Family · Parenting

My Favorite Christmas Traditions

The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. I even love it more than I love summer weekends and vacation at the lake. Having little kids who get really into Christmas brings the magic back, and sometimes I get so caught up in it that I start believing in Santa again. Since becoming parents, we started our own Christmas traditions. I think this is something that is very important when having kids. Some of our traditions came from Matt’s childhood—and some came from mine.

Christmas Cards!
This is my favorite thing to do during the holiday season. We didn’t start sending out cards until we had kids. A part of me wishes we started sending them out sooner, but there is nothing I can do about that now. I save a copy of our cards each year—I love looking back at them from over the past five years. Once the orange Shutterfly box comes in the mail, I dedicate my evening to personally addressing these cards. What’s more, seeing the Christmas cards from family and friends come in the mail is my favorite part of the day during December.

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Out takes are the best! Our actual Christmas card photo is featured above. Clearly, the dog didn’t make the cut.

Baking
Growing up, both Matt’s mom and my mom baked a ton of Christmas cookies. They always did a huge variety, and I am not sure how they did it, since they were both working moms. I carried this tradition on, but I stick to only three kinds: cookie press cookies, sugar cookie cutouts, and cherry chip cookies. Yes, you heard me right, cherry chip—these are a favorite that my mom made. If you have not made them, I highly recommend it, because they are very easy to make and so good. You can get the cherry chips from Cub Foods.

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Gingerbread Houses
We started this tradition just last year so the kids could help make them. They remembered this year and kept asking when we were going to make gingerbread houses. Izzy likes to eat that stale gross candy, not sure why. Matt’s frosting got out of control so he told Jacob’s his went through a snowstorm—good recovery.

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Elf on the Shelf
This is a tradition we also started last year. This is new tradition, as in it wasn’t around when I was a kid. I would say it became popular within the last five years, but let me know if I am wrong with my numbers. The kids get a kick out of it every morning. We named ours Hermie, after the elf who wants to be a dentist on Rudolph.

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Santa
It is cliché, but we visit Santa every year. The past couple years our kids have smiled for Santa, but in years prior, that was not the case. The photos are fabulous memories we have for life.

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Ornaments
We let our kids pick out an ornament for the tree each year. This year, Isabelle dropped hers before we got it out of the store—and of course it broke. We told her to wait to open the package until we got home, but she didn’t—a hard lesson to learn at three. We still hung the golden retriever ornament that she chose on the tree…it was just missing a nose.

Movies
Hallmark movies—these are new to me. I make time to watch them in bed after the kids are asleep. My favorites are Christmas in Evergreen and Shoe Addict’s Christmas.

As far as the rest of the movies go, we love the Christmas classics, from kid ones to adult ones—Rudolph, Frosty, The Grinch, The Santa Claus, Christmas Vacation, Elf, Christmas with the Kranks, and (who can forget!?) Bad Santa.

Christmas Eve
We go to the early afternoon Christmas Eve service and sing all the Christmas hymns—well, I sing them.  We attempt to tell our kids the real meaning of Christmas. After church, we have ham dinner that I make with my mom’s recipes. The kids are allowed to open one present with their cousin on Christmas Eve. Once it is bedtime, we put the kids in their Christmas pajamas and read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. The kids look out the window and see if they see Santa and his sleigh.

Christmas Morning
This is spent just the four of us opening Christmas presents. I love this time together so much—it is fun, relaxing, and stress-free. We may change our plan in the future, but while the magic of Christmas is here, we love having the kids wake up in their own house Christmas morning. Later in the day or the day after Christmas, we head up to the Brainerd Lakes area to see our families for a few days.

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These are some of our Christmas traditions. What are some of yours? I am always looking for new ideas and traditions to celebrate; I look forward to hearing from you.

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