The colorful Paper Plate Awards have once again brought excitement to families in the Lakeland Hills community this holiday season. The awards are simple: brightest house, the most candy canes, best inflatables, Favorite Santa, etc. Designs are written on a paper plate and secretly delivered to the winner’s doorstep. An Auburn family is to thank for such tidings of comfort and joy.
This tradition has a backstory fit for the Hallmark Channel. Wishing to stay anonymous, to continue the Christmas magic for years to come, the family’s mother shared how it began.
“When my husband and I were dating, we lived in a small college town. There wasn’t much to do during the cold weather nights,” she said. “One evening, we drove through neighborhoods creating paper plate awards for the homes that were decorated for Christmas. That’s where it all began.”
Cue the collective sigh of hearts melting.
“Fast forward many years, we were married with a family. Once our oldest was able to understand the concept of giving awards, we revived our tradition and have been doing it since,” she said.
The family begins the honorary festivities by creating a list of awards. They then design and create the paper plates to reflect the awards. Awards in hand the family drives around the neighborhood to find the homes that best fit the coveted trophy.
“I really love to design the paper plate awards,” said the family’s oldest child. “When you make one, you just think of the most common or simple themes. I think it’s really neat that you can create an award and always find a house that matches it!”
The kids secretly deliver the award to the recipient’s doorstep. Often homes, like Lakeland Hills Lights, will earn a couple of awards
“I like to write them and sneakily take them to their houses without getting caught,” said the youngest of the family, a six-year-old.
Christmas music is a must as they drive around presenting the awards. Hot chocolate is the reward when the mission is complete.
The middle child finds excitement in knowing the Paper Plate Awards bring Christmas joy to the neighborhood. “I just like giving people paper plate awards because I like to make them feel proud of what they did. It’s fun to make people feel happy!”
The family started the tradition two Christmases ago when they moved to the Lakeland Hills neighborhood. Community members often share their praise and excitement about the Paper Plate Awards.
A recipient of the “Best Baby Yoda” Paper Plate Award this Christmas, Rachel Gilbert, posted, “We feel very honored to have had these two Paper Plate Awards bestowed upon us by someone in the neighborhood. Baby Yoda wears them with pride! (PS, these made my week! Thank you!).”
As we begin the new year, the family’s mother reminds us all that kindness is what got us through the trials and tribulations of this past challenging year.
“The excitement and enthusiasm have continued to build, especially as everyone has been looking for kindness in 2020,” she said. “We love reading the posts thanking us for the paper plates and reading the comments of the people acknowledging our tradition. Thank you to our fabulous neighbors who make my kids feel so great by posting gratitude and pictures of the awards once received.”