One of my favorite things about the Holiday Season, is all of the traditions we’ve made over the years as a family. Some are traditions we have carried over from our past as children, and some are those we’ve made on our own! These are some of my personal favs AND some really great traditions from a few of my favorite people!
Light Looking: We go near and far to drive and see elaborate displays of Christmas lights. A few nights a week we bundle the boys up, toss on our jammies, and hit the road. Most of the time spent is with the flashers on driving 5 mph but, we don’t ever want to go back home. It’s always great to check out your local online news articles to find which homes in your area have been voted BEST in neighborhood light display competitions!
Santa’s Bells: This is a favorite of mine! Once the littles are down for bed on Christmas Eve, grab your top secret Santa bell and jingle it outside of their window(s)! Just be sure to hurry back inside before they come looking for you! This is something my dad actually does for us since he crashes at our home on Christmas Eve and he gets so much joy in doing it!
Kids’ Gift Exchange: Before having a huge family of our own and hosting events at our house, every year at Thanksgiving my entire extended family would throw all of their kids’ names into a basket and let each child pick a name from the basket. Come Christmas Eve, we’d all get gather at my Aunt’s house and let the little one’s pass their gift off to the person who’s name they had chosen at Thanksgiving! Each kid gets a gift and it saves us from buying for every single little one in our family! This is such a great way to let your kids help in the excitement of choosing a gift for someone else! This is also great for classrooms, groups of friends who are basically like family, and church groups!
Christmas Jammies: We always love to find matching PJ’s to wear for Christmas Eve or holiday related events! It makes for awesome Christmas morning photos!
White Elephant Gift Exchange: For years, every Christmas Eve my entire extended family would gather at my Aunt’s for a huge family & friends Christmas party. Each couple is asked to bring one or two gifts to add into the gift exchange. All gifts have a min/max. dollar amount and must come wrapped. We count the total of gifts for the game, put a number in a basket for each gift, and everyone draws. Number 1 goes first of course at choosing any gift under the tree. They unwrap, and number 2 is next. Once number 2 has their turn, they can either choose to open another gift OR steal number 1’s gift. If they choose to take the opened gift from number 1, number 1 will unwrap another gift of their choice. Now, for number 3. Number 3 can either choose to open a gift OR take an opened gift from number 1 or number 2. This continues until everyone has either chosen or taken a gift. Now, for the twist! Once everyone has chosen/opened their gift, the game goes back to number 1. To finish the game, number 1 is allowed to either keep their gift OR choose ANY open gift from the game. *Gifts can only be in a total of four hands before it is “frozen” or out of play, and not allowed to be stolen again. A single turn continues until a wrapped gift is selected and unwrapped, even if a gift was stolen. When a gift is taken from you, you either take an already opened gift, or open a wrapped gift, to replace the gift you lost. A player can not immediately take back a gift that was just taken from him/her. The kids play with gifts they’ve opened from the Kid’s gift exchange and watch as the adults lose their minds fighting over gifts! It’s a win for everyone and by the time it’s over, the vast majority of kids are passed out and ready for bed!
Cookies for Santa: I’ve learned that it’s easier (and more fun), to make your cookies for Santa in a couple days’ time! We mix, cut, and bake our cookies a day or two before decorating! It gives me enough time to bake ALL of the batter so nothing goes to waste and the extra time also keeps a cleaner kitchen! Since I add the base coat of the icing onto the cookies myself, I usually do that first while my little guys sing and dance to Christmas music in the kitchen under my feet before letting him add their touch and do all the fun decorating the next day!
Christmas Brie: My mom makes an incredible raspberry brie croissant every Christmas Eve. It’s super easy and inexpensive to make but, a total showstopper and great for breakfast, snack, or after dinner! My kids adore this recipe! It’s a simple canned croissant dough by Pilsbury, rolled out with a cylinder of Brie cheese placed in the center, topped with raspberry preserves, croissant dough folded back over top, and baked until golden brown!
Stocking Collectors: Growing up, and still to this day, my aunt would collect a new set of stockings for their family every year and hang each years’ stockings across the shelf that runs through their home. I have long awaited the day for a family of my own to do the same. I try and make our stockings every year but, there are times I struggle between handmade and the gorgeous store bought ones!
Yearly Ornament: Every year, we choose an ornament for our family. The first year was an ornament with Col’s picture since he was born only a few weeks before Christmas. For all of the years following, we’ve done personalized ornaments with the date and all of our family’s names!
Visit Santa: This one is a given but, it’s often easily assumed that the only place to meet Santa is at your local mall or shopping center! Our kids actually aren’t big into meeting a “real” Santa so, we search and hunt for fun Santa stand-ins or statues! This one in Downtown Savannah on River St. has been our favorite to date! Think outside of the box when it comes to Santa! Local churches and downtown districts often hosts areas to meet or see Santa (real or frozen!).
Santa Wrapping: In the last few years we’ve started a new tradition in our home! One of the biggest oopsies my parents would slip on with the “Santa secret” was accidentally using the same wrapping paper on some gifts as the paper used on our gifts from them. This year I wanted to find a paper that would easily be found for years to come. After searching high and low, I decided on black poster paper from Hobby Lobby that comes in a HUGE roll for only $6! I used Santa’s “magic pen” (a permanent white chalk marker) to write the boys’ names in a fun font. Every year Santa will drop his gifts wrapped in the same paper each time he slides down our chimney!
Reindeer Food: This year, don’t forget to leave carrots, celery, or special treats out for Santa’s favorite pals on a plate near Santa’s cookies or out on your front porch!
Christmas Eve Box: Package up a box of goodies JUST for Christmas Eve that your littles can open! It starts the magic just a tiny bit early and it such a sweet tradition. We love to do this in our home around 8:00 when the boys have eaten, the house is quiet and dark, and everyone is anxious for Christmas morning! Our Christmas Eve box usually has PJ’s, a Christmas movie or book, a holiday themed mug for hot cocoa, popcorn, a small gift, and our yearly ornament all closed and wrapped in ONE box for the boys to open and unpack together! The boys hang the ornament on the tree, slide into their PJ’s and James reads a Christmas story to get them tired out to await Santa’s arrival!