I love seeing different holiday traditions that families do over the holidays. It’s always interesting to see how different we area, yet in some ways, very similar. Over the course of two decades, our family has created a few holiday traditions. Of course, most of them revolve around food, but isn’t that what the holidays are for?
There was one year of absolute chaos, one year I didn’t get our shopping done early and we didn’t get to enjoy the holiday season. This was when our middle two kids were young, and taking care of three young kids, two who had to have surgery just after Thanksgiving, just a week apart. It was terrible, it was chaotic, and it was stressful.
Since then, we work harder to create a festive, fun, and relaxed month of December. Of course, it doesn’t always work out the way we want, but, our holiday traditions and routines have helped our holidays run smooth.
We go the day after Thanksgiving to pick our tree and cut it down. We have found, for now, we love getting about a 12 foot tree, although my husband has crazy notions of getting something bigger. Once we have our tree, we pick up some apple cider and apple donuts before heading back down the mountain.
Once home, we battle with our behemoth tree, getting it set up in the stand. After that chore is complete, the fun begins. Dan tackles the outside decorations and the kids and I set up all our inside decorations. We put on Christmas music and spend the afternoon decoration, stopping for a lunch break of Thanksgiving leftovers.
Another tradition we try and carry out each year is decorating cookies or building and decorating a gingerbread house. I really wish I wouldn’t have turned the kids on to the gingerbread house decorating as it is the bane of my existence. The actual decorating is pretty fun, but building them isn’t fun. We tried buying them one year, and for six houses, that’s crazy expensive! We tried graham cracker construction one year…that ended up being a comedy of errors. This year, I’m cutting and building simple A frame homes. We’ll see how it goes….
We have a few movies that are MUST DO’s every Christmas season. A Christmas Story tops my list while National Lampoons Christmas Vacation tops my husband’s list. Scrooges is another yearly repeater and the kids insist on How the Grinch Stole Christmas. If we have time, we usually throw in a couple other movies as well.
Beyond the cookie decorating, this is my FAVORITE season to bake. It’s cold outside and there are so many goodies to bake up. Making fudge, different flavors of bark, cookies and more is always a part of our December traditions. Sometimes, we’re busy, and we don’t get to bake too much, but I try to make some of our favorites each year.
I make an egg casserole in our Crockpot the night before, so when we wake up Christmas morning, breakfast is waiting for us. Coffee is brewed, and we’re ready to open presents. While we start opening presents, the Kringle I prepared the day before is now baking in the oven. We hang out at home, and my mom spends the morning with us. It’s a great, relaxed way to spend Christmas.
There are so many other traditions I wish we could incorporate, but finding the balance of enjoying the holidays and creating too much chaos is often a fine line. Some years, we go find the best Christmas lights, some years we open a present early on Christmas Eve. There are times we do more, and years we do less.
At the end of the day, what matters most is that we spend some quality family time together. For us, the month of December is the slowest month of the year and we try to take advantage of that extra time to play games, have fun and relax.