Seasonal Sampler Day #13: Traditions

Welcome to Day #13 of my Seasonal Sampler FREE blog event! Today I wanted to chat about traditions. As my husband and I have been looking ahead to the holiday season, we were discussing how somehow along the way we've let go of some of our holiday traditions. Some of that is due to the frequent moves we've had over the years. Some of that is due to just being too busy. And some of that is due to after losing Joey, some things just didn't feel "good" any more. I think we're in a good place now and want to make sure that Katelyn and James get a special holiday season. We recognize that in our traditions, we make connections with our children.

Here are a few traditions that we've embraced over the years:

#1: Gingerbread Houses

The past few years, we've started decorating Gingerbread houses for the holidays. James feels like his sister's strive perfection is a little "too bossy" so this year we're creating a village in which everyone gets to make their own house the way they'd like.

#2: Christmas Eve Present Opening

My husband's family embraced this tradition when he was young. On Christmas Eve the kids could pick one present under the tree to open. I've wrapped a special "Christmas Eve Gift" for each of the kids just for that very idea. This will be the first year we've given this tradition a shot.

Source: Tomkat Studio FREE printable

#3: Christmas Gratitude Countdown Chain

This was something I did as a child. We would create Christmas chains for each of the 24 days until Christmas. This helped us refrain from bugging my Mom over and over again with how many days until Christmas. Our family has slightly changed this tradition. We create a chain on which each link contains a written phrase or word of something for which we're grateful. This makes it a little more meaningful. We typically hold a Family Night near Thanksgiving for this tradition.

#4: Christmas Story Books

We started this tradition last year based on inspiration from online friends. We've wrapped up 24 holiday children's books. Each night the kids take turn opening up the gift, and then we read the story together as a family.

#5: Holiday Lights

Each year we have a wonderful drive through a holiday light display right here in our home town. We bundle up and then drive through the village with our windows down so we can see the lights and hear the holiday music blaring throughout the park.

#6 The "Wish Book"

Do you remember when stores would send out those HUGE merchandise catalogs? Then you would circle or mark the page on which your favorite toys appeared. This is James showing me the Lego set he's hoping to get. That's a tradition that seems to happen naturally around here.


#7 Elf on the Shelf

We've never done this tradition before, but I'm definitely thinking about it. What a darling concept to have a naughty elf running around the house creating havoc all the while watching the kids to make sure they are being good for Santa. I've pinned a bunch of ideas for this on my Pinterest board HERE if you're interested. 

#8 The Nativity

Every year the kids take turns putting out the nativity. They fight (which is really ridiculous) over who gets to do it. I love that they enjoy talking about and setting up the scene of the Lord's birth, but I think we need to work on not arguing over it don't you think? 

So now I want to hear about your family traditions. Are they culturally based? Are they religiously based? What makes them a tradition in your family? What made you embrace them in the first place? Are you documenting those memories for future generations? 


  1. We always do a huge nativity and place boughs of greens around it and run mini Xmas lights through them. My daughter has the same set, and in her family, they don't place the baby Jesus in the manger tilll Christmas day.
    We always went to Midnight Mass once the girls were teenagers and preset the oven to come home to fresh baked Tortiere and some lovely Christams babking for desert. There was always some business with Christmas music on in the background while we bustled about at midnite with last minute bits!

    I always bake Mincemeat tarts with himemade pastry, 2 types of homemade shortbread, birdsnest, gingersnaps, and walnut snowballs. I wouldn't be Christmas without that special baking.

    Although I do a silver and red and white themed tree now, I stack huge glass bowls and vases with the old ornaments from our trees of the past and my Mums old ornaments...lots of vintage lovliness there.

  2. Having the kids just about 10 yrs apart, it gets tricky with the traditions for us. For years in downtown Minneapolis, the dept. store on the 8th floor would have a new animated story for the holiday season. That has disappeared due to the economy. Tree goes up on Black Friday. If I do bake cookies, it is done throughout the month of Dec. We started the Elf on a Shelf last year. Ben named him Jack. :) I buy one new Christmas book each year. I don't wrap them, but Ben chooses one each night for me to read to him. Some years, we drive around looking at the Christmas lights. Last year, we spent Thanksgiving in Duluth, MN. They had this awesome Holiday display you could walk through down by the harbor. That was neat!

  3. So many great ideas! We have many of the same traditions! Wish I could have caught onto the elf on the shelf earlier in my children's lives... That's one we never caught onto.

  4. We have a tradition of Christmas tree presents on Boxing Day....just a small gift hanging on the tree. We started when the kids were little to give them something to look forward to....but it's carried on as they've got older....and turned into a real family tradition.


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