12 Incredible Christmas Traditions

 

Christmas is almost here!!!

I’ve been waiting for Christmas to come since January! It’s has always been my favorite time of year. The music, the lights, the joy filled spirits, the giving and celebrating, the hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, the Christmas movies, lighting the fire and snuggling up, the snow! So many things I love all wrapped up into one word….Christmas!

If you knew me in high school, you probably rode in my mustang convertible with the top down singing Christmas songs in July while I blasted the AC and pretended it was Christmas time. Or if you went to Tesoro High School, then you would know I dressed like an elf for my yearbook picture one year. Even still, you will find my kids and I sporting Santa hats quite often and anytime there’s an opportunity to wear elf pajamas or Christmas clothes, we are in them.

Here are some fun family traditions that will keep your Christmas spirit strong.

  1. A Thankful Tree– this will be our first year doing this and I’m so excited. Starting in November you put up a little tree and leave it bare. Put out a basket of cut out paper shaped like leaves. Every few days have the kids write what they’re thankful for that day on the leaf and hang it on the tree. Every time you have a visitor, make sure they participate as well! There are lots of different ways to do this without a tree if you’re like us and don’t have a lot of space…You can have them write it on a plain white table cloth and put that on your table for the season. Or you can have them pop the thank you leaf in a pretty vase or jar. Or just tape the leaves to a wall in your house. You can get creative with the space you have! The kids will love watching the visitors participate too.
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  2. Cookie Baking Party– shout out to my step mom, Julia, who always kept this tradition alive! Every year we would spend a whole day baking (and eating) tons and tons of cookies-oatmeal butterscotch are my personal fav. My mouth is watering thinking of them. The kitchen would be a mess, but such a beautiful mess as we baked, sang and danced to our favorite Christmas albums. We would decorate the gingerbread men and sprinkle the star shaped sugar cookies with festive sprinkles. Everything was made from scratch and made with love. We would package up the cookies and bring them to the fire station and say thank you for their service. You can bring them to cops, homeless people, a family in need, your pastor, a hungry pregnant blogger (ahem-me), anyone really!
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  3. Pajama Party-we like to throw a kids pajama party every year and read the Christmas story, offer snacks and hot cocoa and play Christmas games. The adults are welcome to join or leave their kids and go on a date! It’s so much fun for the kids to celebrate with friends in pjs. We usually watch Elf and pop some popcorn too. You can’t really get into the Christmas spirit if you haven’t watched Elf at least 10 times this season!
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  4. Participate in a toy drive or other charity event. We do Angel Tree every year. We pick a child or two who have a parent in jail and buy a gift for them that their parent chose. Obviously you can’t send Christmas presents in jail so it’s a beautiful way to let a child feel their parents love on Christmas even though they can’t be with them. It’s great to show our kids how to love others and have a giving heart. We always do the NEGU Santa Stroll, NEGU is an amazing foundation that supports kids who are fighting cancer. It’s especially near and dear to my heart because I love the amazing family that started it. Their story is so powerful, even scrooge would be touched! (shout out-love you Shaya!)
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  5. Look At Christmas Lights Together!! We always research where the best local decorated homes are and take the kids to explore with some warm tea in hand. We walk the neighborhood and enjoy the beautiful lights people put up.
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  6. Gingerbread Houses– Making gingerbread houses and having a contest is fun of the whole family. You can even post pictures of the finished homes on your social media and have people vote for their favorite one. You can make a party out of it of do it as a family but either way plan on buying extra candies so you can be creative.
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  7. Decorating Together-We set aside a whole day to decorate the house, the tree, put up our lights and light candles that smell like Christmas. Brax started asking me if we could decorate in October because, much like his mother, he’s a Christmas fanatic. I’m pretty sure it’s in my blood. We love decorating as a family and making it a special day.
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  8. Christmas Eve- on Christmas Eve we always go to church. Saddleback church is an amazing one to attend, they even have sledding available! Real snow in Southern California…woo hoo! Saddleback church also has a beautiful candle ceremony singing silent night, makes me tear up every time.  After that we ALWAYS go to In N Out, which may not be as fun for me now that I’m a vegetarian hahah-fries are great though! We do this with our whole family and invite friends to join if they aren’t busy.
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  9. Christmas Eve Jammie’s– after church and In N Out, we head home and let the kids open one present, hint: it’s always new Christmas Jammie’s! I am thinking about moving this tradition to the morning after Thanksgiving so they can wear them through the season. Just a thought.
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  10. Christmas morning– chocolate chip, gluten free pancakes and bacon. This tradition was started by my mom and will continue forever! We love those chocolate chip pancakes on Christmas morning yummmmmy. You can pick your family’s favorite breakfast and make it every year. The smell of the food becomes a memory linked to the joy of Christmas, its magical.
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  11. Countdown till Christmas– there are tons of fun advent calendars where you can stuff prizes or candy in them and the kids get to pick one each day leading to Christmas. I prefer prizes or stickers over candy because no one needs extra junk during the holidays. I just heard about wrapping 12 Christmas movies or books and letting the kids open them each day and then you read that book or watch the movie together. I love the book idea! I may do the books this year and do one a week because my kids love to re-read their new books night after night.
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  12. Gift Giving-my mom used to give us all $200 to spend on gifts. We would have to divide it up and plan our presents out. I loved putting thought into my gifts for each family member and making a big list of how I could make each person feel special. Sometimes I would make a gift and sometimes I would buy one but it was always fun to make a giving list rather than my own Christmas list of things I wanted.   When the kids are older we will do this but since they’re little we just talk a lot, “what would grandma want this year? Have you seen something she really needs or would love? Can we make her something pretty?”
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The key to enjoying the season is to not stress out! Don’t try to do it all! Don’t say yes to everything! Pick one or two traditions that you know you can continue with each year and stick with those. Don’t let the hustle bustle and the rush of it all stress you out. Most of my suggestions don’t cost much to do, some don’t cost anything at all.

Slow down, enjoy your family. Spend time rather than money…that’s what will be remembered. I don’t remember the presents I got each year, I hardly remember what I got last year. But I do remember the people we were with, the love that was shared, the memories that were made. And of course, the chocolate chip pancakes…

IN THE COMMENTS, TELL US YOUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TRADITION THAT YOUR FAMILY DOES. OR WHICH ONE OF THESE YOU WILL TRY THIS YEAR!

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