What Are Your Favorite Holiday Traditions

posted by Andrea | 12/4/2015
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christmas traditions

While I’m not an overly sentimental person — and I always try to evaluate whether a certain tradition is still enjoyable for me and for my family, some of my favorite things about the holidays are the fun family traditions I look forward to year after year.

Growing up, we had many family traditions:

  • We almost always set up the Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving.
  • My mom would make all sorts of bread and a HUGE batch of her special homemade hot chocolate mix.
  • My mom would often wrap our presents in “code” so we never knew which ones were ours (she used a specific pattern or type of wrapping paper for each kid).
  • We got together with all the relatives from my mom’s side of the family on Christmas Eve and then with the relatives on my Dad’s side of the family on Christmas Day.
  • We ALWAYS had ham for Christmas dinner.
  • We usually got to open one present before church on Christmas morning but then had to wait to open the rest of them until Christmas night
  • Etc. etc. etc.

And now that we have our own little family, Dave and I have started a few traditions of our own…

  • Putting up a Christmas tree and our wooden Nativity at some point between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Sending out some sort of holiday card.
  • An “ugly sweater party” with our friends.
  • Christmas parties with various sides of our extended family.
  • Watching a few favorite Christmas shows on Netflix (Dave ALWAYS needs to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and I like to watch Elf!)

Two other traditions I’d like to start once the kids are a bit older:

1. Do something to give back to a person, family, or organization in need. But not just a financial donation… I want our whole family to physically do something like volunteer at a soup kitchen or deliver gifts or meals to a needy family. I think it’s good for them to see others who are less fortunate and to realize that Christmas really is not about getting gifts, but rather giving them.

2. Implement a more “simplistic” gift-giving routine where we would give our children only a few gifts: 1 clothing gift, 1 educational gift, 1 experience gift, and 1 fun gift.  Not only will this make shopping and planning a lot easier, it will also help the kids to realize that Christmas isn’t all about gifts (which is really easy to forget these days!)

I know there are SO many other fun and creative holiday traditions… so today, I’d love to know:

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

They don’t have to be big or fancy and they can be traditions from your family, your work, your friends, or even from when you were a child. I’m just interested in what other people do to celebrate/remember the holiday season.

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  1. Julia K


    Advent has become a really important tradition for our family. Down here in Australia – December / January is our loooong summer school holidays. My children finished school for the year on December 4th and don’t go back until the end of January. I usually try and get most of my Christmas Shopping done prior to the school holidays and then I can focus on celebrating Advent with the children.

    We have a large Advent Calendar with pockets that hangs on our Kitchen wall. Each pocket contains an envelope with an Advent “Activity” as well as a small chocolate / candy for each child. They take it in turns reading the activity out each day. The activities are a mixture of fun things / outings / craft and giving back. This helps break up the l-o-n-g weeks between school finishing and Christmas Day.

    Here’s this years activities:
    Dec 1 – put up christmas house decorations
    Dec 2 -breakfast food in christmas colours
    Dec 3 – decorate tree
    Dec 4 – christmas movie night at home
    Dec 5 – christmas in cooroy ( a local Christmas Festival)
    Dec 6 -see “love the coopers” at the movies
    Dec 7 – christmas craft – melted crayon baubles
    Dec 8 -shop for 2015 christmas ornaments & sibling gifts
    Dec 9 – bake & decorate gingerbread men
    Dec 10 – help pack joy packs at “the shack” ( a local charity for at risk young people)
    Dec 11 -ice skating
    Dec 12 – carols at cotton tree ( community carols)
    Dec 13 – visit maleny botanical gardens and aviary
    Dec 14 – sunshine coast christmas lights – maroochy baptist
    Dec 15 – make some christmas decorations
    Dec 16 – evening swim then fish ‘n chips by the beach ( remember it’s HOT here LOL)
    Dec 17 – dinner in christmas colours
    Dec 18 – white christmas at movie world
    Dec 19 – swimming at currumbin
    Dec 20 – myer brisbane christmas windows
    Dec 21 – make a nativity set out of recycled materials
    Dec 22 – go for a swim at kiamba
    Dec 23 – drive around and look at christmas lights
    Dec 24 – make some fudge for the neighbours


    Andrea Reply:

    wow — this is awesome! Thanks for sharing and have a Merry Christmas!


  2. Heidi


    My husband’s grandparents are farmers in the Midwest and my husband grew up working each summer on the farm. A few years ago, he brought back some old barn wood home to SC after our annual summer trip to the farm. He used the wood to make a beautiful stable for a nativity set that we use each year with our girls. On the night we put up our tree, he tells the Christmas story using the stable and hand painted figurines that he mom made for the nativity. His father did the same thing with him and his sister for all their childhood years.

    My other favorite tradition is the Dec 23rd “Christmas-Eve-Eve” sleepover that my sister has for my two girls. They always make a gingerbread house, roast marshmallows, and enjoy the last appearance of our Elf on the Shelf while my husband and I finish up any last minute Christmas stuff. I might be willing to change most any traditions we have, but that Dec 23rd sleepover is staying! 🙂


  3. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving


    Making buckeyes. We’re very perfectionist and make several hundred a year – always getting compliments wherever we bring them. Not only are they delicious, but they make for great homemade gifts. Plus, I have good memories of sitting around the kitchen table and rolling them with my siblings so my Mom could dip them.


  4. Abbie


    I just wanted to thank you so much for sharing your mom’s hot cocoa recipe-it is so yummy! What a fun addition to our Christmas family time!


    Andrea Reply:

    you’re welcome! Enjoy 🙂


  5. Mary Beth Bisinger


    i had a friend share this with me when my 20 something’s children were young. We all color , sign and date a page in a large Christms coloring book. We are still using the same book, and everyone enjoys looking at it thru the years. Guests and extended family who visit love to participate.


    Andrea Reply:

    this is so fun! thanks for sharing!


  6. Mrs. W


    We do the 12 days before Christmas to spread out the excitement of Christmas for 1/2 the month. Each day the kids get to get one present out of their stocking for the 12 days before Christmas. It is something small usually candy (something my kids rarely get), or special treats (larabars, fruit squeezies, etc), or stickers, little notebooks, etc. It only costs me a few dollars to do this, but my kids get so excited to open up one stocking present a day for the 12 days before Christmas.

    We also limit the number of gifts we buy to 5. I love buying gifts but the limit helps me to be careful for what I pick out. And some of the gifts are practical like new pajamas or books and the rest are a toy or two.


  7. Lori


    4 gifts-a want ,a need, a wear, and a read. Makes it simple. I totally agree, giving back is the best gift of all!