I love Christmas for so many reasons.  The decorations, time with family, holiday music, food, shopping, the list goes on. Traditions though, are what make Christmas extra special.

Building Traditions

When we got married 20 years ago, Dion and I each had family traditions that we loved and had to decide which ones we would carry on.  We also wanted to make our own traditions and have made it a priority to build these traditions with our family.  Maybe you’re newly married, just starting a family, single, or just need a few new traditions.  Here are some traditions that we’ve built over the past 20 years that we hope our kids will carry on or if nothing else will give them that feeling of nostalgia one day.

Decorate the Tree together

This is typically our first activity each year.  We’ve always tried to make this a special evening.  We play the same Christmas album that we bought the year we got married.  We put out a spread of appies and make it a special event to start the season. It’s definitely getting trickier to get all of us in on this tradition now that our eldest has moved out of town and going to university.  If nothing else we will try to FaceTime her in.  Thank goodness for technology:)

Christmas Light tour

We love driving around neighborhoods looking at all the pretty lights. We load the kids in the car, grab hot chocolates from a coffee shop, and go out to look at all the beautiful lights.  Make sure you’ve got Christmas music playing in the car too for that extra Christmas feeling!

Christmas Baking day

I bake quite a bit throughout the Christmas season but always take a day to make sugar cookies with the kids and decorate them.  I’ve got a fabulous sugar cookie recipe and now that the kids are getting older it’s even more fun because they take time to make the cookies so pretty.

Remember Generosity

Whether it be paying it forward and buying someone a coffee or bringing a family a food hamper, we always try to find a few ways to give generously and spread love.  It’s always easy to find some way to keep this tradition alive and the opportunities are always there if you’re looking for them.

Christmas Eve Service

We always go to a Christmas Eve service and usually serve in some way at this service.  Its become part of our family culture and it would feel very odd to not have this as part of our Christmas tradition.  Its another way that we remember the true meaning of Christmas

Make Christmas Day extra special

I polled all 3 of our older kids just last week and asked them what their favourite Christmas tradition was.  All 3 of them not knowing what the other would say ended up choosing the same tradition.  It was our Christmas morning tradition and this puts the biggest smile on my face because as I said, Dion and I have worked hard to build some strong family traditions and to know how much it means to our kids makes it so special!

We’ve had other family members and even friends join us for Christmas morning over the years and our kids always make a point to ensure that everyone knows our “routine”;) . The way we do Christmas morning came from a simple love for Christmas and wanting to find a way to make it last and be extra special.  So, here is our traditional Christmas Morning.

1 | Mom and Dad get their coffee’s.  Because all mornings start better with coffee

2 | Stockings are opened.  The stocking stuffers are wrapped and the kids open each gift one by one.

3 | Dad makes Eggs Benny.  This seems like a painful way to build up the excitement of opening the presents under the tree but as I mentioned, the kids have learned to love the build up

4 | Polar Express.  Ok, this one has been a funny addition but once again, the kids have grown to love this part.  There is a part in the movie Polar Express where Santa raises up a gift and announces “The first gift of Christmas”.  So, we sit and watch this five minute clip of the movie and then Dion in turn finds a gift under the tree and makes the same announcement as we all watch to see who will get the first gift this year.  This may seem corny but honestly, these are our traditions and we’ve grown to love them LOL.

5 | Dion plays Santa and hands out the rest of the gifts.  He organizes them all and we go one by one taking turns opening a gift, seeing what each person received and making it last.  Yes, this draws out the process but that is exactly what we want.

Once the tree has been emptied of gifts, we start Christmas dinner and the kids spend the rest of the afternoon sorting their new goodies and we have a fairly relaxed day.  Later in the afternoon our dinner guests arrive and this is typically a mixture of family and friends and we have a wonderful feast cooked for the most part by chef “D”

The surprise gift exchange

Everyone invited to Christmas Dinner is asked to bring $5.  Dion goes out a few days before Christmas and purchases a bunch of funny inexpensive gag gifts.  They’ve been anything from a tub of peanut butter to a dollar store pair of gloves.  They’re all gifts that I guess could be used but the point is, they’re nothing special LOL.

Dion collects everyones money as they arrive and knowing in advance who’s coming we figure out what will be in the pot and we arrange to have a $10, and $20, and a nice crisp $100 bill.

All the gifts are wrapped and 3 of the gifts have a bill wrapped in with them.  Then, we draw numbers and do a gift exchange.  No one can open their gift until the end but you can steal a gift or grab a new one (I’m sure you know how this goes).  Everyone just loves this game and the best part is finding out who ends up with the cold hard cash and who ends up with a tub of peanut butter.  The worst part is when you had the winning gift and either traded it or had it stolen from you LOL.

The Giving Manger | A new Tradition

I think its never too late to start a new tradition.  I’m so excited that we’re adding “The Giving Manger” to our list of traditions this year and I expect it will be a lasting tradition.  Check out the website for this company for full details.  The main idea behind this tradition is to teach your family the Joy in serving and acts of kindness throughout the Christmas Season.  Its starts at the beginning of December where the family sits and reads through the “Giving Manger” book and from there every day each member is encouraged to find ways to be generous through simple acts of kindness.  A tradition that I’m thrilled to get behind:)

So far, little Mila is very excited about “Baby Jesus” and his little bed that came along with the package:)

These are our traditions but I’d love to hear yours too! What is a tradition that you absolutely love and want to make sure it stays in your family.  Maybe we can add another new one to our list:)

Wishing you the best Christmas Season!