For Christmas 2015, we decided we needed to go about presents a different way.  Both boys are to the age where Christmas presents are getting smaller and more expensive, but they still don’t make a lasting impression.  Neither one of the boys could tell us what they had received for the prior Christmas!  It was the juxtaposition between the amount of money spent (a lot) and the amount of time used (NOT a lot) that prompted us to think of another way.

So instead of presents from us (or Santa), we thought a trip would be good balance between stuff and experiences.  They would still get stuff from grandparents and trip souvenirs, but the experience would be something they should remember and learn from.  They boys weren’t completely sold on a decrease in gifts, but that is one of the perks of parenthood – they didn’t have to agree.

Once the trip was established, we talked it over as a family and together decided on our location:  Washington DC.

Washington won out over other destinations due to its historic value, free attractions, ability to use Jason’s airline and hotel points, and the fact that I had never been there.

We knew that going to Washington DC in December was risky weather-wise, but thankfully we hardly used the coats and boots we bought for the occasion.  A warm front in December helped us out!  Layers were our best friends – layer up in the morning, peel off layers throughout the day, then add them back on after sunset.  Perfect!

Our agenda was packed.  Between all the monuments, Smithsonian’s, parks, and historical attractions, we had our days filled.  Who needs relaxing when there is so much to see?!

Our original plan on day one of going to the National Mall and going to the Natural History Museum,  ended up with a visit to the Museum,  Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and the White House.  Whew – makes my legs ache just writing all that.  SO MUCH WALKING!   Towards the end of the day, JJ was giving Cole piggy back rides and both were complaining about the amount of walking.  Our assurances that since we walked/saw so much today, the rest of the trip would be easier, didn’t make much of an impact.  (smart boys)  The day ended with a “Monuments at Night” bus tour that took us to see the Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and Iwo Jima Memorial.  They were even more powerful lit up at night.

The rest of the trip followed that general pattern.  Our schedule for the day morphed if we realized we were close to another attraction, it didn’t take as long at the museum of the day, or Colonial Williamsburg was further away than we thought.   Highlights included Mount Vernon, the Mint, Arlington Cemetery, the National Archives, and all the Smithsonian Museums.   One of the best parts about the trip was the food.  Every meal was Instagram worthy – even the last-minute ‘let’s eat here’ restaurants.  YUM!

We returned home from Washington DC and jumped right into Christmas festivities.  The boys didn’t complain about the decrease of gifts under the tree (although grandparents helped fill the void nicely) and even made comments about where we should go for our Christmas trip next year.  I think a Watts Tradition has been born. 🙂

Here is a little slide show of pics from the trip.  Enjoy!   ** Disclaimer – Cole had just received a selfie stick and we used it unapologetically during this trip! **

This slideshow requires JavaScript.