (laughs), all of the time. I should be a tea spokesperson but so I like to do a tea advent. So it’s like a different tea every day. Davids Tea like has one that they make, a tea advent. So I bought that one last year. I’m thinking I have so much tea right now at my house that I’m just going to kind of do my own this year and put it in my own little Advent calendar that I made, which I think you’ll see on the blog pretty soon. So, yeah. And I also have Christmas mugs. If you saw my Halloween mugs, then you know that I’m into like seasonal mugs. I’m very into that. And I have a big collection of Christmas…santa.

Elsie: Yeah we’re waiting for the video. Yeah, the tour. The official tour.

Emma: Yeah, I will make one. And so I use my holiday mugs for my tea advent and it just feels very festive to me. So that and then the last one I’ll mention and I’ll link this in the show, notes that abeautifulmess.com/podcast…is every year I have to make Oreo truffles, which is essentially where you just blend up Oreo cookies with cream cheese and then dip it in chocolate and you make little balls, you decorate them with sprinkles…

Elsie: Oh damn.

Emma: And they’re so delicious and so easy to make. And it’s just really simple. You really don’t even need a recipe. I just told it to you. But they’re delicious and it’s just fun and there’s nothing about it that has to be Christmas. But it’s just something that I associate with Christmas time. So I like to make them every December and usually I do it for a party. But this year I don’t know if I’m going to have a party. So I guess I’m just going to eat a ton of Oreo truffles and watch Harry Potter by myself.

Elsie: You can make them for Christmas Eve.

Emma: Yeah, yeah. I’ll figure it out.

Elsie: I love a festive recipe. Tradition.

Emma: Yes, me too. Is there anything new that you’re trying this year?

Elsie: (singing) Bum bum bum! OK, so I am so excited. So I mentioned I got a couple of new trees because we moved to a new house.

Emma: Didn’t one of your friends, they were like making fun of when people have a lot of Christmas trees?

Elsie: All right. This is actually a cute story. So our friends, Adam and Zach…

Emma: Who are awesome.

Elsie: Let’s just call them anonymous names, Adam and Zach. (laughs)

Emma: Oh, yeah, that’s not their real names. (laughs).

Elsie: They said that— they’re they have a cute small town. It’s a suburb of Nashville, kind of. And they had like a Christmas tour, like a you know what I mean? What am I saying.

Emma: Like you go to different houses and you…

Elsie: Yeah it’s like a tour you can sign up for and people can like come to the different houses and see the decorations. It’s a historic home tour. OK, yeah.

Emma: So they were thinking of signing up for it and then they saw that one of the qualifiers was you have to have at least four Christmas trees in your home, and they were like making fun of that to me and then…

Elsie: Like it was excessive, and then they came to my house and it’s like, haha. And this year it’s probably going to be like more than 10. Like, I love Christmas trees. And I mean, I do collect them. It’s a big part of my garage.

Emma: Mm hmm.

Elsie: It’s like, yeah, too many. But anyway, this year, my new addition besides like a couple of new pink trees, which I will link, they are so freaking cute and I’m just like is I’m going to do a Christmas tree train. I’ve just been wanting to do this my whole life, just like the main. OK, so when you first walk into our house, you know how you see the piano.

Emma: Yes.

Elsie: Right ahead of you. So right by that I’m going to put a tree with the train around the tree where it’s just like going in the circle around the tree. And I think it’ll be so magical.

Emma: So is it just a regular like kids train track, but you’re going to somehow make it Christmassy or what?

Elsie: Yes, I’ve seen people do it with IKEA trains. I don’t know if I have time for that shipping anymore. We don’t have an IKEA.

Emma: Their shipping is crazy.

Elsie: Yeah, it takes a while. It’s like a month minimum for us. They like do it once a month delivery. So anyway, I think I’ll probably just order one and then yeah. I’ll probably paint it or modify it a little bit, maybe spray paint it. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll be able to find one like if it’s like light natural wood, that would probably be like my top choice. So I’ll link whatever we find.

Emma: I didn’t know if you’re going to try to make it look like a train from, like the Polar Express or like, I don’t know, something along those lines. So you want it to be like more, light wood.

Elsie: Blends in with our decor. That’s what I was thinking. Yeah. It’s not from the Polar Express, but I do really I would love to do, you know how they do the Polar Express experience for kids? I would love to do that in the future, probably not this year because.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: Just not gonna.

Emma: Not this year.

Elsie: Do you have a new tradition you’re going to try?

Emma: I really don’t. So as people might know, I’m living at the holiday house, which is Elsie’s kind of second home in Springfield. It’s kind of an AirBnB, but not anymore because I live there.

Elsie: It’s your home now.

Emma: It’s my home now and my holiday house. And it has three Christmas trees that I bought last year. So I’m putting those up with all the decor from last year. But I’ll probably add a little bit more just because I love to walk around the house like after work in the evenings, like when I’m making dinner or just hanging out and just see all the lights, and just see all things. It just feels nice.

Elsie: The glow.

Emma: The glow, the glow. But yeah, I don’t really I usually have some kind of party, but I don’t think I’m going to do that this year. I do have a lot of like friends who live in the neighborhood. So I might see people one on one like I have been here and there.

Elsie: Okay, homework time, Emma find yourself one little Christmas dream. One little Christmas gift you can give yourself that makes your house feel cozy.

Emma: I just make oreo truffles like five times instead of one day.

Elsie: That would work.

Emma: I don’t know. It’ll be different this year, but I am excited. There’s a pink tree and I’m excited to put that one up like before Thanksgiving. I don’t even care. I’m just putting it up.

Elsie: So, OK, Thanksgiving is like three weeks away from Christmas. Of course I’m going to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is at the wrong time. When I run for president, we will be changing the date of Thanksgiving.

Emma: Number one important thing!

Elsie: That’s my number one important number one issue, one hundred day plan change Thanksgiving. It should be like November 1st or it should be even before Halloween, whatever.

Emma: That’s what the Canadians do, right?

Elsie: Yes. Yeah.

Emma: They understand. That makes more sense. Really, Yeah. (laughs)

Elsie: Ok, thanks so much for listening this week. Don’t forget to check out our show note at abeautifulmess.com/podcast. We add links and resources there every single week. Every single thing we mention is linked. Also we started offering transcripts, so every single episode in our archives has a transcript now that can be read. OK, talk to you guys next week.

Read More
  • Have you seen the Barbie Dog that has puppies? lol


  • Love the podcast SOOO much! (Also love the surprise bonus mini episodes—woo hoo)! It is a weekly treat and you ladies really make me laugh and spark true joy. Thank you!! Also that Puppy Surprise commercial is gold. ?

  • One of my favourite Christmas traditions is to read books with a Christmas flavour. Most of them are typical Hallmark love stories, which I am not really into at any other moment of the year, but a Christmas theme makes is even more magical and less cheesy… or cheesier in a totally different (and better) way haha. I’m planning on doing a reading marathon this year, which means one book a day between December 24 and January 1, with hot chocolate/tea and a cosy blanket. I heard about the Icelandic tradition called Jólabókaflóð where you give/exchange books on Christmas Eve and spend the evening reading with your loved ones. It’s definitely a tradition I’d like to try.

  • This isn’t an important comment but I just really loved Elsie’s comment about one month wanting more kids and the next month saying “nevermind”….this is TOTALLY me. hahaha. I feel seen?

  • Loved this mini episode, it really brought me back to my own “Christmas scenes” (as my church called them) that I haven’t thought about in years. At my church, the “it” roles were the angels or most of all, the wise men, who got to sit super high on “camels” and wear sparkly hats. Like Emma my favorite part was the refreshments, and I vividly remember the older ladies at church putting together an amazing spread of chicken salad and pimiento cheese sandwiches, various cookies and of course hot chocolate. I also grew up in Missouri! I’m not very religious anymore, but this was a wonderful childhood memory and it was great to relive it. Thank you!

  • Do you have pink tree recommendations? I came here to find those after listening 🙂

  • Elsie’s laugh throughout the episode (e.g. when Emma pointed out that Elsie is older) made me laugh out loud… at home, by myself. I have been binging the podcast lately both in preparation of a move (into an apartment that is completely white… even the floors!) and as a break from the news. Thank you for covering such a great range of topics and spreading joy!

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