Disclosure: Diary of a First Time Mom is proud to partner with Denny’s as a #DennysDiners Blogger Ambassador. Stay tuned for exclusive content and menu news. Although we’re being compensated in some form, all opinion remain our own.

Dear Diary,

This year, we’re celebrating co-parenting Christmas in our house. Never heard of the holiday? Well, that’s because I made it up! Instead of feeling down because my daughter will be with her dad, we’re getting into the holiday spirit. I planned a party, a surprise and lots of festive fun. In the beginning, not celebrating every holiday with my daughter saddened me. Then, I realized the holiday is made memorable by what you do not when you recognize it. You make the most out of the time together, even if that time doesn’t fall on December 25.

Here’s how you can create new traditions.

Gingerbread House 2

Make a Gingerbread House

Growing up, we spent tons of time in the kitchen, watching my mother cook, bake and decorate. We made cookies for Santa, dyed eggs for the Easter Bunny and iced cakes for birthdays. This year, the children in our family continued the tradition by making a Gingerbread House, which they ate moments after I snapped this shot.

Rudolph Show

Start a Tradition

Co-parenting through the holidays probably impacts the parents more than it does the kids.  Adults want a “perfect” holiday, with everyone under one roof. Kids want to be in two places, especially since Santa’s sleigh will put gifts under two trees! Nonetheless, I decided to enjoy our time together and start a tradition. I surprised my daughter with tickets to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the Musical. We sang and danced in our seats with the Claus’, Hermey the Elf and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster. And my daughter glowed as bright as Rudolph’s nose!

Denny's Holidays 1

Eat Out

If you’re short on time, skip meal prep at home and eat out! Denny’s serves festive favorites and seasonal flavors 24-hours, even on  Christmas Day! Denny’s has become a much-loved tradition for millions of Americans during the hectic holiday season. Your family can enjoy an affordable, hassle-free meal. Last year, Denny’s welcomed more than 1.4 million guests on Dec. 25, making Christmas the diner’s busiest day for the fifth consecutive year.  Caitlynn and I went to Denny’s when the  “Tastes of the Holidays” menu debuted. It features dishes such as the Pumpkin Pecan Pie Pancakes, Holiday Turkey & Dressing Dinner and Rudolph™ Pancake Breakfast. And of course, you need to top of the meal with something sweet.  We loved Santa’s Milk & Cookies Shake and the Pumpkin and Pecan Pie for just $2. While you’re there, you can also pick up last-minute gifts. Who wouldn’t want a gift card to Denny’s?

Christmas Gifts

Open Gifts

When I was my daughter’s age, my parents let my sister and I open one gift on Christmas Eve. I probably treasured that gift more than the dozens I received the following day. I recall one year when I got Orange Blossom, the pretty brown girl on Strawberry Shortcake. I took her everywhere! So my mom insisted that Caitlynn opened one of her presents before she left. Well, more like 10!  My how mothers change when they become grandmothers!

Hey DFTM Fam–How are you celebrating the season? Do you plan to take a break from cooking and eat out?


About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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