It’s that time of year again! It’s getting cold outside and everyone is singing the same songs and hurrying here and there shopping, going to parties, and just trying to keep their heads above water. That’s why I love Christmas traditions- they cause me to slow down, to enjoy the season, and to intentionally make memories with my family. This is only my 3rd Christmas as a mom, so facilitating a lot of these traditions is very new to me! Some are carried over from my childhood, and some are new to our little family.
If you’re looking for some new ideas to add to your family’s traditions, or if your family is brand new, I hope you’ll enjoy reading about our favorite Christmas traditions!
Cutting Down a Christmas Tree
This is a new tradition for our family this year. I’ve always wanted to get my Christmas tree from a Christmas tree farm and this year we were finally able to do it! It was so fun to walk around the farm to find that perfect tree. I’m really looking forward to next year when my daughter can help pick it out!
Pictures with Santa Claus
This is a must! Each year we have both our daughter and our dog take pictures with Santa. I love looking at the pictures seeing how my daughter has grown and changed from year to year. Maybe next year we’ll get lucky and she’ll actually smile!
The Christmas Star from Afar
This is a new one for us this year, as well. While I don’t have anything wrong with the elves on shelves, they’re just not for me. However, I love our Star from Afar- it helps us stay focused on the true meaning of the celebration of Christmas by daily reminding us of Jesus’ birth.
If you’re unfamiliar with Star from Afar here’s a little explanation- the kit comes with a book and a simple wooden nativity set. On the first day that you begin celebrating Christmas you set up the nativity without the star or the 3 wise men. Place the star somewhere in your home and hold onto the wise men. Read the accompanying book with your children and have them look for the star. Then have them place the wise men with the star and read the short daily Advent passage. In the evening move the star again, then in the morning your children look for the star and, once it’s found, move the wise men to follow it to its new location. On Christmas morning the star is placed on top of the stable in the nativity kit, leading the wise men to Jesus.
I love how this simple wooden nativity points our hearts and minds back to Jesus each morning. It takes just a couple minutes but has a lifelong impact on how I, and my children, celebrate Christmas.
Natalie Ard, the author and creator of The Christmas Star from Afar, has graciously agreed to offer a 10% discount to my readers! Use the coupon code CHEERIOS at checkout any time between now and December 25, 2016 and you’ll receive a discount on this fantastic tradition!
Surrounding Ourselves with Christmas
I can’t think of a better way to enjoy Christmas than to jump in with both feet! In our house Christmas music gets turned on the second the Thanksgiving dishes are all in the dishwasher and doesn’t get turned off until December 31st at 11:59 pm! I make a point to surround myself and our family with Christmas merriment as much as I can! Christmas music always on, decorations all over our home, Christmas dishes, Christmas books, Christmas shirts! By fully immersing ourselves in Christmas it sets this time of year apart and makes it special.
Decorate Gingerbread Houses
This was one of my favorite Christmas traditions growing up! My mom had this amazing Pampered Chef gingerbread house mold that made beautiful gingerbread houses. We would also bake a few gingerbread men while we were at it! Each child got their own house and we would decorate them with tons of icing and candy until they practically buckled under the weight!
Christmas Eve Service
As long as I can remember my family has attended the Christmas Eve service at our church. When we travel during Christmas we find a church to attend wherever we are on Christmas Eve. It’s so important to refocus our hearts and our minds on Jesus before we get lost in gift giving and family drama the next day!
Look at Christmas Lights
After attending the Christmas Eve service we drive around neighborhoods in our area looking at everyone’s Christmas lights and decorations. It never gets old and I can’t wait for my daughter to really enjoy looking at the lights this year now that she’s 2 and can actually see around the side of her rear-facing car seat!
Bake Cookies for Santa Claus
Each year we bake cookies for Santa. It’s usually just a small batch, but it’s fun to bake and decorate them together on Christmas Eve. Before going to bed we would put the best cookies (usually one from each child) on a plate and leave it with a glass of milk by the fireplace, along with carrots for the reindeer. It was so much fun to come downstairs in the morning to see just crumbs and half a gnawed carrot on the plate! Now that my daughter is 2 and enjoys helping in the kitchen I’m really looking forward to introducing her to this tradition this year.
Opening One Present on Christmas Eve
This is a tradition that I’ve adapted for our new family. Growing up we always opened one present on Christmas Eve, but I also love the idea of getting new pajamas on Christmas Eve. For our little family we’ve decided to combine the two! This year on Christmas Eve our daughter will open one present, inside will be brand new pajamas to wear to sleep and for Christmas morning!
Looking at the Christmas Gifts and Stockings Together
I always hated this tradition as a kid, but as a parent I now understand it and will be implementing this Christmas “rule.” Under no circumstances is anyone allowed to look at the Christmas tree or stockings until the parents are ready and armed with a video-recording device. When we lived in a house with stairs my siblings and I were commanded to wait at the top until my parents were ready to film us going downstairs and into the living room where all the presents and stockings were waiting.
This year my daughter is still too little to open her bedroom door by herself, so I’m not so worried about how this will play our in our house this year, but next year I’m going to have to get creative! Our bedrooms and living room are on the same floor in our home and the tree is easily visible from all the bedroom’s doorways. Once I figure out a solution I’ll come back and update this post! If you have any suggestions please post them in the comments, because I will definitely need them in 2017!
For as long as I can remember, Nutcrackers have been part of my family’s Christmas traditions. I don’t know when it started, but I can tell you that it’s not going to be ending any time soon! My mom and my grandmother gave all of us nutcrackers each year at Christmas. Over time our collection became quite extensive! This is one tradition that I truly love to keep going. Now I give my mom a nutcracker every year, and she gives one to me and one to my daughter. We write on the bottom who it’s to, who it’s from, and it was given. When my daughter moves out (one day… sniff) she’ll take her nutcrackers with her and hopefully keep the tradition alive with her family.
This is another tradition that we didn’t grow up with but have started with our family. We decided to give each child an ornament that represents in some way the past year. For my daughter’s first Christmas she received a “Baby’s First Christmas 2014” ornament. Last year, in 2015, she got a Hawaiian Mickey and Minnie Mouse ornament because she went to Hawaii and Disney for the first time that year. This year she’ll get a Rapunzel ornament because this is the year she’s really gotten into Disney movies and the princesses- her favorites have been Rapunzel, Belle, and Ariel.
Christmas is such a magical time of year and traditions really help to keep the magic alive all season long! I’d love to hear from you in the comments- what are some of your family’s favorite Christmas traditions?