One of my favorite parts of being a parent is establishing and celebrating traditions as a family.
And it’s funny because some things that we never really even intended to become traditions have become just that–expected, every year events that my kids eagerly anticipate.
Though I’ve written about them here and there over the years, this year I’m dragging them all out.
Each and every one of our holiday traditions.
All of the holiday traditions that make our family rock.
Or at least we think so.
These are traditions that make our family the unique and awesome and completely imperfect group that we are.
Because when it comes down to it, it’s all about what matters most, right?
Here’s the skinny. . .
- Holiday Traditions that Make Our Family Rock–What Matters Most:
For us, it’s family time.
Time spent together, doing things that often don’t cost much money at all.
Our holiday traditions are pretty awesome:
- Advent Activity Calendar: We do this every year, and it becomes the map for our December full of fun and tradition.
- Breakfast with Santa: At our church each season, we have a chance to throw back some seriously awesome pancakes and sausage, chat with friends, and support our parish.
- Find the pickle ornament: The ole pickle hides in our tree every year, and the first kid who finds it gets a ‘special’ gift.
- Kissing reindeer hunt: Part of our Advent Activity Calendar, the kissing reindeer hunt is always a fave of my kids.
- Cookie-baking day: Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I take a break from life and spend the entire day–start to finish–baking, baking, and baking!
- Make candy wreaths for schools: Our school and my husband’s school always loves this gift that we try to deliver early in the month so that there’s time to eat it! Though by the end, everyone’s fingers are way tired of tying, it’s always a really fun family project.
- Give shoebox gifts to less fortunate: Our local homeless shelter and church manage this event, which involves us filling shoeboxes with items for those less fortunate. We have organized events with our pals to make preparing, filling, and wrapping these boxes more fun and meaningful.
- Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve: Each and every Christmas Eve, the kids get one present to open, and they always know what it will be: new pajamas.
- Empty Give Jars for needy: Though we’re admittedly not as great with our Spend, Save, and Give Jars as I’d like, the kids do tend to keep a small amount in their Give Jar. We empty the contents in December and give it to a Salvation Army Collection point, near a local grocery store.
- Homemade ornaments for family: We not only love unwrapping our homemade ornies each year, but we also really love giving our homemade ornies to friends and family.
- Family photo album: The kids know that each year they’ll find one fun photo album under the tree. It’s my personal deadline, and I’ve really brought it down to a science, the whole creating of the family photo books. It’s a lot easier than you think to make these, and the payoff? Huge.
- Look at holiday lights: Usually when the kids least expect it, we’ll have them throw on their shoes (maybe even over pjs!), jump in the car, and take a gander around our ‘hood, in search of the most beautiful holiday light display.
- Holiday cards on kitchen door: We send a ton of holiday cards, and we are truly grateful to receive a ton of holiday cards. As we receive the cards, we tape them to the kitchen door. We all love it–as the season progresses, our door becomes filled with our friends’ and family members’ smiling faces.
- Ugly Breakfast on Christmas morning: Ugly Breakfast is called so because the kids think it’s ugly. And it is. But it tastes oh. So. Delicious. More like a French Toast bake, it may be ugly, but man, it’s sinful.
- Holiday card family assembly line: We do all of our holiday cards–well over 100–in one night. We have the family assembly line down to a science. One person adds address labels, another person stuffs envelopes. Another person adds stamps, another person adds the return address stamp, and the final person seals the envelope. Bam. There’s no actual handwriting. Don’t judge.
- Holiday movies and hot cocoa: Our favorite way to spend an evening in December: Elf, Home Alone, or another holiday favorite and mugs of hot cocoa. Okay, or ice cream. Anything will do as long as it’s sweet.
- Santa cookie tray and plate: Before the kid go up to bed, they put cookies on our Santa plate and Santa tray for the jolly ole guy. The we go grab our book.
- Read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve: We have several versions of this book, as well as a reading of it from my parents. We read through them all, savoring each and every word. We listen to my crazy fun parents read their version, and then it’s off to bed!
- Wrap gifts and watch Love Actually with my sweetheart: One–or two–or three nights before Christmas, my husband and I turn on one of our favorite holiday films and wrap gifts until we can no longer stand to keep our eyes open or see another piece of tape and curling ribbon. Yes, there are a boatload of holiday movies, but this is our absolute fave.
- Have kids participate in the Gospel Drama for our church: We’ve gone from the sheep in the wandering flock to angels to shepherds to Angel Gabriel over the years, and each year is better than the next.
New Year’s traditions I’ve talked about before:
- Bingo bonanza: Bingo every New Year’s Eve, and it must involve tons of tiny, inexpensive wrapped gifts for winners. Start saving scraps of wrapping paper because it’s great to use for Bingo Bonanza gifts!
- New Year’s Family Interview: Love this. Simple, quick, and a fun snapshot into everyone’s year.
- New Year’s Day fondue: A favorite of ours, we do fondue for New Year’s Day, and it gets easier and easier each year.
Want to download our happy little holiday traditions printable? You most certainly may: holiday traditions that rock teachmama.com poster
The coolest part of these traditions is that they’ve been taken from here, there, and everywhere. Some are ours–all ours. And others have come from my parents or my husband’s parents or from friends.
But together, they make our little, crazy family totally rock.
I’m biased, I know, but whatever.
Pin it for later:
Need a few more great holiday ideas?
Here are our 2015 gift guides:
Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities?
Click on the images below:
- Holiday Fun Fact and JOKES Lunchbox Notes (with Hannukah!)
- Holiday Time Fun Fact Lunchbox Notes
- Little Holiday Notes and Jokes
- Holiday Notes for Families
- The Polar Express tradition
- Scratch-off Cards
- K-Cup Advent Tree
- New Year’s Family Interview
- Happy Holidays Backyard Birds
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