My Favorite Christmas Traditions At Home

(Disclosure: This post was inspired by a special moment I had with Lucas while eating free popcorn from The Popcorn Factory.)

I am a big fan of traditions. As a mom, there are some traditions that I insist on keeping from my childhood and then others that I have started since having children. I wanted to share some of my favorite ways we celebrate Christmas and the whole holiday season in our home.

Decorating the tree with special ornaments – The tree we use may change but one thing that will always stay the same is the type of ornaments that are on it. I love handmade ornaments made with love by my kids and proudly display them. These ornaments mean the most to me and I love seeing how my children have grown from year to year. I also love dough ornaments that feature our names on them. We had a new one of these every year I was growing up and I think they are so special to have.

Baking cookies – Some years we bake a lot and some we only back a couple types of cookies but this is always a fun time. My favorite cookies to bake during the season are peanut butter balls (which are basically crunchy peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate), peanut butter “kiss” cookies, and sugar cookies. The sugar cookies my mom used to make are my favorite. The dough is rolled into a log, the log rolled in sprinkles, and then the cookies sliced and baked. They were soft and buttery with just the perfect amount of sprinkles.

Eating popcorn in front of the fire – Lucas and I were doing this last night and that’s what inspired this whole post! The Popcorn Factory sent us a big tub of popcorn and as Lucas and I were eating the delicious treat I thought back on how this was a tradition I loved as a kid. We’d always get a popcorn tin (sometimes more than one of them!) filled with 3 or 4 types of popcorn. My favorites are the cheese and caramel. Yum! We don’t have a fireplace in our current home but I’ve found that the “fireplace” app on my computer works perfectly. Turn some holiday music on and you have the perfect way to relax with your family! (BTW- If you want to order from The Popcorn Factory make sure to select “overnight shipping” if you order Sunday or Monday in order for it to arrive on Tuesday in time for Christmas.)

Christmas Eve – Before we go to bed Christmas Eve we get in our Christmas pajamas, sprinkle “Reindeer Food” outside, leave cookies and milk for Santa, and read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. We then tell the kids they need to go right to sleep so Santa can come ;)

Christmas morning – This is the silliest thing but I am very particular about the order of Christmas morning festivities. We come down (still in our pajamas!) to see what Santa left us in our stockings and the one gift he left us, we eat a special Christmas breakfast and then we can open gifts. Not sure how that tradition will work in the future but as of now the kids are still okay with doing it that way :)

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

 

Our Christmas Season “To-Do” List

The Christmas season is here and I want to make sure that my family has a wonderful season of fun and making memories. The past years I have had many things I wanted to do but just didn’t get around to so this year I have made our family a Christmas “to-do” list. I figure if it’s written down there is more of a chance we will do the things instead of just thinking about them.

Here are the things I’d like to do this Christmas season:

*Throw a birthday party for Jesus

*Go to the zoo to see their lights display

*Visit Santa

*Make our Advent ornaments daily

*Put together a Gingerbread Train

*Give the boys new Christmas pajamas

*Drive around town looking at Christmas lights

*Donate money to Salvation Army bell ringers

*Bake (and decorate) cookies together

*Make some Christmas crafts to hang on the walls

*Wrap gifts for others

*As a family choose a gift from World Vision’s gift catalog to give

*Make Christmas cards for our loved ones

*Send a letter to Santa

*Mail a Christmas card to a soldier

*Get together with family to celebrate the Holidays

*Paint wooden ornaments for our tree

*Get family Christmas pictures taken.

*Have a Christmas movie marathon in our pjs

*Read a Christmas themed book every night before bed

*Make “reindeer food”

*Leave cookies and milk out for Santa

*Get a family dough ornament made

*Go downtown Chicago to look at decorated window displays

*Go to the light show at our local outdoor mall

*Play in the snow and then come inside to drink hot chocolate

*Donate food to a local food pantry

*Go sledding

*Make paper chain garland for the tree

*Make a snowman

*Move the Elf On A Shelf to a new place everyday and find him as a family

*Eat chocolate from our Advent calendars

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What’s on your family’s Christmas to-do list?

10 Holiday Planning Tips

The Holidays are just around the corner so I wanted to share some ways that you can start planning now for a less stressful Christmas season. Here are my top 10 tips:

1) Start now! Once the Holiday season gets going you are going to have tons of events to go to and things to do.

2) Look through your Holiday items and take stock of what you have. I have found in years past that I have bought items I already had because I thought I ran out the year previously or needed more. I think I have enough gift wrap for the next 3 years now!

3) Consider making Christmas gifts this year. Everyone loves handmade gifts and it saves you money! Look through magazines or search Pinterest for great ideas and buy the supplies you will need to make them.

4) If you will be making Christmas dinner or having family over start planning your meals and send a “save the date” email to family so they can put it on their calendars now.

5) Plan and schedule family Holiday pictures. Figure out what your family will be wearing and what you will need to purchase. Does anyone need haircuts before the appointment?

6) Prepare to send Holiday Christmas cards. Do you have everyone’s address that you need? You can send out store bought ones or create something special by going online to a place like Storkie.com and personalizing cards.

7) Create a budget. I know how easy it is to head out shopping on Black Friday and spend way more than you planned on so I suggest making a budget for your Holiday shopping before you go out to the stores.

8) Think about traditions. Pull out a piece of paper and a pen or your ipad and make a list of all the traditions you enjoyed as a child, have enjoyed with your family in the past, or want to do with your family this year. Add any to your calendar that need to be scheduled ahead of time. Keep the list with you to refer to during the Holiday season to make sure that you don’t forget any of the important traditions you want to continue or start.

9) Along with all of the the things you feel you have to do, make sure that you plan in some time to relax with your family.

10) Start early! Yes, I already said this one but when this Christmas is over start preparing for next year. Buy toys, gift wrap, and decor on sale so you don’t have to pay full price for anything next season.

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I wrote this blog post while participating in the Storkie holiday blogging program. I received compensation for my participation. All opinions are 100% mine.