The holidays are a wonderful time of year to create Christmas traditions in your family. Growing up, we had a few traditions of our own in my household. We’d go for drives through other neighborhoods to see the Christmas lights. We’d decorate the tree together as a family with Christmas music playing in the background. We each had our own box of ornaments that was specifically our own so that we’d always have our own ornaments to add to the tree each year. Even Christmas morning was full of traditions long after we stopped believing in Santa Clause. We were never allowed to go downstairs before waking our parents first. They were the first to go downstairs to “check if Santa left yet” (aka to make themselves a pot of coffee since we typically woke them up WAY too early). We’d also take turns opening gifts so that we could all see what everyone was getting rather than it being a chaotic mess where we’re all ripping open our gifts at one time.
Traditions are so important for a family. They’re traditions that you’ll pass down to your own children as well. While we’ve only had one Christmas together in our own home in the last few years (the others were spent back home with family), we’re still in the process of creating our own traditions. I’m sure they’ll come after a few more holidays in our own home, but for now, these are the traditions we’ll have in our home.
We pick out the perfect tree at a local Christmas tree farm
No offense to those of you who love fake Christmas trees, but I grew up going to our local Christmas tree farm as a family and picking one out each year. To me, it’s just not Christmas to pull a tree out of the attic, brush the dust off of it, and set it up in your living room. I will never give up my real tree and thankfully Zack feels the same way. So this will be a tradition that we keep in our home once we’re back living in New England. Right now, it’s a little more challenging being in Southern California since their version of a “Christmas tree farm” is a stand in the middle of the desert where they sell trees. Totally not the same! So this will be something that will be very important to us once the baby is born and we’re in our long-term home.
We open gifts on Christmas Eve
We never did this in my household growing up, but Zack and I tend to open the gifts that we buy each other on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. Zack is the one who started this one simply because he was impatient that year. It was Christmas 2014, the only other Christmas we’ve spent in our own home together and it was the year he bought me my “engagement” ring. Out of nowhere, he approached me in the kitchen wanting to give me my gift so it then led to giving each other all the gifts we had purchased for one another. It’s nice because it gives us time to ourselves. Christmas Day is spent opening our gifts from family and friends over FaceTime or with them in person so Christmas Eve is more for us and our own gifts to each other.
We spend Christmas Day with family
Like I just mentioned, Christmas Day is spent with family whether it’s over FaceTime or it’s bouncing between all their homes, opening gifts. Whatever it may be, we’re with them that day. We do this for Thanksgiving as well. It’s just such a good way to spend time with them all even when they’re thousands of miles away. It allows us to celebrate the holidays as one big family and keeps us all connected. Once we’re back home, though, we fully plan to be physically present for these things. We’ll probably do gifts in our own home first thing in the morning with our kids and then bounce around to each side of our family that afternoon, but whatever the plan ends up being, we know we’ll be with family.
We send out Christmas cards
This was something I always knew I wanted to do when I got married and so far, I’ve done it every year (okay, I missed the first one, but that’s because we had been married for all of two months and we didn’t even have a photo together yet…so that one’s understandable). I just love sending them out to friends and family and keeping them all updated on life. I typically send them all a little note as well thanking them for their continued love and support and updating them on anything new going on here. Sometimes I add extra photos too for them to frame and keep in their homes. It’s fun and I know they appreciate it as well.
We go Christmas light sight-seeing
We used to do this all the time growing up. We’d get into our comfy clothes (bundled up with jackets of course) and we’d spend an hour or two just driving through the neighborhoods, looking at Christmas lights. I remember our surrounding neighborhoods in Vermont being FULL of gorgeous decorations. Burlington is always super pretty this time of year too. We were super little back then, yet I remember it like it was yesterday. I’d love to do this with our kids someday.