By Christmas Eve I didn't think Ella could be any more excited, but she somehow managed it. We had some baking to do so that Santa would feel welcome when he arrived that night. As Ella said "we want the big guy to be happy!"
Steve had bought a roll of gingerbread dough for gingerbread men, and I mistakenly assumed that it was pre-cut into gingerbread men shapes and that all we'd have to do was bake them and then decorate the little guys.
Well, it turned out that all you needed to make gingerbread men was some gingerbread men cookie cutters, which unfortunately we did not have .... So, we improvised and made some stars (the one cookie cutter I do have) and a the rest were free-hand gingerbread designs like candy canes and snowflakes :)
Rolling out the dough
We also baked some chocolate chip cookies, since Santa had told Ella those were his favorites. Luckily we made those from scratch which Ella was happy about, and that worked to redeem my mommy-fail in not having the proper gingerbread men making supplies.
Some early birthday gifts from Grandma and Grandad
We had beautiful weather so we headed up to the playground in the afternoon
Playing tag with Grandad
That night at church, Ella surprised me when she made the very grown-up decision that she'd have more fun in Children's Church vs. sitting with us. After church we went home for dinner and had Chinese food, which has become somewhat of a Christmas Eve tradition for us.
Looking adorable in front of the free
In her new Santa hat from Grandma and Grandad. We had been out to lunch a day or two prior, and the waitress was wearing this exact hat in silver. Ella told her how much she liked her hat, and asked where she got it from (Walgreens - one of Ella's favorites!). Donna and Dad were out a few days later and picked up the pink one for her :)
We always open one present on Christmas Eve and Ella picked a gift from Aunt Erin.
Decorating Santa's cookies - there was about a half-inch of icing on each one covered in many, many sprinkles and candy decorations. The more the merrier!
Writing her note to Santa
We had bought some chocolate milk powder at the grocery store as a treat for Ella and hadn't made it yet. In a very surprising selfless move, she wanted to make it for Santa to enjoy! So we made him a chocolate milk in a giant cup that she thought he'd like, and then gave him a special arrangement of holiday decor for his enjoyment.
All ready for his arrival!
She was torn between being so excited she couldn't sleep, and wanting to get to bed so that Santa could come...she erred on the side of staying up late :).
It was finally close to 11 pm when she was finally gave in and fell asleep - phew!