Tis the season for letters to Santa, holiday traditions, family time and more.
Those who know me well know I have never been much of a “traditional” person, as I tend to like to blaze my own trail. Going against the grain and being different and weird has always been my style – my rebellious streak, if you will.
As I have gotten older and had kids, I have grown to appreciate some of the traditions. Don’t get me wrong, I still like to be weird, but its the year-to-year things that my kids (and therefore me) understand the most and look forward.
Today, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite holiday traditions and things that my family and I look forward to and do annually. I also created the cutest little “Letter to Santa” printable for you to print for your people write their Christmas lists on. Feel free to download that and share!
Some of these traditions I have blogged about in the past, and my list below is in no particular order. I would love to know what your favorite holiday things are, or if your family does some of the same.
Decorating Gingerbread Houses (or cookies) is easy, fun and always a must do with the kids! We buy kits (like THIS one – affiliate links) that come with everything pre-made and icing and candy included. I help get the house together and once the icing is set on that, I put my kids at the kitchen table, turn on some Christmas music and let them go to town decorating.
I typically get the kids from Target or the grocery store, but have ordered from Amazon as well. I also pick up an extra pack or two of candy as its amazing how little pieces seem to jump in the mouths of my kids as they work. Ahem.
I also use left over Halloween candy and open that so they have more to decorate with – and to get it out of the house. Once the houses are made, we put them around and use as decor til the end of the season!
Its so fun to watch as my kids get into the holiday spirit. They look for Santa constantly and Moose always yells “mith-mus rees!” any time we pass a tree farm! In the past, we visited Santa at our local Bass Pro Shop – random, I know, but they had the most amazing one and a great set up.
These days, we usually just go to our local mall. We try to go early in the season to check it off of the list – and also before the crowds are too crazy. We also like to give Santa as much time as possible to work on our list with his elves.
My husband gives into my crazy desire to buy a frame and the kids pictures each year. Its probably a waste of $45, but it makes my heart so happy that its worth every penny. If the frames light up, bonus points.
I plan to have the kids (or us help while they are little) write their Christmas lists on these printables from year to year. I want to save them – along with their back to school questionnaires and be able to look back in a few years!
Click ——> dearsanta <——- for the downloadable PDF
Family Pictures and Christmas Cards
This is by far one of my favorite traditions. I love taking family pictures a little too much (#sorrynotsorry?) and having a sister who is always willing to show up with camera in hand, enables my obsession. We recently took a few pictures and we have three I am choosing between using. Here is one of the front runners that may make the card…
I know lots of families dress up for pictures with Santa. I love Christmas jammies and I love even more, wearing them to visit Santa. As for this year, the pajamas have been purchased (Target had them buy one get one for half off and then I ordered Annie M’s from Amazon). I am hoping the hubs will take a day off here in a few days and we can scoot over to the mall and see jolly old Saint Nick.
As I shopped online, I couldn’t help saving a few of my favorite ones! Hannah Andersen, Burts Bees and Carter’s have adorable ones (all on Amazon) and the images below are all from Amazon! You can click on the image to take you to the direct link.
We love to bake cookies, fudge, bread, cinnamon rolls and more. We usually devour some ourselves as well as share with friends and neighbors. Last year, I think I baked close to 20 loaves of bread. Not sure if I will make that much this year, but we will see. I also made a ton of fudge last year. I have already made a batch of fudge this year (previous post has recipe and video on how to make it) and it may have been my best batch ever, from a consistency standpoint. I really need it OUT of my house as I can’t quit sneaking bites.
In the past, we have always all gotten together and made the Hubs secret family recipe cookie. We have no plans (yet) this year to make them, but seems like we have decided last minute the past few years, so I am thinking that may happen again!?
Gift or Ornament Swap
In the past, we have done this with friends. Seems as I get older and have more kids, there is less time and money for this! My favorite past items swapped have been EOS chapstick, Essie or OPI nail polish or something cute and simple!
My kids go crazy for a night by the fire! We love to get warm and cozy, make a cup of hot chocolate and either read or watch a movie. We always read the birth of Jesus from Luke 2 to our kids during the holidays and also the book, “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” As for movies, we keep it simple. Things like the Peanuts, Polar Express, Elf, Claymation Christmas and Frosty are ones we have let the kids watch. Home Alone, A Christmas Story, etc. are holiday classics, but the kids need to be a bit older before those go on repeat!
Sponsor a Child/Donate
Our church sponsors local kids for Christmas and we always love shopping for a kid or two. We try to get kids similar to our kids ages and genders and then they help us shop for them. Operation Christmas Child, Project Angel Tree, Be Rich and other similar campaigns are ones that are great to participate in as well. There are so many options and always a need and its important to us to teach our kids the true meaning of the holidays and while we do visit Santa, make our lists and wear our cute jammies, one of our utmost priorities along with knowing about Jesus and why we celebrate, is letting them participate in giving to others.
Live Nativities and Christmas Lights
Driving around to look at lights has been a forever tradition. Now with my kids, we “go the long way home” just to listen to one more Christmas song and see the lights. They are positively giddy over them and I love hearing their squeals of delight.
**update! I just created a Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt for kids printable! Click HERE to download!**
There are lots of live nativities around and we try to sneak over to my in-laws church to see theirs. My kids love it and I think Annie M’s dream is to be the angel in the play they do. Brother just wants to ride the camel. 😉
Christy the Elf
Another forever tradition has been the one of Christy the Elf. Christy visited my Dad starting Thanksgiving night, and nightly through Christmas Eve when he was a boy. Christy the Elf is not mischievous like the Elf on the Shelf and she does not get into anything. She watches you daily and leaves sweet or sassy notes and a treat if you are good and nothing if you are bad.
Christy came to watch my sister and I and has already arrived to watch my children. I have spoken with Christy tonight and the big boys will both be getting sassy notes tonight. She apologized, but said that Santa was just not pleased with their behavior today. I can’t blame him as I think they both spent more time in time out today than out.
Chopping Down Our Tree
There are lots all over that grow trees where you are able to go and cut it yourself. They don’t have Fraser Firs, but the trees we have gotten (that I cant remember the name of right now) we have loved. The kids have a blast picking it out, cutting it down and then dragging it out and I hope to go in the next day or so to get this years tree.
Growing up, we never got trees til late. We got HUGE ones – like 16 foot trees, so we waited til the price dropped and then kept it up longer into the new year. Our family gets 9-11 foot trees and I want it up now and then the day after Christmas gone.
Here we were last year when we picked out our tree.
So thats it! Our favorite traditions and ones we you can expect us to do this year – and probably be recapped on the blog! There is a ton of fun holiday stuff to do in and around the local Atlanta area, so I hope to post a round up of those ideas too. I’d love to know your favorite traditions or hot holiday spots, so feel free to comment below!
Happy Holidays and don’t forget to download the letter to Santa above!