Let’s Go to the North Pole

Oh hey, Christmas friends. I’m drunk on cocoa and sugar high’in from marshmallows and cookies, but I’m here. In red plaid jammies if you must know.

We had our sixth annual North Pole Party this past weekend and, after editing all the pictures, I’m feelin’ the feels. Why is it that December brings out so many feels? It’s like a month long push on a bruise–the hurts are hurtier; the goods are goodier. We let those feelings come to the surface as they may in December, and we throw parties to celebrate all of it. Six years in now, this little North Pole party holds some nostalgia. It’s hard not to look out at the crowd of kids listening to the Christmas story and remember every one of them when they were in that same spot six years ago–chubbier cheeks and imaginations unshackled by all that the world tells them that is possible. At the same time, it is such a celebration of growth and change and a solid reminder to be grateful–all these kids, all these mamas, all these years. We’re healthy, we’ve grown in numbers, we’re bound by friendship and love.

So, here we go. Some holiday cheer for you–kids and jammies and Christmas and cookies.

Wait. Quick. Go make some cocoa. With marshmallows. I’ll wait.



Back? Now light a candle. And you’ll need some Christmas music, so I took the liberty of making you a playlist of our absolute favorites.

Click play.

Welcome to the North Pole.

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I am unwilling to try any other Christmas sugar cookie recipe because I can’t imagine this one being topped. It’s Better Homes & Gardens cookbook recipe (page 200 in mine–the page is all crusted with flour and falling out of my book). I roll out the dough pretty thick so that they’re soft and chewy, and I pull those feckers out of the oven when they are just barely brown around the edges. Our frosting might not be the smoothest/prettiest frosting, but it tastes so much better than the royal icing recipes I’ve seen that make picture perfect cookies. I don’t measure. I just soften a stick of butter, add a shit ton of powdered sugar, a teaspoon or so of vanilla and then enough milk to get the consistency I want. It sets enough to be able to stack cookies and yet your teeth can still sink into it.

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Also, I’d like to throw out a big Thank You to our hot cocoa bar for staining Dash’s brand new white Hanna Andersson jammies. Hoping Oxy Clean pulls through for me.

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We do an ornament station at the party, and I’ve found that these work great as a self-run craft station. Cover a table with butcher paper. Put all the supplies out. Write step-by-step directions on the paper. (porcelain ornaments, Michaels–as well as the minis, currently 70% off)

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These adorable hot cocoa ornaments (Target) were the take home treat and made the cutest garland.

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Brett sets up our beach tent in the front yard every year and strings Christmas lights all over it. We put blankets under it, and it makes the perfect gathering spot.

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I remember driving to the hospital, a week before I delivered Nella, to hold these these twin boys.

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Little finished ornament projects drying. Swoon.

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We do an outside scavenger hunt in the dark every year, but we switched it up a bit this year so it didn’t get too redundant. Two hundred candy canes were hidden along our street, and the kids ran with flashlights to find them all.

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My dad read a Christmas story to the kids again, and all I can think watching him is “You will remember this forever.”

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My favorite thing about this year? Nella fitting in. In past years, she’s kept her distance, often choosing to go read alone or hang with an adult away from the crowd. Not this year. Sister found her place. Ran with the kids on the scavenger hunt, weaseled through the crowd to get her cookies, sat with friends under the light tent, laughing and drinking it all in.

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So many times throughout the night, my dad, Brett and I all found each other and whispered, smiling, “Look at Nella. She’s so happy.”

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And that, my friends, is Christmas.

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Also, I should share that a kid gift exchange with 24 kids of different ages and genders is a shit show, and that I fail miserably at orchestrating it, but that’s half the fun. Because the adults all laugh amid the chaos and say, “This is a mess. We should never do this again.” But we do. And we will. Because tradition.

I love this night, I love these kids, I love these memories.

(Party aftermath…Dash grazing the leftovers).

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To see past years’ parties–North Pole Party Archives: 20152014, 2013, 2012, 2011.


Leave a Comment
  1. Try blue dawn (dish soap) on the hot chocolate stain! I works miracles on food stains! Love this party!

  2. Feeling all the feels over here. I love these posts. What amazing, magical memories these kids will have. You amaze me with all you put into these parties. Great, great job!!

  3. Oh I wish I knew you and could attend this fun night! How magical! Your kids will remember this for the rest of their lives. And Nella! She is pure happiness! Merry Christmas, Kelle!

  4. I love the part about Nella taking a more active part in the festivities! Warms my heart to see my granddaughter Calla (6), who has D’s, when she plays w/ the other kids. (She often goes off by herself like you mentioned.)

    A small suggestion for your sugar cookie icing: add 1/2 tsp+ of almond extract (1 tsp if a really large batch)(this is in addition to vanilla).

  5. I wait impatiently every year for this post. Love love love this tradition of yours <3

  6. Love this!! I am relieved to hear that the gift exchange was a shit show hahah I’m hosting a North Pole party this year too, inspired by you and I’m already nervous about the gift exchange Hahahaha you’re the best!! What amazing memories your kids will have someday. Thank you for sharing!!

  7. I’ve been reading you for 6 years. Somehow you choosing Leslie O for your list brought me to tears.

  8. Such a magical night!! I love every detail that you put into this (and all of your parties). And I love how you are grabbing onto all these special moments with your kiddos. It’s inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

  9. I’m so glad that Nella found her groove in the festivities this year – I share your joy for her. I remember a similar feeling I had watching my daughter have a “first” conversation full of giggles with a “first” friend from her Kindergarten class many years ago. She had suffered a brain injury a few years prior, and she was learning to walk and talk all over again by the time she joined a Kindergarten class, and I was so worried that she would be excluded because of her disabilities. It took a couple of weeks, but the day I rolled up in the pick up line and saw her chatting it up with a fellow classmate ….well, I pulled my car over and just sat in the car, spying on her…tears in my eyes….watching her smile, giggle, and carry on a conversation with girl from her class. It was “first”(since her accident) and oh, it made my heart so happy.

  10. Thanks so much for posting your North Pole Party memories. I look forward to it every year. I’m thinking, if possible, that we should do this at church next year to help build community among some of the young families.
    Your 2012 posting made me fall in love with Christmas all over again. I’ve been peeking in every year since then.
    Great music selection! Made browsing your post all the more enjoyable.
    May the rest of your Advent bring you happily and joyfully to a very Merry Christmas.

  11. Helen Mason says:

    Hey Kelle, can I come next year? Looks ah – may – zing! Love to you and yours from me and mine! xx

  12. yay! Your North Pole parties have inspired me for many years. I always look forward to this post. Thank you for finally sharing that frosting recipe. Those sugar cookies look like the ones from my childhood, and I cannot wait to re create them with my kids. :) Have a beautiful blessed day!

  13. I squealed with excitement, laughed & did 1003 “Awww’s” with this post…but Nella’s smile, finding her place…..tears of joy! Thank you for sharing & Merry Christmas!!

  14. Oh boy….you just set yourself up. I will be expecting a Christmas playlist every year going forward now!! Thank you for sharing!!

  15. I always have a smile on my face while reading your blog….. especially for this part. I can’t wait to see how you have decorated and what activities you plan for the kids. So so cute. I love how Nella joined in this year.


  16. This is the cutest tradition!!! I love all of the ideas and decorations. Your dad reading to all the kids is adorable.

  17. I look forward to this post every year. Where did you find the hot cocoa ornaments that you have hanging up? SO cute!

  18. Adorable as always! Vinegar maybe for the stain (I know it works for dog pee on carpet)? I know the feeling….I will probably lose sleep for you about this.

  19. “So many times throughout the night, my dad, Brett and I all found each other and whispered, smiling, “Look at Nella. She’s so happy.” made me tear right up. Love that girl. Love this annual party so much mama.

  20. I absolutely adore this idea!! You go all out and are a total rock star!! Your kiddos will remember these moments forever!! I think my favorite is the ornament making station and how you wrote the directions right on the paper – genius!

    Way to go mom!!

  21. Kelly Treutle says:

    6 years ago I read the post about your first North Pole party and immediately told my neighbor we needed to do this for our daughters. 5 years ago we had our first “Girly Christmas Party”, and we just had our 5th one December 3rd. We change the theme every year (North Pole, Gingerbread, Elf on the Shelf, Nutcracker and The Grinch) and it is so much fun and I’m so glad I saw your post and was inspired to do the same thing! 5 years of so many of the same girls attending and the same Santa surprising those girls have created lifelong memories for all of us!!!

  22. Kelly Treutle says:

    P.S…Another neighbor hosts the “Boy Christmas Party”, so the boys aren’t left out of the party fun!

  23. Unashamedly at 24 years old, I’ve realized that attending one of your amazing North Pole parties is on my bucket list.
    I don’t even need to participate. I just want to be there and observe the happiness. The kid in me is totally jealous.
    You did it again, Kelly. Thank you for sharing, as always. ❤️

  24. I love this post every year. :)

  25. The part about Nella made me tear up too. I just love her! All your kids are great but that Nella – she is something else. When I see the DS girls that are modeling now, I think oh how nice and my very next thought is Nella could so be a model.

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