Christmas Old-Fashioned Style

By Angèle There are always a million things to do during the holiday season, but how much is really what matters to you? I know that for me, concentrating on the basics and creating traditions that my child (and her mother) look forward to every year is what matters. So if you’re looking for a simpler Christmas, even an old-fashioned Christmas, here’s a good place to start.

Heritage Villages Cumberland Museum (East of Orleans)

On a late Sunday afternoon last December, my daughter and I, along with friends, went to the Cumberland Museum to experience the Vintage Christmas Village of Lights.  We admired twinkle lights as we walked in the dark and sang carols on our horse-drawn wagon ride.  We then decorated gingerbread men in the old town hall (yes, we ate most of the icing straight from the bag), and admired the handmade decorations in the schoolhouse. Of course, after warming up with hot chocolate around the camp fire, we saw Santa in a very old, charming house. We left filled with Christmas spirit; it was an event to remember.

Needless to say, I plan on going back this year:

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in December, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Families (two adults and unlimited children) $18.

Upper Canada Village (South of Ottawa, in Morrisburg) We haven’t been to Upper Canada Village’s Alight at Night Festival yet, but if it’s anything like what we can do and see there during the summer, it will be impressive. Starting November 30th, we can go on a horse drawn wagon ride or on the lit up toy train, spot the Dickens characters and enjoy carollers in the old church or have a traditional Christmas dinner.  Or we can simply stand and stare at the twinkle lights for hours.

It’s definitely worth the drive from Ottawa.

Angèle is a goofy mum to a daughter and a wife to an evil genius (retired, apparently). She’s also a social media strategist, a podcast host and a teacher in training.  In her other life, she’s a fan of fresh air, yoga, good friends, new places and keeping things simple.  She is the author of two blogs: More of Less ( ) and My C Word ( ).  PS. She often overshare. You’ve been warned.

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Simplifying Christmas

by Kamerine

I like the idea of getting my kids whatever they want, providing them with all the toys that I never had growing up.  I want them to be happy.  But then I think about it and realize that more toys isn't the way to make them happy.  I want them to understand that Christmas isn't about the stuff, it's about the memories.  I want them to appreciate what they have and know that they're lucky because they have a bed to sleep in and roof over their head, toys to play with and each other.

They are kids though and kids like stuff.  So what now?  How do I give them stuff without giving them too much?

It was a few years ago I was reading posts on a pregnancy/baby forum that I came across a little idea about Christmas.  A way to make it simple but special for the kids.  It's something that we've adopted for our family and you might want to as well.

It's easy, and it rhymes.  Here it is:

Something you want,

something you need.

Something to wear,

something to read.

Every Christmas my kids will be getting 4 gifts from us:  a toy of some sort, something practical, a new outfit and a book.  We add in a new pair of pajamas to be opened Christmas Eve, because I love that tradition, and a gift from Santa.

My kids are still a bit young but we will be explaining this to them as they get older and plan to stick to these 4 things to keep Christmas simple but special.  I really hope this will help them understand that Christmas isn't just about the stuff and while it's nice to get toys it's nicer to spend time with family and friends.

I would love to hear about any traditions your family has for keeping things simple at Christmas.

Kamerine is mom to 3 year old Little J and 1 year old Baby K.  She documents her life with two toddlers, a husband and a cat at

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Kids in the Capital: Call for Pictures

Happy New Year to everyone who reads, contributes and sponsors Kids in the Capital. We've been talking a lot about KIC and 2012 and what we want to do to refresh the site as well as give the community new, interesting content. We'll tell you a bit more about that soon, but for now, we need your pictures!

As everyone who reads this blog knows, we have some talented parent photographers out there and you're all doing different things around Ottawa with your kids. Part of our site refresh plans include using some of the photos from readers in our new site banner and that's where you come in.

We're going to use seasonal photos and refresh the banner about every three-four months. If you have some winter photos you'd like to contribute, email them (or links) to!

Thank you to everyone in advance for your help!

Question of the Month: New Year's Eve/Day

Kids in the Capital is all about parents in Ottawa helping each other out by sharing tips and advice. Each month we will ask a parenting question and we want to hear all the gems of advice you have to share. Just leave your answers in the comments! And if you have a question you’d like to suggest, leave it in the comments or email us at! This is our bonus question for December, because New Year's is coming up fast! (Where did 2011 go!?)

What will your family do for New Year's celebrations? Do you let your child(ren) stay up to celebrate? What kind of New Year's Day traditions to do you have?


Kids in the Capital - Season of Giveaways We've been doing our Season of Giveaways over the last two weeks and we are happy to announce the winners of the Sens Skills tickets for today:

1) Paul won the 4 300-level tickets. 2) Jodie won the 2 100-level suite tickets.

We hope you and your guests enjoy the competition!

Don't miss your chance to win one last time this year by going and leaving a comment on Lara's post about The Royal Canadian Mint tour that she took her family on last week!

My favourite tradition: New ornaments

by Karen (Original unedited post published last December on Karen's Chronicles) Brandon is enthralled by the Christmas tree this year. He spent 10 minutes walking around signing and saying "tree" one night. It's been a long time since I got really excited for Christmas. Usually I get excited about the things I get to do that I really enjoy - like decorating the tree/house. It should be noted that this year I got pretty sentimental about this part of the process. With each ornament that I took out of storage, I was reminded of pivotal milestones that we have experienced in our time together over the last ten years. That was special and it was also the first moment that I started to immerse myself in the spirit of the season.

2000 - Our first Christmas together. This year, because of some changes to extended family plans, we're spending Christmas day at home for the first time ever. Just the three of us. At first, I wondered what we'd do. We've never had to spend a holiday alone before so it's a real adjustment, this not spending the day with extended family. Then I decided that this is the perfect time for us to establish some new traditions of our own. To create memories that will build anticipation for future Christmas celebrations.

I've really missed some of the traditions I grew up with - like stockings. Matt and I have never done stockings because he didn't do them in his family. With just the two of us, it didn't seem to matter that we didn't do them. But Brandon's getting to an age that I want to start introducing him to the things that I enjoyed and in my family, we loved the Christmas stocking. Filled to the brim with candy and special little (mostly) inexpensive items, we always looked forward to dumping them out and foraging for hidden treasure amongst the pile of chocolate and mints as we munched on our Christmas candy treats.

2008 - Our first Christmas with Brandon. In our house, the stockings didn't match. There were no names on them and we didn't always get the same stocking every year. We also had more stockings than we had family members, so if we had a guest, there was always a spare for them. The only way you knew which stocking was yours was because they were hung in the same order Dad, Mom, Brother 1, Karen, Brother 2. Oldest to youngest.

Every Christmas Eve night, just before bed, we begged to be allowed to open one gift each. Eventually, it became part of our family tradition - one that I don't think my parents were ever too thrilled about. But it was fun for us kids and I think it may have even netted the house a half an hour of extra sleep since we'd already whetted our appetite for gifts. I don't think I'm going to institute this tradition just now. Perhaps in a few years if Brandon decides to ask.

2010 - Ten terrific years. :) On Christmas morning, we mixed it up. Sometimes we could convince our parents to let us unwrap presents before breakfast, but never before we read the Christmas story. As soon as we read the Christmas story (and sometimes after breakfast), we would unwrap presents. Another tradition in our family was that Mom, my brothers and I would stay up very, very late Christmas Eve wrapping presents. My mom and  I in particular would get quite creative and fancy with the wrapping, making them as pretty as possible. We loved creating beautiful packages to put under the tree. As the wrappings came off, we saved every bow to be re-used for years to come (very "green" of us).

As I prepare for this Christmas and the changes it's bringing, most of all I'm looking forward to spending more time with Matt and Brandon - separately and together. There is truly no better gift than that.

Our seventh winner of a Family Pass to the Canadian Mint is Marielle!

If you leave a comment on any post for the duration of the giveaway, you are entered to win. Additional comments are not required and won't increase your chances of winning (though they are always welcome).


Royal Canadian MintWe are going to be giving out one pass a day for the next 6 days. To enter leave a comment on any one of the giveaway posts or tweet about the giveaway:

I’d love to win a family pass to the @canadianmint from #kidsinthecapital this holiday season!

Only one entry will count and you can only win once.

Winners will be picked each day from all comments and tweets received by 8:00pm. If you'd like to know more about this giveaway and the Canadian Mint, please read our introduction post.

What are your favorite traditions at Christmastime?