If anyone’s visited Chicago right before the holidays, you know it’s something special. And for someone who moved to Florida after growing up in the Midwest, our annual Christmas trip to Chicago has been the holiday balm to my heart that misses a good cold December and the festive magic Chicago at Christmas stirs up. My kids talk about our Chicago traditions all year long—the Macy’s window displays, the decorations, the way it feels straight out of a movie to be huddled in the little apartment where we stay while we watch from the big window as people walk by, on to holiday adventures. We were sad to miss our trip this year, but I wanted to recreate a little home version of some of our Chicago traditions. No, it’s not quite the same completing a puzzle by the fire in our living room than it is at the top of the Willis Tower like we usually do. But I knew I could whip up our own little magic at home to create the enchantment of the city this time of year, and I was delighted with the challenge. So Operation Christmas in Chicago at Home began. The kids didn’t know anything about it which was half the fun. It started with a bucket list I had so much fun illustrating in my morning alone hours leading up to our celebration.
I ordered Giordano’s pizza to be shipped (stay with me Lou Malnati’s fans—-to each his own :o) and Garrett popcorn, bought the kids Chicago sweatshirts to wrap up and ordered the annual Chicago Macy’s ornament which we always buy when we visit.
Add twinkle lights, fake snow and a city skyline cut out of foam board and you have a party. Come join us in our Florida Chicagoland.
Custom Pennant: Fellow Creatures Co on Etsy (we’ll be tucking this in our suitcase for our next actual Christmas trip to Chicago). Street Light Lamps: Hobby Lobby. Taxi with Packages: Target.
I hung photos of all our old Chicago trips from the ceiling with fish line.
…and pulled out my vintage Chicago mugs (my friends found these for me at a thrift shop) for my first attempt at making the German gluhwein I always drink at the Christkindlmarket.
We usually have a Christmas tea at the Drake with all sorts of delicious tea treats, so delicious tea treats it was.
…and what’s a Chicago celebration without Chicago style hot dogs (Lainey said she’s never having a hot dog without celery salt again) and stuffed pizza.
There was snow…
…and a picture from the stoop even though it wasn’t a brownstone.
We completed our holiday puzzle from a lower altitude.
Played Christmas Bingo like we always do in my friend’s charming apartment where we stay.
…and we rode the “holiday CTA” to find a good cup of hot cocoa.
We watched a Christmas movie while the kids made collages from photos of our favorite December memories in Chicago.
We even made a snowman (freeze cornstarch and add lotion to make faux snow).
The night was very different from the Chicago celebrations we usually experience, but I know we’ll remember this year’s “trip” forever and how having to stay home invited us to find new ways to celebrate being together.
All of our kids have rolled with the changes this year with such grace. Their innocence and enthusiasm is so comforting.
We’ll see you next year, Macy’s. We missed you.
…and to our Chicago friends we usually see this time of year…we missed you more.