The best part of the holiday season for me as a kid was the memorable family Christmas traditions. I think the thing that makes this time of year so magical is all the awesome stuff you get to do to lead up to Christmas. Of course getting and giving gifts on the 25th is what we all wait for. But it’s everything you get to do for the weeks before with friends and family that make the holiday season so special.
Christmas traditions are what I look forward to every year above all else. I want to make memories with my kids that they’ll remember when they’re older. And I want to have memories to share with Jake when the kids are grown.
It’s important to remember Christmas is so much more than just spending a ton of money. It’s about taking advantage of the extra time with our family, the excitement of surprising one another, having the ability to give to others, and teaching our kids about the first Christmas miracle, the birth of Jesus.
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Christmas music begins ~
Yes I am that person and I don’t care. Starting November 1st of every year you better believe you can hear the Christmas jams from at least a block radius around my house. I only get two months every year to listen to my favorite Christmas songs so I absolutely take advantage of every second of it.
decorate the house and tree together ~
Again, I only get two months to enjoy our pretty Christmas decor so I’m not going to waste a second. Usually the first Friday or Saturday of every November we’ll order in, crank the music, and drag the Christmas totes out of the basement. Digging out the same old ornaments every year is bound to bring back wonderful memories while enjoying making new ones!
Operation Christmas Child ~
This is where you fill up a shoebox with necessities and goodies for kids in third world countries. This is one of my absolute favorite traditions so we make a big deal out of it. This year along with the kids packing their own boxes, Jake and I decided to join in on the fun and pack two boxes for older kids as well. It’s such a special opportunity to teach the kids how important and fun it is to give gifts instead of just receiving them.
Christmas shopping ~
I always start shopping early so I can get the best deals and I just really love shopping. I pick out things I’d like to get for the kids or Jake and put them in a list on Amazon. Then, when Amazon tells me the price went down I’ll buy it. I also give Jake some of the Christmas budget to get each of the kids something special. The kids get to pick something out for each other and Jake and I. I want them to love giving gifts as much as they love getting them so this is an important tradition for us.
kids advent calendar ~
When Oliver was little we started the tradition of wrapping up twenty-four Christmas books. He would unwrap one every night and we would read it before bed. The only thing is it would get really expensive to buy twenty-four new books every year. So what I usually do is buy a few new ones every year, borrow some from the library, and reuse the Christmas books we had from the year before. The kids don’t really notice because they haven’t read the books in a whole year.
Related → Christmas Book Advent Calendar for Kids
baking cookies ~
Growing up, my mom always went nuts with the amount of cookies she made every year. She would make every kind of Christmas cookie there is and buckets on buckets of them. While I don’t make the amount she does every year, I love baking cookies with the kids and giving them away! We take the to the neighbors, the post office, the garbage men, and anyone else we can think of and stuff our faces with the rest.
family trip to the mall ~
I love walking around the mall at Christmas time. I have no idea why since everything is usually overpriced and way too crowded. But it doesn’t feel like Christmas until we get to the mall and see all the pretty decorations. The hustle and bustle combined with the music and lights is an instant way to get into the holiday spirit.
new Christmas ornament ~
Every year the kids get to pick out a new ornament for the tree. This is something we did every year when I was growing up. Then after the kids grow up and move out they get to take all the ornaments they collected over the years. Again, this is a great way to make memories for years to come as kids grow and collect more ornaments. Some day they will drag out the old Christmas tote and pull out the ornament that they got when they were a kid and pass it along to their own child to put on the Christmas tree.
Christmas lights drive ~
The kids think it’s so cool to drive around at night and stay up past their bedtime. Especially when we find the houses that go all out with Christmas lights. Not only is it a fun time but it makes you feel better about not having to impress the kids with going the whole nine yards with your own house. My husband is especially grateful for this as he’s convinced he’ll fall and break his neck if he climbs the ladder more than four feet off the ground to hang the lights.
build a ginger bread house ~
The kids love this one. I like to get the Mini Village Gingerbread House kit so the kids can each do two. They mostly eat the candy and make a mess but we always end up with cute little lopsided houses to display.
new Christmas pjs ~
We love getting new pjs every year, even Jake and I. Last year I got Oliver and Jake matching reindeer footies pajamas and it was the best thing ever.
Christmas movies ~
When we’re not outside or playing games we always have one of our favorite Christmas movies playing on the tv. Then once the kids are in bed Jake and I always watch Elf (my all time favorite Christmas movie).
hide the Christmas Pickle ~
This is seriously the weirdest thing ever. But we always did it when I was a kid and it was so much fun. If you have no idea what I’m talking about it’s just a pickle Christmas ornament that you hide in the tree. Then the kids try to find it and whoever gets it first gets a special prize. Jake looked at me like I was crazy when I pitched this to him. I have no idea where the idea came from but it’s a real thing I promise.
make your own pizza ~
Since we have a nice dinner on Christmas day we decided to do something casual on Christmas Eve. We get a bunch of different toppings, buy little personal pizza crusts, and everyone gets to make their own pizza. It’s nice all sit down and have fun making our pizzas together. And this way mom doesn’t have to make dinner all by herself while everyone else is off having fun.
everyone goes downstairs together ~
On Christmas morning everyone has to wait at the top of the stairs until we’re all ready to go down. Since it’s the first time the kids (and Jake) get to see all the gifts under the tree I love to go with them and watch their faces as they try to figure out who got the biggest box.
stockings first ~
In our family we’ve always started with the stockings. It’s like warming up for the big gifts while mom and dad get the coffee maker going.
take turns opening gifts one at a time ~
I want our kids to learn it’s not as much fun if everyone just rips their gifts open within ten minutes. It’s so much better to take our time and enjoy receiving and giving gifts. When you’re a kid it’s such an adrenaline rush to rip through everything. But by setting a slow pace everyone can enjoy the gift giving that much more.
special Christmas breakfast ~
After everyone’s opened their gifts and the kids are playing with all their new stuff, I make a huge fancy breakfast. One that usually ends with a ridiculous amount of dishes in the sink. But it’s only one day and year and Jake’s home to do the dishes part so why not.
big Christmas dinner ~
While I wouldn’t mind having pizza two nights in a row, on Christmas we have a nice sit down family dinner. It’s the perfect way to end the day. Especially when everyone falls asleep on the living room floor together watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”.