Christmas is all about family. Spending time with those you love most and creating memories they’ll cherish for a lifetime. Does that always happen? No. #momlife. Do I often put unrealistic expectations on myself and my family for loving every moment of these experiences? Yes. I was scrolling Instagram, and a quote struck me. “Am I a perfect mom? No. Am I trying to be a perfect mom? Also no. I think this rings so true during the Christmas season. We want our kids to have a magical childhood they look back on with pride, but there’s only so many hours in a day. We do what we can, and guess what? Our kids see it and remember it. It’s sticking with them, I promise. It’s the little things that they remember…which in all honesty, takes the pressure off! When all is said and done, and another holiday passes us by just as quickly as it came, I know these 5 Christmas traditions were things we enjoyed and will continue to look forward to doing again year after year.
I also did a whole podcast episode giving more details and stories about each of these traditions, so go listen here!
My 5 Favorite Christmas Traditions
1. Christmas Eve Pajamas and a New Book
I’m obsessed with Christmas jammies. I think this stems from me always fantasizing about matching my daughters in Christmas dresses and bows…and when I had a son, that dream had to be changed. But I can totally dress them in matching Christmas jams, and I will do it until they really pitch a fit right?.
The kids get Christmas pajamas to wear throughout the year starting the day after Thanksgiving. They are mostly winter themed and then I save my favorites to give them on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve comes with two presents: their matching Christmas pajamas and a new Christmas book. I give each kid a Christmas book that both my husband and I write a little Christmas love note in. Just a favorite memory of the year, a wish for the next year, something we’re proud of, etc. I love that this tradition builds their Christmas book libraries and they can one day enjoy these books with their own kids!
Full disclosure…my sister and I still get Christmas pjs at 29 and 33…just keeping the tradition alive!
2. Elf on the Shelf…with a Kindness Twist
Like many families, we love our Elf on the Shelf. Her name is Sparkle and we look forward to her return every year! This year I wanted to do something different with our elf and try and get the biggest bang for my parenting buck, and after being inspired by the Kindness Challenge Ashley from Little Hands Can does (you can hear all about it and her other amazing ideas for teaching kids to give back in her podcast episode!). As I was listening to her describe what she does with her boys, I immediately knew we’d do our own version with our Elf!
I wrote a whole blog post about this, but I’ll give the jist here too! We started our Elf experience this year with her coming with Santa sacks for the kids to fill with old toys they wanted to gift to other little boys and girls. They did such a good job filling their sacks! Totally a proud mom day!
Sparkle took the sacks to Santa that night, and each morning following, she’s left a Kindness Challenge Card. Each card challenges the kids to do something kind for others, (i.e. give a friend a compliment, hold the door for a friend, or call your grandparents and tell them you love them). Super easy little acts of kindness that don’t require a ton of parenting involvement! My kind of challenge!
Download your free Elf on the Shelf Kindness Cards below!
3. Christmas Lights and Participating in Community Christmas Events
I love trying to get out and take advantage of the events our community provides during the holidays! I’m going to share some of our favorite local events, but for the non Seattle peeps, ask around and see if you can find some fun festive events around you!
My one piece of advice? Just go. Yes, these events are crowded. Yes, parking is annoying and yes they can be at inconvenient times. BUT watching the magic of the event on your kid’s face is priceless. There is just nothing like it so I encourage you to go out and just try one this year and see what happens!
Our two favorites are seeing the light show at Evergreen Church, a local church to us that puts on a massive National Lampoon Christmas Vacation style show. They go all out and they have these insanely delicious brown butter chocolate chip cookies. Oh.my.lord. Talk about heaven. The kids look forward this show every year, and so do I!
We also love going to Starbucks, getting cocoa, and driving around different neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights. My friend, Laura Orlando, (listen to her podcast episode too!) shared her favorite family tradition with us- a Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt! She has a free printable for this that is SO fun. The kids had an absolute blast looking for their items to cross out. It made driving around just a little more fun and engaging too!
Another one of our favorite events is Snowflake Lane. It is the actual best. It’s basically Christmas Disneyland. One of my favorite parenting moments is seeing the magic of Disney for the first time through your kids’ eyes. Snowflake Lane reminds me of that so I love it and could cry watching the kids stare at the snow falling from the sky with such wonder on their faces. There’s music, dancing, Santa, and snow flurries. This is one of those inconvenient, overcrowded, busy, cold events…but it is so worth it. Challenge yourself this year, friends.
4. Cookie Party
This is a special tradition, and one I look forward to each year. For me, this isn’t a tradition that involves the kids, but it totally can! Every year all the ladies in my family (grandma, mom, sister, aunt, cousins) get together for a cookie party. We each choose 1 or 2 recipes and bring all the ingredients and supplies and bust out the cookies for the season. We have mimosas, lunch, eat cookie dough, and catch up. It’s such a special time and I have many beautiful memories from the girls cookie day, including telling my family I was pregnant with Evie!
This party is fun for so many reasons. I really like that this tradition is just for me. It’s a way for me to escape the craziness and enjoy some quiet time with my grown up family. I also like that I have a connection and memory to everyone’s cookie. My mom always makes peanut blossoms, my aunt has carrot cookies, my sister loves peanut butter balls, and I try some new recipe I find off Pinterest that almost never turns out well. Of course the kids love that I bring home all kinds of goodies too!
Grab your girls, grab your family members, find some fun new recipes (or classics!) and get to baking, sister!
5. Christmas Morning
There’s nothing like Christmas morning. It’s my favorite day of the year. The excitement building up to it, the craziness, the gifts. I love it.
Every year, I go downstairs and turn all the lights on. I take in the beauty of my house, think about how the kids are going to react when they see everything, and sit in the gratitude of the year. I always look forward to that moment and it just gets me in the right mindset before the main event. Then the kids sit at the top of the stairs, including Huck (our Goldedoodle), and we take a pic and ask them what they’re most excited for! It’s always one of my favorite pics.
I’ve got a fun little tradition when it comes to presents also! After one disastrous year where I wrapped all the presents in the same paper and didn’t stop to put tags on them…I needed a solution. We always open stockings first, so at the bottom of each kids’ stocking, I leave a scrap of paper and that tells them the wrapping paper that belongs to them! This is great for two reasons. One, I don’t have to put tags on anything, which always slows me down for some reason! And two, it adds a fun excitement to Christmas because the kids don’t know which presents belong to them until they figure out their paper! I have my own paper for mommy and daddy presents and I usually color code with bow or maybe I’ll put a tag on if I’m feeling extra on top of it (i.e. never).
My wish for you this holiday season is you slow down and enjoy the little moments. Pick one new thing to try and see how your family likes it. Do it again the next year, and it becomes a tradition. Traditions come from special things you repeat and become meaningful to your family. These are my 5 favorite Christmas traditions, try one of mine out, or come up with your own, but the point is to start. They are watching, remembering, and appreciating everything we do…even if they don’t know how to show it yet.
I go even more in depth with these traditions, and give a ton more ideas that will inspire and excite you as we celebrate this holiday season. Make sure you download your Holiday Family Tradition Guides and start making the most magical memories with your family this year!
Happy holidays, dear friend!