I’m having a hard time believing that we are in the last few days of November! So, as December 1st is around the corner (I mean, seriously, it’s on Thursday) I wanted to share with y’all my top 10 favorite Christmas Traditions that I encourage you to start! (They are in no particular order, I might add). Let me know in the comments below what your favorite traditions are.
#1 – Advent Calendar (Tree)
This is probably the most popular tradition there is when it comes to Christmas. There is always an advent calendar of some sort. When I was growing up, my dad would always bring us home the Chocolate advent calendars. Being the sibling that usually followed the rules, I would eat a piece of chocolate every day after school. My brother, however, who has always marched to the strum of his own mandolin, would usually end up eating however many he wanted to eat on whatever day he wanted to eat them! In any case, it was always something we looked forward to, as it marked the beginning of the Christmas season. Now a days there are so many other advent calendars available. The advent tree pictured above is one that I made with a group of lovely girls a few weekends ago! We ordered the wooden trees online and decorated each door with scrap booking paper and different types of stickers and festive embellishments. The little drawers are actually a decent size, so you can fit legos, dinkies, nail polish or hair bows! I don’t have any children yet but I will get great use of this until then by filling it with mine and Kyle’s favorite treats!
#2 – That’s a Wrap! Christmas Movies
I adore this idea! Wrap your Christmas DVDs with pretty Christmas wrapping paper. Depending on how many movies you have, start unwrapping a movie every night in December, and watch the one you unwrap. This is helpful when you just aren’t sure which movie you want to watch! It eliminates the decision-making (which I am awful with) and let’s be real, tearing wrapping paper off of anything is just straight up fun. For us, we watch the movie Elf every year while decorating our tree. So, if you have a special movie in your family as well, I recommend wrapping it in a different color paper, or adding a gift tag with the name of the film, so you can find it easily when you are ready to watch it. This is also a great idea to do with Christmas children’s books if you have kids! It is a great way to encourage them to read, and there is an endless list of sweet Christmas stories for children. Speaking of Christmas books…
#3 – A Good Christmas Read
There are some classic Christmas stories that make my heart warm. In 2003, a book called The House of Wooden Santas by Kevin Major was republished. I was in 5th grade, I believe, when my teacher introduced us to the story. The author is a fellow Newfoundlander, which makes the book that much more special. I fell in love with the story and the concept, and told my mom I just had to have it! Each chapter was a day in December. So, for a few Christmases, my mom and I would read one chapter each night of December. Of course, as I got older (Jr. High was around the corner), the tradition ended, as it wasn’t deep-rooted to begin with. I still adore the book, and love the idea of the Christmas tradition to start with your children, or to read to yourself once a night. Sometimes you just don’t have the time to start reading a novel, but this gets you reading a little every night, and it definitely puts you in the Christmas spirit. Another great classic tradition to do is to read The Night Before Christmas to your family on Christmas Eve. You can’t get more traditional than that!
#4 – Christmas Lights of Town
One of my favorite things to do is drive around town and admire all of the Christmas lights and decorations. This is something I remember doing quite often as a child! I always loved it when we would get candy cane hot chocolate and drive around for a while, oohing and ahhing over extravagant light displays. In very recent years, a small town outside of St. John’s have decorated their boats with Christmas lights. It takes about an hour to get there, but the drive is so completely worth it when you see the beautiful colors reflecting off the water. It makes for beautiful photos and its true to our culture. It is always really special knowing that many people do not have the opportunity to admire that type of beauty. Spending time with your family admiring Christmas lights is a great way to open conversation, reminisce about Christmases past, and just bask in the Christmas spirit!
#5 – T’was the Night Before Christmas
There’s nothing at all more exciting than the anticipation and pure joy that Christmas Eve Night brings. You’ll hear me talk about Christmas Eve traditions several more times throughout this post, as it is the most popular evening during the season to carry out traditions. One I’ve always loved is that my grandmother would make me and my brother a pair of Christmas Pajamas each year, and we would finally get to wear them on Christmas Eve! I’m talking the most beautiful pajamas one has ever seen, all sewn together with Nanny Marg’s love. It was something we looked forward to every year. A spin on this little tradition is to actually make a Christmas Eve box! Fill the box with a pair of Christmas pajamas, a favorite Christmas movie or book (or both), a Christmas snack and a special ornament for the tree! This is a box you can refill and your children can open every year on Christmas Eve! How stinkin’ cute is that?
#6 – Cookies and
Carrots Reindeer Food
I think the poor Reindeer are ready for something more than a carrot between the nine of them! That’s where Reindeer Food comes in! I remember when I was younger, I was given Reindeer Food one day after Sunday School. On Christmas Eve, as I was bubbling with excitement (and riddled with anxiety that a big fat man in red was about to intrude), I bundled up in my puffy navy winter coat, with fur along the hood, and, while my mom watched and photographed the event, I spun in circles on my snow-covered front lawn sprinkling the Reindeer Food, which was a mixture of oatmeal and glitter. I remember just how beautiful the glitter looked on the white snow. I was sure that the Reindeer would LOVE this new treat, and I was so pleased that the glitter would light up to show Santa the way to my house (although, as I said, there were definitely some mixed feelings on that). After laying cookies out for Santa, have your children sprinkle the Reindeer food outside. It just brings a little magic back into the special night.
#7 – Annual Ornament
Since 2013, Kyle and I have hung an annual ornament on our tree. I always purchase a sparkly frame ornament that displays the year and I place a current photo of us in there. It is so precious to look back at each ornament and see our sweet baby faces. I’ve just picked up our 2016 frame and I can’t wait to add a photo and hang it on our tree. Its going to be really cool when I have children and they can look back at old photos of their parents before them, as in love as ever. This doesn’t have to be a photo ornament though! Another great idea is to pick out a beautiful ornament every year, as a family (or as a couple). Be sure to write the date on the bottom, and if you’d like, you can add a message about that year to reflect back on each Christmas. Your tree will slowly become its very own time capsule of sorts, and each ornament will have sentimental value that your family can enjoy for years and years. There are so many special ornaments on my parent’s tree that I adore hanging every year.
#8 – Christmas Cards – Family Photos
Both of these ideas are extremely common for Christmas. You send out Christmas cards and often you sit pretty in front of a fire-place and take a group family photo! What I’ve done for the past two years is take our little family photos and turn them into our Christmas cards that we send out to our family and friends! Sure, it may seem a little conceded if one is to assume that absolutely everyone is just dying to see our faces for Christmas! But in all honesty, in our case, a lot of our family members are in the United States and we don’t get to see them very often at all. I would love to receive photos of all my family and friends in North Carolina and Mississippi (and in other parts of Canada too) during Christmas. This year its going to be a little different. As Kyle is away, we are going to be taking a different spin on our family photo! I fully intend on sharing the final result with you once it is completed, so stay tuned to find out how we made our Christmas family photo equally as special despite the distance!
#9 – Sibling Sleepover
Every year, my grandparents drive across the island to St. John’s, to spend Christmas with their family. They have always rotated week to week between my home and my cousin’s homes to spend time with each of us. As we didn’t have a guest bedroom in my childhood home, when they would stay with us for Christmas Eve, I would bunk in my brother’s room! When we were little, it was exciting! We would talk about what we thought Santa would bring, and we’d make a bet to see who would be awake first! It was usually me. When one of us did wake up, we’d wake the other and then tip toe to the living room, and scope out all the presents under the tree! I would go into my parents bedroom and let them know Santa had come! And, as if I was their own personal snooze button, I would tell them that we were going to grab our stockings and open them first! They’d fall back to sleep and Travis and I would sit on the bed and dump the contents of our stockings all around us. This formed a tradition for us. One that I always look back on and cherish. If you have children, help them build a blanket fort in one of the bedrooms, decorate it with lights, put on a Christmas movie for them and let them have a sibling slumber party! It really makes memories, and, as if Christmas couldn’t get any more amazing, it adds more anticipation and excitement for them! It did for me, anyway. If you have an only child, make them a blanket fort anyway, because blanket forts are the best.
#10 – Famous Home Videos – Christmas Edition
Last Christmas Eve, my family sat around the living room and watched old home videos of us during Christmas time. I am so thankful that my parents invested in a video camera the year they were married. This meant that from the time my brother was born until I was about 13 or 14 (and he 15 or 16) special events and sweet moments were caught on film. Most of the time, the video footage is cringe-worthy, with awful 90s clothing and hairdos, and no one likes the sound of their own voice! But, I am so beyond grateful that every year Christmas morning was filmed. Dad would set the camera in the corner (or held it, which meant little footage of him), and caught of the squeals of excitement from me and my brother as we tore through wrapping paper and saw what Santa had brought for the firs time. Also on video were all of the school Christmas concerts we participated in. We laughed hysterically at the absolutely ridiculous or embarrassing things we said as kids, pointed out all of our friends and gasped at how young we all looked. There are some moments filmed that are heart-warming peppered with sadness, as we watched those special people in our lives speak and move, that have since passed. It can become pretty emotional. This is by far my favorite Christmas tradition to date. I loved every moment of watching them with my family, laughing and crying together. It does something for the soul. It was also really cool that Kyle got to get a glimpse into my past, as a child. I strongly recommend that if you are a new family with no previous footage, go out and get a camera or just press record on your phone! You will cherish those recorded moments years from now. I will be using my video camera this year!
Those are my top 10 favorite Christmas traditions that I recommend for everyone to start! It’s the most wonderful time of the year for a reason. When you spend time with your family and friends and really participate in all the amazing festivities, you’ll never forget why. I am always looking for new ways to celebrate the holidays! I would love to hear your favorite traditions, so don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you like to do during Christmas!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,