15 Tried-and-True Family Christmas Traditions (and the local spots that make them extra special!)
Well, here we are, the last post before Christmas and also the last post of 2017! How crazy is that? I think, to wrap up the Christmas season, I’d like to share a bit about how we celebrate the holiday as a family. As I’ve mentioned before, I feel that family traditions are super important: they’re how we connect as a family, how we spend time together, how we make memories that literally last a lifetime. So here we go…15 Christmas Traditions, as celebrated by our little family, and with a bit of love for our local community, as always!
New Christmas Pajamas: This is usually the very first thing that happens every year. I buy two new sets of Christmas pj’s for each kid and we let them have them on Thanksgiving night. Most of the time I get these from Target or Amazon, but I think I am going to start checking Cutie Patootie children’s re-sale store for them from now on. I like the idea of recycling/reusing rather than buying new and the cost-savings doesn’t hurt either!
Homemade Countdown Chains or Advent Calendars: Sometimes it’s a simple chain with red and green construction paper (the Christmas tree chains pictured here are a bit more complicated than my chains, but they sure are cute!), sometimes it’s a cute Santa advent calendar, and this year it’s a Christmas tree made with poster board and ornaments that we printed and colored ourselves.
Local Christmas Events: I’m sure you guys have figured out by now that I am just IN LOVE with Boerne. We have lived a lot of places and nowhere has been as amazing as this little town of ours when it comes to holiday activities for the family. Our favorites are Dickens on Main, Don Strange Ranch Christmas Light Fest, and The Christmas Town. When our kids are a bit older, we’ll venture into San Antonio to check out the lights on the Riverwalk and Santa's Railroad Wonderland. We'd also love to experience the giant German Christmas Pyramid on Marktplatz in Fredericksburg, Santa's Ranch in New Braunfels, and the Walkway of Lights at Lakeside Park in Marble Falls. Talk about a fun bucket list!
Christmas Movies: We have a massive collection of Christmas movies that really started before we ever even had kids! The kids love Frosty, Rudolph, Charlie Brown, The Polar Express, etc. We, of course, love those but also National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, Elf, and soooooo many others. We might have a Christmas movie problem around here…sorry, not sorry!
New Ornaments: Each of the kids get a new ornament that's just for them. Since they're still small, I try to choose an ornament for each of them that really speaks to their personality or reflects something that they’re “into”. Their very first Christmas ornament is usually related to the theme of their nursery. This year, our oldest’s ornament is Moana because she.is.obsessed. Our Big Boy’s ornament is Lightning McQueen with a Santa hat, for the same reason. And Baby’s ornament is a Christmas bulldozer because he is just such a brute! I’m sure that as they get older, they will start to pick out their own ornaments, but for now, this is something I really enjoy doing for them.
25 Books of Christmas: This is one of our favorite traditions. The idea is that you wrap 25 Christmas books and they go under the tree on Dec 1st (thrift stores, facebook yard sale pages, etc are great places to find these books without breaking the bank!). Then, each night, the kids choose one to unwrap and read. One tip: make sure to mark any special books that you reserve for a specific night so that you know when that one should be opened!
Christmas Trees in the Kids’ Rooms: There's just something magical about being a kid and falling asleep by the light of a Christmas tree. We use tiny table-top trees and let the kiddos do the decorating (mostly) themselves. They LOVE it. We put them on a timer (which you can buy at Home Depot or on Amazon) so that they turn off after an hour or so at bed-time.
Santa Pictures: I am so grateful that since we moved to Texas, we have not stood in a single line to get our Santa Pictures. Hallelujah! and a HUGE thank you to Landers Photography for making this holiday tradition so much more enjoyable. If you missed the blog post about how that works, you can find it here.
The Nutcracker Ballet: This has always been a tradition for just my husband and I; we would make a date night out of it with a nice dinner beforehand. However, our oldest is big enough this year that we were able to take her with us, which was a lot of fun. You can read all about our Nutcracker family day-date (and find dates/times you can still catch the Nutcracker this year) here! And here's a couple of photos of what our Nutcracker dates looked like THEN and NOW. Hahahaha!
Gingerbread House Decorating: This is really so much fun and keeps the kids entertained for HOURS. Seriously, it takes a couple of days for them to finish (we worked on it after dinner for two or three nights last year) and it’s a fun collaborative project for all of us.
Christmas Cookies: Before kids, I used to bake DOZENS of homemade Christmas cookies of every variety, carefully package them up, and ship them back home to all my family and friends in Oklahoma. Now that we have three little ones though, this tradition has become much more simplified: we bake cookies for Santa as a family on Christmas Eve. Last year this meant we broke apart the pre-made cookie dough from the grocery store, stuck them on a cookie sheet, and shoved them in the oven. Did the kids (or Santa) care that they weren’t homemade? Nope, not one bit!
Christmas Light Walk: We have been lucky enough since moving to Boerne that we’ve always lived in a neighborhood with lots of Christmas lights. So, each year on Christmas Eve, we go for a Christmas light walk after dinner. Of course, hot cocoa is in order once we get back home!
Twas the Night Before Christmas: My husband reads this book to our kids only on Christmas Eve. It’s a special book for our family and one they wait for all season long. Usually when we’re doing bed-time stories, one of us is busy cleaning up after dinner/getting ready for the next day, but on Christmas Eve we all sit together and enjoy the magic of the story.
Christmas Breakfast…the Easy Way: I’m sure this is the same all across America, but our Christmas morning always begins bright and early with the kids running into our room and dying to open their gifts. Making a big Christmas breakfast is just not a priority at that point. So, we’ve learned to outsource Christmas breakfast…it saves us time, keeps the kitchen clean for making Christmas dinner later, and is seen as a bit of a special treat by our kids. Our go-to local bakeries for this are Snowflake Donuts and Bear Moon Bakery. We stop in on Christmas Eve and pick up everything we need (usually kolaches/pig in a blankets, donuts, and danishes) then refrigerate it until Christmas morning. We also will usually pick up a fruit bowl and orange juice and champagne (for mimosas, of course!) at the grocery store. Voila! Christmas breakfast is served!
Christmas Dinner: No Christmas is complete without Christmas dinner with the family. Usually this means us and our kids, the grandparents, and if we’re lucky, the aunts and uncles get to come in for the holiday too. There’s usually Christmas movies or music on in the background, plenty of wine, and tons of food to be had. Sometimes we'll take a walk together after dinner and there's almost always a few rounds (okay, a lot of rounds) of Mexican Train after the kids go to bed.
So there we have it: our family's 15 favorite Christmas traditions. Seems like a lot, but I'm sure that when you stop to think about it, there's probably a lot that your family does every year that you didn't even realize have become "traditions"! So tell me, which one is your favorite now? Your kid's favorite? What family tradition from your childhood do you remember being your favorite?
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