Revisiting Christmas traditions

I’ve written quite a few posts about Christmas Traditions that I’d like to instill in our family, as well as pondering different ways that other families do things around Christmastime.  Over the past few years, some traditions have stuck like glue, and others have been swept to the side.  We’ve replaced some traditions that didn’t work so well with new traditions.

Here are some of the posts I’ve written, for reference:

2007 Holiday Traditions: Making it Magical
2007 Pondering Presents
2007 What does YOUR Santa bring? 
2008 Christmas Traditions
2011 New Christmas Traditions

Here are the Traditions that have stuck for 2012:

  • Elf on the Shelf.   This little guy was introduced into our family in 2008 and about 2 years ago Bob joined our family as well.   The boys LOVE hunting for the elves in the morning and I think this will be a tradition we will continue.
  • Mini Tree in the bedroom:  The kids each have their own mini tree with lights in their bedrooms (Amelia’s does not have ornaments yet… but will next year!)
  • Book Basket:  We have TONS of Christmas books (i’d say about 30?  40?)  And one year I did wrap 25 of them to unwrap as an “advent” type of activity
  • Christmas Eve Candlelight service at Westwinds
  • Getting a new ornament every year (we usually get numerous… a new ornament from any vacation we go on, one for each kid and usually one as a “family or couple”)
  • New PJ’s on Christmas Eve
  • Cutting down our Christmas Tree:  This tradition I wanted to begin when Porter was little, but somehow we just kept pushing it aside and the fake tree was so easy to use.  This year, however, we began the tradition and will continue!
  • I hope we’ll continue the decorating Christmas cookies with cousins on Christmas Eve
We are still pretty closely implementing 3 of the 4 Traditions that the Anderson’s use:
  •  Each little person gets their own wrapping paper.  None of the gifts are marked.  Christmas morning they find a piece of wrapping paper at the bottom of their stocking that matches the wrapping paper on their presents. 
  • Each kiddo is getting 3 gifts from us Want/Need/Surprise… although technically this year they’re getting 4 gifts, and not necessarily along the lines of want/need/surprise.  They also get a gift from each of their siblings.  Porter and Hudson each get to shop for their own siblings, so it makes the gift giving more personal.  
  • Christmas Eve PJ’s (though we don’t open a “read” present because we have so many other gosh darn Christmas books!

I also spent a LOT of time pondering presents and how much was enough, how much was too much… how much should be from us, from Santa etc….. So far this has been working for us the past few years:

Santa bring one “big” gift for each kiddo (this year they are getting scooters), and fills the stockings.  He also brings 2-3 smaller ($10ish) gifts that are wrapped in special “santa” paper (red paper with white HO HO HO on it).   That is all Santa brings.  Us parents want credit too!!  

We get the kids 3-4 gifts as well as a gift from each sibling for a total of 6 presents to open Christmas morning.  I do wrap our presents ahead of time and put them out under the tree throughout the month, but the past 2 years have not put names on the presents but instead “coded” each child with their own wrapping paper.  They don’t know which paper belongs to whom, and won’t find out until Christmas morning when they find the little piece of wrapping paper in the bottom of their stocking.

So, what are YOUR Christmas traditions?  I’d love to know what special things you and your family do year after year, as well as how you determine the gift giving.   Leave me some comments… I’m feeling lonely here on the blog!

  1. we don't do the elf but i think it's so cute seeing what everyone comes up with. 🙂 i don't know if i could keep up with it. maybe i'll try next year.we do an advent activity every day… the kids are supposed to pull a little card that says what it is out of the calendar every morning, but truthfully half the time i forget to put that in the calendar (i kind of plan it day-by-day depending on what we have going on). so some days max just asks what we are doing today. 🙂 i use that for big traditional things like baking cookies, a gingerbread house, getting our tree, etc. then we do little things like listen to christmas music while we have dinner by candlelight, have christmas ice cream, or drive around and look at lights. some days when we're pretty busy it might just be 'read a christmas book by the tree' or if i need to keep them busy for a bit, they might watch the grinch or rudolph movies. and every once in awhile i'll just do a little gift, like xmas socks or something.i got them each a mini tree this year and they have them in their rooms and get to use them as nightlights (but their lights are battery-operated and i'm going through AAs like crazy!! 🙂 one day for advent they got stars for the top of their trees – i might do ornaments if i can grab some at target, or we might make our own this weekend.they're getting new PJs for christmas eve (that's a first for us this year), and we'll read 'the night before christmas' by the tree and let them drink something fancy out of champagne glasses.for gifts… we don't really have many traditions. i like to keep the santa gifts minimal too (like one bigger thing, 1-2 smaller things and stockings). from us… this year i got the kids one huge gift to share, and so didn't buy them much else. they'll have a few other small gifts – some things are needs, like clothes, or things for activities, like a hockey jersey for max and a gymnastics outfit for vivi… i tried to stay away from more toys! we don't do a lot with toys in general because they get so much from grandparents, too. also i did buy them new car seats (which were needed anyway) and those will be “gifts” too – vivi will be THRILLED to have a new 'big' seat like max's – that's pink! 🙂 ha.i usually don't wrap them and put them out ahead of time because i feel like my kids would totally mess with them. 🙂 i like the different paper idea, though!

  2. We started the Elf on the Shelf this year, and I think it will be a fun tradition to continue. There are a few other things we do too: Cut down a tree (though we didn't this year. Blah), make cut-out Christmas cookies together, kids receive an ornament every year for Christmas, we have our own family Christmas on Christmas Eve morning, candy advent calendars (tho I'm gonna start a “family activity” advent calendar next year), go see the Nite Lights at the fairgrounds… I'm big into traditions too, when it comes to Christmastime anyway. I want to make memories for my kids that will last a lifetime, and instill some fun things that hopefully they will one day do with their own children. We will probably add to our list of traditions. 🙂

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