Article Line Long1
Lifestyle

We Asked What Your “Out Of The Box” Family Holiday Traditions Were And BOY Did You Deliver

On our weekly Zoom the other day, Emily asked about our family holiday traditions and if we should write about them. Em had some fun ones but for the rest of us, we didn’t really feel that any of our traditions were all that creative (even if they are special to us). That’s when we thought we’d pose the question on Instagram and report back. As always we got some great responses and I know at least for me, I will be implementing some now and some others if and when I have kids in the future. Actually, writing this post had an unexpectedly big impact on me. Since the pandemic (and maybe a little before too), I’ve felt kinda neutral about the holiday season. There’s always a really fun White Elephant party I look forward to and I pick out Christmas trees with one of my best friends but aside from that, I don’t really have any other traditions until I get with my family a day or two before Christmas. I’m realizing as I’m typing this that I need to make more of an effort to create actual holiday season traditions I love to maybe get back some authentic holiday excitement. It’s all about spending time with the people you love right? Decorations can only get you so far. I didn’t mean for this to take a kind of depressing turn but if anyone else has been having a hard time feeling that holiday magic, I think this could be a solid way to help. So let’s get into these really great ideas that maybe you to can add to your December:)

The Holiday Season

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: our scandinavian (and easy, mess-free) holiday living room reveal

Food

Soup Night (with 2-4 soups) – I don’t have to tell you that this is very EHD-approved and would be so fun! What’s better than a potluck soup night?! And if you like this idea for just your immediate family, I think it would be so cute to break up into teams and have a taste contest. Oh and maybe everyone could have a special bowl they look forward to using every year. Just an idea:)

Fondue Night – I was kinda surprised by how many people said fondue but also not because it’s so fun. I’ll never forget the first time I was introduced to it because it blew my mind! Dipping things in cheese and then later into chocolate?! I love how easy and interactive it is. It’s pretty impossible not to have a good time around a fondue pot.

Port and Pie Night – So the reader that sent in this AMAZING tradition does it after Thanksgiving. However, I think this could easily be done as a stand-alone event where everyone brings a pie and a bottle of port wine to someone’s house. This could also be a fun, no-stress thing to do after Christmas where everyone can talk about how their holidays went:)

Pizza and Champagne Party – I am looking at my calendar as we speak to figure out when my friends and I can do this and make it a tradition! Not super little kid-friendly but for the older kids, this is such a fun idea that feels both special and easy. 10/10

Activities

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: how to have great holiday cocktail party In a tiny apartment (all the hacks you need to know)

Craft Night to Make Place-Setting Gifts – What a fun and sweet thing to craft! I would love to sit down at a holiday dinner with meaningful handmade gifts just for me. And that’s even before all of the delicious food. How can you not have a great meal after such a special start??

Wrapping Paper Tube Fight – While Emily is writing another post about wrapping paper and how she’s trying to move away from it, sometimes using it is inevitable. So might as well make use of the tubes and have a fun family tube fight! You could even decorate them before if you also want to get crafty:)

Read-A-Thon for a Few Days with Casseroles – I envy this family! What a sweet tradition. This may not work for every family but if you have a book-loving crew, this is a perfect way to get cozy next to the fireplace.

Book Advent Calendar and Read with Family – Speaking of books, creating a book-themed advent calendar is another great way to incorporate that fun countdown with quality family time instead of a little sugar rush.

Advent(ure) Calendar – I also think this is such a cool idea for an advent calendar that also promotes family time but does take way more planning. But if you have the bandwidth, you could do things like ice skating, cooking decorating, sledding, etc.

Projector Movie in the Driveway: Elf and Diehard – This one is for people who live in warmer climates but annual outdoor movie nights are just fun and I would for sure look forward to this (especially if there’s hot chocolate involved).

Bowling – Bowling was a BIG tradition that lots of people submitted and something my family never did (but I would have loved to). Some do it after Thanksgiving, some on Christmas Eve, some on the day after Christmas, etc. Basically, it sounds like a really fun and easy activity that’s great for any size family.

3-Day Ping Pong Tournament – Keeping with the competitive sporting events, I thought this was fun and not your average holiday tradition. It’s also great since it can be an indoor activity and it’s cold outside in most places. If you don’t have a ping pong set up then you could do something like pickleball or chess or UNO or any game your family likes to play together. I wonder what the winner gets??

“Memory of the Year” Ornaments with FIMO Clay – I know Emily loves making ornaments with her kids and this idea, in particular, is really special since it helps everyone get really creative and get to go over all of the happy things that happened over the year. The only problem is just choosing one:)

Surprise Adventure Night – This one is right up my alley since my friends and I did a version of this for all of our 16th birthdays. Ok, so this reader says that they put the kids to bed then after they’re asleep for a bit they bang on pots and pans to wake them up to go on a late-night adventure. It’s great because you can pick any night and then maybe have either a scavenger hunt, go to a late-night movie, eat dessert at a 24-hour diner, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Sleeping “Under the Tree” or “Christmas Adam” – Ok, so I’ve never heard of “Christmas Adam” before this but apparently it’s the night before Christmas Eve and you do fun holiday activities. But overwhelmingly the activity was sleeping under (or near) the Christmas tree. Some readers even bring their mattresses out into their living rooms. I love how easy and magical this is. If and when I have kids we will absolutely be doing this.

Decorate a Tree in the Woods with Birdseed Ornaments – This tradition is actually one reader’s Thanksgiving tradition but I think it’s also perfect for any time during the holiday season. So they take a family hike and then decorate one of the trees with birdseed ornaments. My heart melted and I thought., “Oh, Emily is going to love this one.” I was correct:) Now I’m not sure if they make the ornaments but that would be a fun additional activity for this cute tradition!

LCR Game After Dinner – This was also a Thanksgiving tradition (it’s one of mine as well) but it’s SO FUN, especially if you have a big group. It’s an easy dice game where everyone brings three of the same decided-upon tender (we do three $1 bills) and then by the end one person wins the whole pot. What I also love about LCR is that no one is out until the very last roll so everyone is engaged the whole time. 1000/10

Christmas Eve

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: holiday entertaining just got a whole lot easier

Food

A Themed Local Bar Night – This one is more for those without children but an annual themed night at a bar can be extremely fun (as long as you manage your consumption so you are still able to enjoy Christmas Day:)) One reader goes to their local small-town bar for their open mic night Christmas pageant and happily enjoys tacos and margaritas. I would love an invite, thank you.

Breakfast for Dinner – I will never say no to breakfast for dinner because it’s the best! Whenever my mom would surprise us with breakfast for dinner it literally felt like Christmas so this is a “YES!” in my book.

Chicago Deep Dish – Since Les Bunge is from Chicago my love for deep dish pizza is lifelong. If you don’t live in Chicago and like this idea may I suggest getting Lou Malnati’s shipped to you? You’ll thank me later. Oh, maybe I’ll order some for my pizza and champagne party…

Bread Bowls and Soups – Take me back to my San Francisco days! Eating something out of bread is always superior and what an extra special way to enjoy soup. Plus, I thought they were the coolest things on the planet when I was little.

Movie Night and Appetizer Party – I love this idea because you get to have a little of a ton of different things! Also, endless dips?? Yes, please. I mean just go to Trader Joe’s (mainly the frozen section) and you are in for a very delicious night. Here are some of the best ones according to you all.

Reuben Sandwiches – Just another truly incredible idea that’s a little out of the box.

Make a Meal From a Different Country and Learn About Their Traditions – Such a fun and cool way to expose you and your kids (if you have them) to a new culture! The more we learn about each other the more we can experience what makes us special and more importantly what connects us:)

Activities

Fake Snow in Kid’s Rooms and Hide Presents – Creating wonder and whimsy is such a special thing to do for kids. My mom was big on this growing up. So much like fairy dust when the tooth fairy comes, this parent puts some fake snow in her kid’s rooms while they’re sleeping and hides presents. I would have even just loved the snow! I really love this and here are two biodegradable faux snow options (this one and this one).

Costume Party – Another way to get whimsical and is a big step up from an ugly sweater party (which is also great, FYI)! Getting dressed up is so fun and should be encouraged all year round. A fun party sounds like the perfect way to get ready for Christmas day.

Christmas Day

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: emily’s “messy” but full of memories christmas family room

Food

Soups and Desserts – Sign me up! This also feels very low-pressure and easy to prep a day or two before which is so so nice.

Eggs Benedict – Eggs Benedict is my favorite brunch item so this sounds great. Fun Fact: I usually swap the Canadian bacon for avocado. Man is it good and maybe not actually that “fun”. Ha. Also, my old favorite brunch spot swapped the bread for a fried potato nest. INSANE and recommended!

Chili and Fritos – Just yes.

Activities

Obstacle Course (With Traps!) to Presents – This is COOL! Definitely would take a ton of work but if you are a parent that’s up for it I can only imagine how fun this would be as a kid.

Build a Big Lego Set Together – I don’t know if you’ve heard but kids love Legos (and honestly so do adults:)) So I love that this is a family gift that everyone builds together on Christmas day. Such a fun (and wonderfully time-consuming) activity.

Scavenger Hunt for The One Big Family Gift – I’m sure Emily loves this too since she is a big scavenger hunt fan:) This one is also a good amount of more work but if you love doing them, what a cool activity to do as a family. This is something I would still love now!

Early Morning Dip in the Irish Sea with a Hot Hip Flask After – This one is specific (any cold body of water will do) but this is a cool thing to do for yourself to start your day off really well. Emily is a HUGE fan of cold plunging too and says it’s a great endorphin booster. Sometimes we need that during the holidays.

Experience Exchange – There’s very little that any of us need so the idea of an experience exchange instead of a gift exchange is truly so awesome. I think starting this when kids are young and it not being for just adults is great too. Teaching them to focus less on stuff.

A Personal Christmas Letter to Kids – I saved my favorite for last. This reader’s husband writes a personal letter to each of their kids every year for Christmas. I could cry just thinking about how special it is and will be to have those forever. What a gift to give to your kids that literally costs nothing yet means everything.

How great are these ideas?! We would love to hear yours in the comments. Let’s all have a fun and love-filled season, ok??? 🙂

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Kaitlin Green | From: The Farmhouse Kitchen Reveal And All My Thoughts And Feelings About It

0 0 votes
Article Rating

WANT MORE OF WHERE THAT CAME FROM?

Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

57 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
wally
1 month ago

When I was a kid, for xmas eve we had FFF: Fantastic Fireside Feast. We (my parents and I) had a dinner of appetizers sitting on the floor in front of the fire. We then each opened one xmas eve gift – it was supposed to be something that we could enjoy immediately like a game or something crafty. On xmas day, we opened stocking stuffers first then had breakfast. Afterwards we opened the rest of the gifts. For xmas dinner, we got friend chicken, salads, and brownies and took them to the beach for a picnic (I grew up in Northern California – so not super cold, but definitely not warm). Then for the day the tree came down (always a life tree that my parents then planted), my mom would hide a little basket ornament in it with a little gift in it for me to find. Traditions have changed a lot since my dad died – and it was hard for me to make up for the gifts he would get my mom for xmas, esp when I was in grad school. So, we started a tradition that all stocking stuffers had to be from a dollar… Read more »

Kristina
1 month ago

Yes to fun holiday traditions! Mine is the clue game…we all write clues on our gifts and the giftee has to guess what’s inside before unwrapping. It was invented when I was a kid and felt Christmas morning went by too quickly. It lives on today and is still inevitably hysterical.

No to a “how to use less wrapping paper” post. This is not a sustainability blog and the past month has been nothing but gift guides and sale posts…the past few years have been endless, expensive, and massive home renovations. It’s hypocritical and honestly, just irritating on this particular platform. My advice: consume wisely. Buy gifts that mean something. Wrap it how you choose. We make a lot of meaningful decisions along the way. Just be thoughtful about them.

Stacy
1 month ago
Reply to  Kristina

That game sounds so fun. Love the idea of extending the Christmas morning feeling and adding more of an interaction component to gift opening!

I don’t see the less wrapping paper post as hypocritical. Not the thing I’m most stoked about, but I do feel like the EHD team has been pretty consistent about their goals and I’m sure it’ll be cute. I also don’t see renovating an old house into something functional (and beautiful!) as completely unsustainable though, since it seems better than tearing it down and starting fresh, so maybe that’s where our perspective differs.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Stacy

I’m looking gorward to yhe alternative ideas to wrapping paper.
I intentionally bought some special tea towels on sale during Black Friday, specifically to wrap gifts in.

Lane
1 month ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Rusty, you can use pieces of fabric and then reuse them every year. Fabric ribbon can be reused. Brown paper bags if you get them from stores are great for smaller presents. Also gift bags aren’t too bad because most can be reused. If you give at home or to family you can collect those things back if they don’t want it. It’s more tricky with work and other venues because you may have to consider how it would be easier to carry that gift.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Lane

Thanx, Lane.🙂
I use recycled , brown paper (sometimes I stamp motifs on it) and paper bags.
The cloth is a good idea – that’s my thinking with thetea towels coz they csn then be used as part of the gift.
I’m keen to see if Emily shares some ‘outof the box’ tricks I have never heard of.

Hadilly
1 month ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Check out ways to tie furoshiki (Japanese cloth wraps). I have switched over and it makes wrapping presents the easiest thing ever, then reuse next year. I am not crafty so I buy from Bento&Co.

Amy
1 month ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

I kept all the brown paper that came in the shipping boxes and I plan to wrap my gifts with this. I also use things around the house, for example my son is getting a super soaker water gun for Christmas so I wrapped it an old rain poncho. I know he’s going to be wondering why a poncho, but once he see’s what the gift is he’ll fully understand!

1 month ago
Reply to  Kristina

A blog is whatever the writer wants to write about. Your choice is to read it or not; dictating what you think it should be is overstepping. My word have the readership on this blog been snarky recently. As we English say – wind your neck in!

Stacia
1 month ago
Reply to  Louise P-G

I LOVE English/British sayings!

Juanita
1 month ago
Reply to  Louise P-G

YES to this! I am always so confused by the comments complaining about the content. If you don’t like it, don’t… read it? (I too love “wind your neck in”—much nicer than “get a life,” which is what I think to myself in response to those comments!)

Ellen
1 month ago
Reply to  Louise P-G

Yes! i have never understood this type of outlook…. you are mad that YOU went to HER blog and YOU didn’t like what SHE wrote??? wut?????

1 month ago
Reply to  Kristina

I’m looking forward to the no wrapping paper post! I’ve been using just plain brown craft paper for years because it’s recyclable and wrapping paper isn’t. Also, that’d make your fun game even better because you could write it right on the paper on the back!

Laureline
1 month ago
Reply to  Kristina

Kristina, I agree with you. And to the people saying “nobody forces you to read it if you don’t like it”. What you don’t seem to get, is that we are in an environmental crisis, and Emily’s lifestyle, and how she influences her readership to behave, has an impact on everyone, no matter wether we read here or not. Her behaviour and its ripples in the end affects me, too. it’s extremely serious, it’s not trolling and one could even argue that she’s the one trolling, publishing endless links to purchase mostly useless stuff, and throwing in once in a while a simili-environmentally conscious post.

Amy
1 month ago

Since we have 3 dogs and my SIL has 2 dogs, we all get together at my house on Xmas Eve for “Dog Xmas”. We exchange presents for the dogs and let them open them and have fun playing together, and I make dinner for everyone. Sometimes its elaborate, other times simple. This year it will be heavy appetizers and desserts, and the dogs always get Frosty Paws ice cream for their treat.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Amy

💞🐾🐾

Stacia
1 month ago
Reply to  Amy

Sigh… This is one of those moments where I think to myself I was totally born into the wrong family and should have been born into yours! So sweet! 💕🐾

Katie
1 month ago

Fully acknowledging this tradition takes a commitment of time & funds. But, December is the slowest time of year for my work, so easier than summer for us to do a family vacation. We’ve leaned into that, and the holiday season, by seeing The Nutcracker in a new city each year. Chicago, Portland, Montreal, Phoenix, Miami, etc. We love seeing the local twists on each production and exploring a new city decked out for the holidays.

Cris S.
1 month ago
Reply to  Katie

I love this! Each year I’ve taken my daughter to the Nutcracker here in Chicago. When things are flush we go out for a nice dinner and sometimes spend the night in a hotel. But we always go to the Nutcracker, regardless.

Sal
1 month ago

I don’t know if it counts as out of the box since it’s essentially a Jewish-American traditional tradition at this point (although unheard of in Israel!), but: Chinese food on Christmas Eve, going to the movies on Christmas Day 🙂

Stephanie
1 month ago
Reply to  Sal

Jewish lady here too: Every Christmas Eve I go to Atlanta’s ethnic eats destination (Buford Hwy) and get a different type of food. Last year it was Vietnamese. It’s been Malaysian, Colombian, Korean.. and on. I like to switch it up.

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Stephanie: so wonderful to see a fellow a Buford Hwy fan on here! We aren’t from that area, but we’ve vacationed in Atlanta twice in the last few years and will keep going back. Buford Hwy was where we spent most of our mealtimes and never had a single bad meal! We plan our vacations around ethnic restaurant availability and Atlanta is probably the best place for that in the South.

CGinAZ
1 month ago
Reply to  Sal

I was waiting for someone to say this. My daughter and I did this for years after I was divorced. I thought it was mostly for me but she recently said how much she loved it and misses doing that now that she’s married.

Bobbi
1 month ago
Reply to  Sal

Or Chinese food on Christmas Day, usually the only restaurants open not serving a Christmas dinner. When I married into a Christian family I initiated a new tradition, meatballs and spaghetti on Christmas Eve. It made me feel good to do something not linked to Christmas tradition and my family loves it! have been doing this for many years.

Susan
1 month ago

Since the story was that Mary and Joseph were far from home when Jesus was born eating only what they had packed with them, on Christmas Eve we always ate a very simple finger food meal (cold snacky things requiring no cooking) by candle light only with all of the lights in the house turned off except the tree. It reminded us of what was important about the season-sharing a simple meager meal together. As kids we never dined by candle light, and it was so quiet and still and simple that it always felt magical. The opposite of the rest of the season.

Taylor
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan

This is really special and beautiful. I love this idea. Thanks for sharing!

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago

In Australia, Christmas is often hot. Many, many families go to the beach, picnic and play cricket. A family in my street play “Street Cricket” and invited me last year. I’m def not into cricket, but this is sooo fun!! Block the street off with wheelie bins on each end…and play cricket with a tennis ball! My family has a German background on my dad’s side and we used to have spaghetti (?🤣!) for dinner (I surmise, because it took a while for little kids to eat the strands and build excitement) and then sit in the living room and open presents – one person at a time, sharing the oohs and aaahs… and thanking the person who gave the gift. Christmas morning was all about Santa pressents!! 7 kids, the present opening took forevvvvvvvvver!!! Haha! 🤣🤣 The youngest child got to hand the gifts out one by one – that was me.🤗 My own Christmas tradition is to make mini-Christmas cakes as gifts. I give these only to prople who truly appreciate them as they’re a l.o.t. of work. I give them to special friends on Boxing Day- this is the day after Christmas where you generally see friends… Read more »

1 month ago

What a fun round up! For others who (like me) don’t drink alcohol, the more boozy holiday traditions can sometimes be tricky or just not very appealing. Thought I’d share this sober holiday resource: https://www.thetemper.com/ultimate-guide-sober-holidays/

Lisa Carnochan
1 month ago

I cannot remember if I posted this before, but, I will die on the hill of Our Oddball Tradition is the Best. My BIL is Jewish, so when my sister’s family came to our house for the season, Christmas Eve always involved Chinese food, which put us in our cars. Hold that thought. Early on, one time, my sister and I realized we didn’t have enough stocking presents for everyone. So, after Christmas Eve dinner all 8 of us made out way to CVS and proceeded to wild through the aisles, hiding our bags of nose hair clippers and purple glitter nail polish from each other, giggling.
My sister and I wound up screeching with laughter eventually, doubled over, tears streaming from our eyes. My niece was a little worried we’d get kicked out of the store. But no, holiday spirit prevailed and the staff let the two crazy middle-aged women have their fun. We’ve done it many times since. You’d be surprised what you can find in a CVS. Oh, my BIL also found a fifth of Jameson the consumption of which late into the night was also a tradition for several years until my generation’s constitution aged out:)

AL
1 month ago

Christmas lights bike ride! Our dear friends started this tradition years ago when our kids were little. We get a group together or go with just our family and ride around different parts of our neighborhood to look at all the lights and decorations. We live in S Cal but it does get chilly at night, so we just dress in layers and take hot chocolate and ride around with our portable speaker playing Christmas music. I look forward to it all year long!

Dena
1 month ago

I love this!! So many great ideas!

We didn’t have traditions like this growing up so I make sure to do them now!
-we cut paper snow flakes out of coffee filters. They have become more elaborate as my daughter has gotten older. Since they are on coffee filters, light still shines through when taped to the window.

– I always make a French toast bake that I make ahead the night before Xmas.

– we read a book about St Nicholas to add a human touch to who he was

– family Xmas dinner.

– polar plunge on New Year’s Day (in Florida ha ha)

– since she was 4 she has been walking a winter spiral with classmates and friends to signify the longer winter days and feeling your inner light to keep you going! It’s a really beautiful ceremony. Spiritual and not meant to be any specific religion.

A note about the fake snow- I was walking on the beach the other day and washed up all along the shore were the tiny styrofoam “snow balls”. All the way down the beach and impossible to clean up. It’s quite sad! Just don’t use that kind!

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Dena

Yes, please… don’t use that kind.
It was great to see Jess’ biodegradable options – if faux snow is necessary (?).🤔

Jane
1 month ago
Reply to  Dena

Might you be able to share the recipe for French toast bake? Would love to do this.

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane

Pick your poison (I love ranked and reviewed recipes): https://www.thekitchn.com/french-toast-casserole-recipes-267443

Jane
1 month ago
Reply to  Kj

Thanks for finding that for me, love posts like that too!

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Kj

KJ, I used to read that site a LOT and have used two of their French toast casserole recipes as Christmas breakfast. Both were huge hits even with my husband’s family who are all much better and more refined cooks than me or anyone in my family!

The upside-down “bruleed” French toast casserole is pretty fab looking but super easy (and make ahead!) so if anyone had company coming to stay and not a lot of energy left, that’s a good one to pull out.

Alli
1 month ago

My favorite tradition in my family is paying the kids to sleep later on Christmas. My bachelor uncle started this when I was a kid. On Christmas Eve we would have a big negotiation for how much he had to pay each of us to push back the official Christmas morning start time. There was 1 of him and 4 kids and some years we would get $50 each to hold off until 9 AM. Baby’s first collective bargaining experience! My cousins and I have carried this tradition on with the new generation and they love it.

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Alli

This is hilarious! We do something similar: as long as the kids stay quiet in their room until 8 am, they can eat leftover desserts (we do the big dinner on Xmas Eve) or candy from their stockings as breakfast on Xmas Day (candy is all dark chocolate, they get queasy before they can overeat). We’ve done this since they were little bc I grew up with it and my siblings and I all remember it so fondly.

Katherine
1 month ago

The holidays go by so fast and our kids are little so they get just inundated with presents and the month is a whirlwind. We’ve started celebrating Nicholas Tag on Dec 6th to spread things out a bit, and it’s been so nice. We have a cheese tray and sit under the tree and they each get an early present or two and we drink cocoa and read stories. It’s basically a low key family evening that’s just our immediate family. We are fortunate we live near family so we spend a lot of time with grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles but the holidays also feel in so many ways like they belong to everyone else since Christmas Day still happens at the parents/in-laws since they are the only who have larger homes to host (don’t get me started on the generational real estate divide).

Tarynkay
1 month ago

Christmas is a religious holiday for us, so we do Advent. We roll beeswax candles- this is a great craft for kids! Low mess, extremely easy and high reward. Every night during Advent, we light a candle at dinner and sing O Come O Come Emmanuel (just the chorus.) Every Sunday we add another candle. After dinner, we read aloud from an Advent storybook for kids. This year I got an Advent devotional for my mom and my sister and I and we are all going through it and then meeting up on zoom once a week to talk about it. Every year my mother in law gives all of the grandkids some money to save or spend for themselves and some to give to charity. Then they all write her letters explaining where they gave the money and why (and also what they spent it on.) We try to find local organizations they can give it to in person, the kids really love doing this. We have wonderful elderly neighbors who we are very close with. One year, she told me that she had never made a gingerbread house. So every year, we get a couple of those gingerbread… Read more »

Jane
1 month ago
Reply to  Tarynkay

I’d love to know which advent storybook for kids you use? Thanks for sharing all these ideas!

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane

Same here, I also want this book!

Emily W
1 month ago

I come from a Polish family and we have SO MANY Christmas traditions. Always special foods but my favorite is with Christmas Eve. Traditionally this feast would be for the breaking of the Advent Fast and take place after Christmas Eve Mass. It involves 12 different courses/dishes including mushroom soup, pierogi, lots of fish, kielbasa, ham, breads, and more.

Even if we don’t do the full dinner one thing we do always do (and that I have been teaching my children to do) is the oplatek. pronounced O-plah-tik. It can be hard to explain but it is this giant thin wafer that everyone gets a large chunk of. You then go to everyone in the gathering and tell them your wishes/blessings for them in the new year and make any amends that need to be done. They then break off a piece of your oplatek to eat and you break off a piece of theirs to eat. I always love doing it with friends and family and having that beautiful moment of community and fresh starts together.

Colleen
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily W

My mother’s side is Polish and my grandmother made pierogi and always a nice kielbasa sliced up with rye bread and mustard and sauerkraut for an appetizer.

But my grandma’s Christmas ritual that we kids did NOT like was this: she cut up garlic and put it in honey and each of us had to eat a spoonful of it while she said this blessing: “May you taste the sweetness and bitterness of life.” I love this blessing but do not want to recreate the taste!

Emily W
1 month ago
Reply to  Colleen

Haha, maybe you could use the blessing with some other sweet & bitter combo? I think of candied orange peels and how they hit those notes…
Although oddly enough what your grandma had you do is an old remedy for sore throats. My midwives told me about it when I was pregnant and unable to take much pain medication to deal with it.

Emily W
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily W

*deal with sore throats. Not my unborn child 😂

Lisa
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily W

We also do the Oplatek. It’s one of my favorite traditions.

1 month ago

What fun ideas! I may need to adopt a few of them.

Nora
1 month ago

Fun post, and loving the additional ideas in the comments! Always a fan of movie marathons + apps here 🙂 Also, I’m posting this to test if it will go up – I posted a comment yesterday (not critical, or rude, no swearing etc) and after a note saying that it was pending moderation, for some reason it never went up? Just thought I’d bring it to your attention in case there’s some glitching going on…I included a few links in the comment, maybe that was the issue.

Stacia
1 month ago

My husband and I do not have kids AND we are introverts so December can be a lot for us. We do both of our family gatherings on Christmas Eve day/evening and then take off for a little ski trip on Christmas morning and hang out in the mountains through New Year’s. Truly bliss to spend time in the mountains and just eat, hike, and relax/recover for a few days. I have also starting taking a few days off the first week of January to get my life back in order – it’s my “reset” week every year.

Suzie
1 month ago

My hubby and I started dating in July of 1993 and had our first xmas date in December of that year. EVERY YEAR since then we have gone out on a xmas date. It is not the same date and it’s not always the same thing. But it is xmas themed. Sometimes we dress up, go to a really nice restaurant and then to either a xmas play, ballet (Nutcracker) or a xmas concert. Other years we keep it really casual, xmas themed display at local historical museum and casual dinner. We have done some repeats but not too many. We also do an advent calendar every year.

Suzanne
1 month ago

When the kids were younger, I premade cookies and the kids decorated them during the festivities. It was a perfect activity and they loved having control over their creations, and all the extra sprinkles. Admittedly, they don’t do it these days as older teens and young adults. My siblings and I also decided at some point that the kids got so much from grandparents and parents that they didn’t need additional cousin gifts. We tried having them do a white elephant gift exchange, which was fun, but didn’t stick. What I came up with was prize balls. Each ball contains $20 in the center with one or more fidgets or trinkets and candy wrapped in layers of crepe paper. One year, I used Disney themed items to announce a Disneyland trip we were doing in the next year. They still love unwrapping them, and have slowed down after years of racing and having candy fly around the room with the unraveling. This year, I’m putting a retractable keychain at the center, which they may or may not find useful, but they’ll get the same cash and candy. Somehow, no one has complained about the lack of increase in the amount.… Read more »

Leslie
1 month ago

I have a “pajamas and pancakes” night with my daughter and granddaughters. Usually either Dec 23rd or the evening of the last day they have school. We put on our pajamas, make pancakes for supper and then either watch a movie or play a board game. It’s meant to be super low stress for everyone, a way to decompress before the actual holidays, which are stressful because of family dynamics, traveling, meal prep, gift buying and transporting and all that other stuff.

Karyn Meadows
1 month ago
Reply to  Leslie

That sounds so delish!! I love both pajamas and pancakes!

Jane
1 month ago

Wrote down many of the ideas here for when our kids are a bit older (we have 3, 3 and under 😅)! One I started is reflecting on the year and gifting each child an ornament that makes me think of them – when they’re 18 I’ll send them off with these for their own trees (assuming they’ll move out then?!). We also love celebrating Sinterklaas on/near December 5th – that’s when we do our extended family gift exchange so that December 25th can be more focused on the birth of Christ. On that note, my last idea is that I set up our nativity without baby Jesus and He’s the first gift we open on Christmas morning. Thank you everyone for sharing your traditions, special to catch a glimpse into what happens in your homes!

Karyn Meadows
1 month ago

My son who is not yet married has had a very special tradition of having Friendsgiving and Friendsmas to get together with friends and have a nice potluck meal with foods that each hold as very special. They so enjoy it and even though they are all close and see each other a lot, both Friendsgiving andn Friendsmas is very special to them.

1 month ago

Our traditions are pretty simple. We do a “Jammie Lights” night where our kids put on holiday pajamas and we get Frosties from Wendy’s and drive around looking at Christmas lights in the neighborhoods around us. So easy and I always look forward to it! (My twins are 6 and always fall asleep in the back seat, so we just keep driving around and relaxing as late as we want.)
We always bake a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Day and have it after dinner. I wrap the ingredients up in their stockings and we have this really neat cake topper from Etsy that we use every year. Our cousins have the same topper so we do it as an extended family tradition, always sending photos of how our cakes turned out.
Growing up one of my favorites was that my grandma would include silly string in the bottom of the stockings so we would all run outside and start a silly string fight. You need a decent amount of people for this to work, but I have such fond memories.

Go To Top