Ready For Christmas at Casa Aloha!

Meiling hung almost all the ornaments this year by herself – a beautiful job! Every ornament is a memory.

The tree is up, the presents have been wrapped, the food purchased, and WenYu arrives home this week – we are ready for Christmas here at Casa Aloha! I love this time of year, and am again looking forward to us all being together for the holiday. Our son and family had thought they might come, but the grandkids are at a stage where jet lag is a difficult, long-lasting issue, so they’ve decided to postpone a visit until next summer.

We set up a Christmas savings account this past year, and between what we put into that each month and some Swagbucks I earned, we ended up with $1200 to use for gifts this year. We sent $100 to Japan for our grandchildren (although our son would prefer we sent nothing) and they will use the money to either do an activity together or get the kids something they want. The rest was divided so that there was $210 per person – $150 for gifts under the tree and $60 for each stocking. Brett and I typically don’t exchange gifts, but we are this year.

I can’t say what I got for Brett for obvious reasons, and I haven’t a clue what I’m getting, but here’s what the girls will be receiving:

GoToob travel bottles

Each girl’s stocking will contain a travel set of Mālie bath products (we get a kamaaina discount for these), a set of GoToob silicone travel bottles, a cute phone stand (either a dog or a cat), a bath scrubby, a set of decorated paperclips from Japan, and some candy, which will include Lindor truffles, Dove dark chocolate hearts, and Japanese mochi.

Meiling, who loves to bake, is getting a red KitchenAid hand mixer, a set of cute cat-shaped measuring cups, Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and a $50 Trader Joe’s gift card. We got WenYu a pair of gold earrings from Bali (via Novica), a professional set of 132 colored pencils, and a $40 gift card to her favorite clothing store. YaYu will be receiving a sports watch with a timer, a FitBit with a set of changeable bands, and a “party box” filled with her favorite Korean spicy noodles. Each girl is also receiving a “food bag,” filled with their favorite treats and things they like to make, or in the case of WenYu, things she can fix in the dorm, like macaroni and cheese. We tucked these items into our regular grocery shopping the past few months, so have no idea of the value of what’s in them, but it’s balanced between each girl.

Meiling also set up a family Secret Santa exchange, where we’re not allowed to know who got what for whom and have a $30 limit for the gift. My recipient will be receiving a Regal Cinemas gift card.

We’ve had our little wooden advent tree for 30 years – we bought it when our son was nine years old. After Christmas is over this year, we’re packing it up and sending it to him so our grandchildren can enjoy it in the coming years.

Christmas morning we’ll follow tradition, and early-riser Brett will have coffee and hot chocolate made when the rest of us get up. Everyone gets to unpack their stocking first. Then I’ll serve our traditional Christmas breakfast of bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon, along with fresh fruit (this year it will be fresh berries), and we’ll eat while we open gifts. For something new this year we’re serving POG mimosas with breakfast (or POG with club soda, for those that don’t drink alcohol). Gifts are opened one at a time so we can admire and appreciate what each person receives, and we will once again go in order from oldest to youngest, with Brett starting things off. Meiling will serve as our “elf” and distribute the gifts.

We’ve traditionally had appetizers for our Christmas Eve dinner, and this year will be no different although we are sticking to an Asian theme and having pad thai, lumpia, potstickers, sushi, and homemade wontons along with rice and a cucumber salad. Dessert will be Japanese cakes and mochi ice cream. For our Christmas dinner we’ll be having ham, macaroni and cheese, roasted brussels sprouts, biscuits, and cream puffs topped with chocolate sauce for dessert. Guess what I’m not having!

If weather permits, we plan to head down to the beach on Christmas Day, but if it’s a less than beach-worthy day we’re going to take a family hike out to the Pineapple Dump. We also plan to watch a movie together, but we’re waiting until WenYu is home to decide what that will be.

This will be our last Christmas in Hawai’i, maybe for a long while (next year we’ll be in Portland), so we’re making this a special one. I almost can’t believe Christmas Day will be here in just a week, but we are ready!

14 thoughts on “Ready For Christmas at Casa Aloha!

    1. Thanks! Every Christmas is lovely as long as we can be together. I know there’s going to be a time in the not-too-distant future where the girls won’t be able to spend time with us every Christmas, so I plan to enjoy these ones now as much as possible.


  1. So excited for you – sounds absolutely fabulous! We fly to Portland on Saturday, and will have our traditional Christmas Eve celebration. Which consists of heavy appetizers & a pajama party, followed by a white elephant sock exchange. It’s a lot of fun & so many laughs. I found a few winners for socks this year, so I’m looking forward to it. Christmas Day will be mellow, as it will just be my boys this year. So, we will open gifts in the morning, then go for a walk, drink mimosas, & get ready for additional guests in the afternoon. We’ll have a soup/salad/appetizer feast in the evening, over a traditional microbrew tasting with friends & family. It’s a very NW celebration. 😉 That evening, we head to the beach, where we’ll stay until 1/1. SO excited.

    Have an absolutely wonderful time with the girls at your last Hawaiian holiday!


    1. Your whole Christmas with your family sounds wonderful. The sock exchange especially sounds like so much fun – what a good idea! We used to always hold a big Christmas party with my English students when we lived in Japan (30 students plus spouses, and our friends, crammed into our little houses – it was wild), and always did one of those gift exchanges where you could steal from someone else. I can remember a few where it might have been better to just have socks to exchange (the students always brought lovely gifts versus the crazy white elephant gifts the Americans provided).

      Loads of wishes for a very merry Christmas to you and yours!


  2. Sounds wonderful and delicious! We’ll have a relaxing Christmas at home with food to nibble. On Boxing day (Dec. 26), we’ll join my extended family for dinner. We pick Dec 26 to avoid schedule conflicts with going to in-laws and having our own family holiday, etc. Have a great time with your daughters! I’m sure you enjoy every minute having all three of them at home during the holidays.


    1. Ah, Boxing Day! What a lovely tradition – I wish we had something similar here in the U.S.

      It will be a bit crazy with the three girls here, especially because the house is small, but they’re all grown up now and independent, so in many ways there’s not as much work as there was when they were little.

      Best wishes for a wonderful and joyous Christmas!


  3. All of your plans sound lovely as do the gifts. Perfect. And I love the Advent tree. What a nice thing for your son to inherit for his children.


    1. Fingers are crossed that the girls enjoy their gifts, especially Meiling. She has always been the most difficult to shop for, but she’s living in her own apartment now and is always talking about baking, and cooking for herself these days. She told me the other day that she wished she had a stand mixer, which surprised me, but hopefully the hand mixer will be a good start.

      We had a bit of a heated discussion over who would get the advent tree – Meiling really wanted it – but I said that I had bought it for M, and it should go to him and his kids. It’s something of a miracle that we’ve never lost one of the little ornaments – there have been some close calls though. Meiling is going to take the wooden nativity set that I bought at a craft fair when she was little because she couldn’t keep her hands off anything, and I knew she could safely play with the pieces and not break it. She’s going to take the set with her this year when she goes back to Oregon (WenYu named the wise men one year – we still call the one in red “Ketchup.” I can’t remember the other two’s names though).

      Merry Christmas!


    1. I have tried to change things up with the girls from time to time, like serving a breakfast casserole or such instead of bagels, and I always got a resounding “no way – don’t mess with tradition, Mom!” They really are important, no matter how small. Our gift opening ritual came from my family – even though our Christmases were typically pretty sparse, we followed the one person at a time, and oldest to youngest rules (which was hard, but my parents and grandparents believed it helped us kids practice patience).

      I love the Maile products – my favorite is the plumeria body wash. The lotions are fabulous.


  4. Your Christmas does sound wonderful! We are very low key here and I have always loved it that way. No big meal but plenty of coffee and light snacking. We usually visit friends in the evening.
    Merry Christmas to you and the time you have enjoying your family over the next few weeks.
    Anon in Mass


    1. I hope our Christmas didn’t sound too high energy because it really it pretty low key around here too. The girls will help with the Christmas Eve prep, and our Christmas dinner is easy to prepare and won’t take a lot of work either. I think the most effort we spend is on cleaning up after we open presents, but these days everything goes into the recycling so it won’t be too bad.

      Wishing you and yours a joyous Christmas!


      1. Oh yes it does sound just the right speed to me……immediate family,staying home,good food and company. You’re doing it great!


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