20 Movies to Spark Your Christmas Spirit

Most of us find our televisions bursting with holiday cheer inspired by various television sources who like to get started throughout November and December. To be honest, with all the repeating themes and storylines it’s easy to burn out on Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies, or the same thing repeating over and over on Freeform. Along with repeating themes and movies we are bombarded with annoying and excessive commercials. I for one will be so thankful when Medicare enrollment is over, and Martha quits yelling at me.

Thankfully we have access to streaming services, a fabulous DVD collection, and premium movie channels to set our own viewing schedule up and avoid commercials. Keeping that in mind I’ve put together a list of 20 (mostly) family friendly greats from way back to recently released that’ll spark your Christmas Spirit while changing up your viewing.

1. Take it way back with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and kick off the season with 1954’s White Christmas. Between the gorgeous costuming and fabulous music this one is always a cozy favorite. Right now, it’s streaming on Netflix, but if you check TCM’s movie schedule I guarantee you’ll find it!

2. 1946’s It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite Jimmy Stewart movie of all time and is on Prime right now. And remember, “every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

3. Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles (2018) was such a pleasant surprise and feel-good movie. I just adore Kurt Russell’s portrayal of St. Nick. Skip the sequel as all the magic was used up in the first one.

4. Is it really Christmas without watching and quoting 2003’s Elf? This one will inspire you to sing your way through the holidays with a smile on your face, perhaps annoying that one “Central Park Ranger’ of a family member in the process!

5. While quoting Elf is a lot of fun, 1989’s National Lampoons Christmas Vacation is a classic we can actually watch on repeat all season long! Afterall, “we’re gonna have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas!”

6. The Disney Channel’s movie quality has declined over the last several years (let’s face it, the original High School Musical was the last great movie), but Disney+ has made up for it. Several classic Christmas movies are streaming right now and 1994’s The Santa Claus tops the list! Both sequels are available to stream as well if you want to binge the entire series, but the original is the best by far!

7. While there have been plenty of remakes, 1947’s Miracle of 34th Street with Natalie Wood is the most charming of all!

8. Put on your pj’s and whip up some hot chocolate, then settle in with 2004’s Polar Express. You’ll fall asleep dreaming of the North Pole while awakening out your childlike heart.

9. Your Grinchy heart will grow three sizes after an evening with Jim Carrey’s 2000 version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

10. “KEVIN?!?!” 1990’s Home Alone is a hilarious Christmas adventure the entire family can giggle over, while quoting and cheering for the mischievous kid (who really needs a wooden spoon to the bum) as he wreaks havoc while protecting his home. It can be found on Disney+ right now.

11. Disney+ is also showing 1999’s Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas which I watch solely for sentimental reasons; it was my Samantha’s favorite movie to watch when she was little as this particular one showcases the iconic Mickey and Friends.

12. Bill Murray will have you feeling crazy yet entertained while watching 1988’s Scrooged. A little crass for the kiddos this one is a silly and irreverent comedy that you can watch after tucking the little ones in bed.

13. Netflix has put out a few really good movies, and this year’s A Boy Called Christmas is a magical journey sharing another story of how Santa Claus came to be. Dame Maggie Smith narrates the tale which makes it even more enjoyable.

14. Christmas with the Kranks (2004) based off a John Grisham book sharing the humorous experience one couple has as they decide to “skip Christmas”. Let’s face it, we’ve ALL thought about it one time or another. It’s streaming on Prime right now.

15. Bloggers and influencers alike can relate to 1945’s Christmas in Connecticut with Barbra Stanwick as a magazine writer … one who embellishes her uninteresting life through her monthly articles. TCM loves to show this one during December.

16. TCM also airs 1956’s Bundle of Joy with Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher a couple of times in December. Eddie Fisher wasn’t the most talented actor, but his singing definitely made up for it. Reynolds and Fisher were married while filming this comedy and their chemistry is so sweet.

17. I saw 1983’s A Christmas Story in the theater on a cold Sunday night with a group of friends after evening services when I was eleven. I loved it then and I love it now. It’s the movie that never grows old … kind of like me.

18. A Charlie Brown Christmas from 1965 is not really a movie, but is it Christmas if you don’t watch it at least once? It’s a good one for remembering the modern reason for the season.

19. Another not-really-a-Christmas-movie, but one you must see is 1964’s Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Some cartoons you really never outgrow.

20. Finally, I have to add 1944’s Meet Me in St. Louis. While technically it’s not a Christmas movie (only 25 minutes of the movie is dedicated to the holiday), but who doesn’t love Judy Garland’s gorgeous mix of tenderness and heavy-hearted version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas?

What Christmas movies should I add to this list? I would love to know some of your must-see Christmas movies!

10 Things December Edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and I’m ready to savor every moment this season has to offer! I’ve got my bucket list made out and thought I would share a few ideas with you to add to your own list.

1. Visit a Christmas tree farm. If you want the freshest of live trees this is the best way to pick one that will last! Sip on cider, take some fun pictures and bring home a tree that’ll make a lovely centerpiece for the holidays. Thompson’s Tree Farm in Lawrenceville is a great place to check out if you are in the Atlanta area.

2. Donate to Toys for Tots. Sponsored by the Marine Corps, Toys for Tots strives to collect new toys and distribute to less fortunate children across the country. This is a huge undertaking and requires a lot of community support. Could you imagine if every family, that was able actually placed a toy in the bins all around the city, how many children’s holiday could be changed?

3. Make Christmas cookies. These Cream-Filled Cookies or traditional Sugar Cookies are perfect for friends and family alike. They’ll be a hit no matter where you serve them this season.

4. Pay for someone’s coffee. Nothing makes a person’s day brighter than to treat them with a cup of coffee. It’s been a stressful couple of years for A LOT of people and I promise this little act of kindness will go a long way.

5. Take a drive to look at Christmas lights around town. Put some Christmas music on the radio and head out to see all the twinkling lights your town has to offer. This has been a favorite tradition of mine since I was a little girl, and with social media access you can often find where the best diplays are before you head out.

6. Send out Christmas cards. Yes, it takes time to address, write a message and sign the card, but this is a tradition we all need to get on board with again! I love recalling memories we have shared with so many friends and family over the years as I write each message, and it’s the same as I open each card we receive as well. We’ve lived in six states, attended the same Bible camp for years, carry on friendships from college, and traveled on mission trips where we have created a lasting bond with many. Turn off your social media and get personal. One evening of a favorite Christmas movie and a box of cards goes a long way.

7. Speaking of movies, enjoy a Christmas movie marathon over the holidays. From 1954’s White Christmas to 2021’s A Boy Called Christmas there are plenty of movies for every mood!

8. Set up a hot chocolate bar for the family. I’m absolutely loving these adorable Jolly Good marshmallows from Two’s Company. I picked up my bag from the new Buc-ees up the road, but you can also find something similar at Williams-Sonoma.

9. Make a wreath. Simple or elaborate, it’s up to you, but grab some ribbon, a nutcracker and some sparkly floral picks and create your own welcoming wreath.

10. While Jesus was most likely born in the spring and not December 25th, Read the Gospel of Luke in the days leading up to Christmas as a reminder of why the birth of Jesus is so important to many of us who celebrate the Christmas season for more than Santa Claus. For many it’s the only time of the year they are open to hearing about Christ and I’m more than happy to oblige.

Have you put together a bucket list for you and your family this season? I would love to hear what you’ve added to yours!

Happy December!

Our Red & Green Christmas Tree

Christmas has arrived in the Jones house and y’all, I am so excited!

You see, Santa Claus has sent word that I am on the nice list (boy has he been hoodwinked) and has already delighted me with a couple of fabulous gifts.

First? I have an adorable new grandbaby who I get to cuddle and spoil and enjoy and treasure and love! Mariah has my heart wrapped around her little finger and she will be here the week of Christmas and of course Christmas morning. Her parents will be here as well, but I get the baby!

Second? Bradley has been approved for Christmas leave and for the first time since he joined the Marines, he will be home for Christmas!

I told you I had been a good girl.

It makes my heart swell knowing all four of my children will be home on Christmas morning. We will still be missing Madeline’s hubby as he is deployed, but as a military and police family we understand the sacrifice and know it will be ok.

These early gifts have me feeling even more festive and sentimental than normal, so I wanted that to reflect when decorating our trees this year. I also wanted everyone in our cul-de-sac to enjoy the holiday cheer, so my favorite tree is twinkling in the front picture window which happens to also be my office.

I know many of you are stopping in from Design Morsels , so welcome to Fiddle Dee Dee and my little space on the internet! I’m linked up with 20 other fabulous bloggers for a Christmas Tree Decor Blog Hop hosted by Michelle from Our Crafty Mom so let’s get this party started!

No matter the trends of the season I will have at least one red and green tree in the house. I love these traditional colors of the season that actually come from the ancient Celtic celebration of the winter solstice with holly and berries.

This year I had a lot of fun, pulled out all the ornaments we have gifted the kiddos and collected for ourselves every year, and stepped into a world of nostalgia. Twenty-seven Christmases of annual Hallmark ornaments, glass Santa’s we purchased in Iowa when our ornaments were left in Alabama in storage after a move, the shiny brites I scoured Nashville and Chattanooga to find, the Mickey & Minnie Heart Audley bought me in Gatlinburg on our honeymoon, sweet gifts from friends, couple ornaments for our girls and their hubbies, the blown glass Christopher Radko’s and a crayon box for our Marine.

This tree tells our story.

There is no uniform color or pattern to any of these ornaments, yet with a little ribbon, festive picks and colorful lights it all came together to form a beautiful tree that showcases our family’s story.

I would love to tell you where all the decor came from, but honestly, I cannot. Some of the Radko’s are from a little shop in Scottsboro, Alabama, a couple from Flat Rock, North Carolina, and still others from Snellville, Georgia. A few baubles came from a little local shop in Clinton, Iowa and a few from Rome, Georgia. The Shiny Brite’s are reproductions and I found them at HomeGoods. Some were gifts from special friends and family to mark occasions. I’ve had most items on this tree for fifteen years or more.

To pull everything together I found the wired green and red polka dot and the elf patterned ribbon on Amazon. The festive picks are from Hobby Lobby and the elf hats are actually cute holiday headbands. We added colored lights to our prelit tree to keep it playful and nostalgic. There is just something magical about brightly colored twinkle lights.

While this isn’t our main tree, it is in my favorite space, and definitely in a prominent location. My office is where I write, read and disappear for quiet time with a cup of coffee in the mornings. It’s where the music is located and the front room in the house.

This year the kids will hang their new ornaments on Christmas Eve and we’ll begin a new collection of ornaments for Miss Mariah to add her chapter to the tree. I can’t wait to watch her story unfold.

Be sure to check out the other Christmas Trees these talented bloggers are sharing today. I’m sure each have their own unique story to tell.

More Christmas Tree Decor Ideas

Christmas Tree Decor Blog Hop feature image

Be sure to visit all the participating bloggers for decorating inspiration for your Christmas tree…

Christmas Tree decor collage of four

Our Crafty Mom // Red Cottage Chronicles// From House to Home// Simple Nature Decor

Christmas Tree decor collage of four

Virginia Sweet Pea// 2 Bees in a Pod// First Day of Home// Across the Boulevard

Christmas Tree Decor Blog Hop collage of four

Simply Beautiful by Angela // Happily Ever After, etc.// Madness and Method// Zucchini Sisters

Christmas Tree Decor Blog Hop collage of four

Purple Hues and Me// Tribe of Burton// My Pinterventures// Modern on Monticello

Christmas Tree Decor Blog Hop collage of four

Jenron Designs// Design Morsels// Oh Fiddle Dee Dee // Redneck Rhapsody

Autumn Spice Turkey Brine

We are just a day away from Thanksgiving 2021 and I am so looking forward to enjoying time with our families. We have two gatherings planned; one of which we are hosting, so it’s going to be a fun and very busy weekend!

Thanksgiving in the US revolves around everyone gathered at the table with a bountiful meal served up. We Americans love to eat and generally it’s done in excess.

While my own Pilgrim ancestors that survived that first year to celebrate in 1621 didn’t write about the details of the feast, others recorded that part of the meal consisted of wild fowl. Could this be the reason we have turkey today as the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving dinners?

This year I am brining our turkey before roasting. Brining helps the turkey absorb extra moisture which will help prevent the bird from drying out while roasting. The salt in your brine soaks deep into the meat adding layers of flavor. It also breaks down some of the tough membranes’ turkey is known for having, giving you a tender bird to serve up. The best part of using a brine is it is so easy! And who doesn’t like easy for the holidays?!

To brine the turkey I combine sea salt, brown sugar, juniper berries, star anise, lemon peel, orange peel, dried apple bits and other fresh herbs (I’ll post a link to print the full brine recipe below) with 2 1/2 gallons of water in a large non-reactive pan. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally, until the salt and sugar has dissolved. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate so that it is chilled. After the brining solution is chilled add your turkey, cover and refrigerate to soak for 24 hours.

After your bird has soaked in the brine, rinse and prepare to roast using any of your favorite roasting recipes.

I roasted our bird by stuffing it with chopped apples, oranges and fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden, and placing it on a bed of the same ingredients. Since I was really looking for an orange flavor, a few well-placed orange slices between the skin and breast worked magnificently. Tent your turkey with foil and pop into the oven at 350 until the temperature reaches 160 degrees.

I made a baste for our bird using 1 cup of turkey broth, 1 cup Riesling, and a stick of butter. By brining the turkey, I didn’t have to baste near as often.

After removing the turkey from the oven, I let it rest about 30 minutes. Using my baster, I removed the juices from the pan to make up a flavorful gravy. You really need about 5-6 cups, so if you don’t have that much from the turkey, add canned broth. It’s perfectly fine to do this as you’ll still have plenty of that fresh roasted flavor. To keep as much fat as possible from my gravy I love using my OXO fat separator. If you don’t have one, head off to Target right now (thank me for the excuse to shop later) and get you one! This is probably my most used kitchen accessory.

Everyone makes gravy differently, but I’ve found the easiest way is to divide your turkey broth/juices and while most of it simmers on the stove top, save a 1/2 cup of the juices to whisk with 1/4 cup of flour until smooth, then add to your simmering broth; whisk well. Stir in some salt and pepper to taste, maybe some fresh parsley. Cook until you it thickens, about a minute or so.

Plate your roasted turkey and enjoy all the oohs and ahhs you’ll get over your moist, tender and yummy turkey! If you would like a detailed recipe, check out my Autumn Spice Turkey Brine.