24 answers

Special Holiday Traditions

Hi Mommies,

With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up I have started thinking about special family traditions for our family. My husband and I have a little boy who will be 20 months in December and I think now would be a great time to start some traditions.

What kind of traditions do you all have that always bring you happy memories about your childhood, or that you have established for your own family and love? Please keep in mind that we are a secular family (NOT religious) and we celebrate Christmas only in the spirit of family togetherness. I grew up Catholic, so we still do the tree and all that. Do you make things together? Have special games, songs, do charity work, etc.? Any and all stories or traditions that make you smile or feel warm and fuzzy are welcome.

Thanks in advance Moms,


Edited to Add: Please respect my religious beliefs. If you disagree please vent to someone else. Don't judge and don't put your two cents in here. Please only respond if you would like to answer my specific question. Thank you Moms.

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I have 2 boys, 6 & 3 yrs old. I started baking gingerbread & sugar cookies with my oldest when he was a year old! I started him in the high chair with his own dough & a plastic cookie cutter. Now we bake cookies for all the holidays together. This is the one tradition I started that stands out in my mind.

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One thing i have done since i was 10 or so was to write myself a note about the previous year. Who were my friends, what was important to me.. etc. It is so funny to read them the following year. I have started doing this for each of the kids. I have put together a set list of questions.. like.. who is your best friend.. what do you like to do the most....

When they can't answer i answer for them. As they get bigger they answer.

it is really neat

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Growing up my family had a small bell on the tree and my 3 siblings and I would take turns ringing it before we went to bed on Christmas Eve to let Santa know where we were. Now that I have two children, I have kept that going with them.

Something else that I have done with my children that they have loved growing up is I had bought this book - "A Story A Day Until Christmas" It has wonderful stories in it. Some are long and some are short, some spiritual and some not. I used to read it to them right before bed all snuggled up. When they were old enough to read, we took turns reading the stories. They are memories I won't ever forget.

I hope you find what works for you and your family.

Our favorites are apple picking, pumpkin picking and Christmas tree shopping (we go to Jone's Tree Farm in Shelton and cut down our own).
E. K.


I have 2 boys, 6 & 3 yrs old. I started baking gingerbread & sugar cookies with my oldest when he was a year old! I started him in the high chair with his own dough & a plastic cookie cutter. Now we bake cookies for all the holidays together. This is the one tradition I started that stands out in my mind.

Hi Kat,
My husband and I still need to come up with a Christmas plan ourselves, but Thanksgiving we have down. On Thanksgiving morning I get up early and make homemade donuts, my husband brews coffee and we have an open house for folks who are either driving by on their way to their Thanksgiving dinner or for people who are staying home. It started many years ago when we lived near 2 major highways. Now we are more of a destination but the tradition continues. It's a great lighthearted thing to do, there's no holiday pressure to it, eveyone is happy when they get here and when they leave and we often get to see folks we miss during the year. After donuts wraps up at about noon, we either have dinner with friends and/or family here or travel to their house.
Good luck, I'd love to know what you come up with.

We have my daughter make a ornament for the tree. She loves it and every year we put it on the tree we talk about how much fun we had making it. I still have some of mine and i am 37. So i tell her about the one's I have made. We some times put a picture on the back so we can see how much she has grown in a year. Good luck.

Love this thread! Holidays are all about togetherness and traditions.

We have many for Christmas. For Thanksgiving, we are still working on something more than the traditional "say something you are thankful about."

1. Books -- I have a huge collection of holiday books collected over the years that I pack up the rest of the year. You could start by just buying one or two books a year until you have a bunch. I take the box out at Thanksgiving and we read one story a night until Christmas.

2. Ornaments -- I do this for my own children as well as all my nieces and nephews. It is one of everyone's favorite things. I pick out an ornament (my own kids help pick out theirs and their cousins) that has something to do with that year and get their name and the year put on it. I take pictures of my kids ones to keep in an album when they get them. I try really hard to make sure it has importance to that year -- this year my son's is a horse because he started horseback riding. My favorite is the year I found the "Braces Off" ornament for my niece when she got her braces taken off. I also always buy an ornament for the family when we are on vacation to commemorate where we went that year. The kids love unpacking and hanging their ornaments and telling the stories.

3. Gingerbread house -- every Christmas Eve my mom decorates gingerbread houses with all the grandkids.

4. Christmas breakfast -- growing up my mom always made a traditional Christmas bread for breakfast Christmas morning. I didn't like it but it was still a neat tradition. Now I do it with Cinnamon rolls. Something easy to enjoy while opening presents.

5. Reindeer food -- oatmeal and glitter in a sandwich baggie. Go out and sprinkle in the snow. We usually add a couple carrots too and then my husband goes and breaks them off so only little pieces are left behind.

6. Cookies and Milk for Santa

I'm sure I will think of more later! Going to print some of these ones from others too. Great ideas!


THANKSGIVING--We gather at Nana's home for a Thanksgiving dinner around 2PM. Since we're the only ones who don't live right in town, we always stay overnight there and help get the turkey in the oven early in the morning. We help with all of the fixings, while my SIL brings a squash side dish, and my other SIL brings the coveted chocolate pie. EVERYONE loves the chocolate pie(s). (Last year we had it at our house and only half of everyone came. I guess the break in tradition was too much for people.)

CHRISTMAS--A week or two into December, the three of us go out to cut our own tree. We then spend the afternoon, decorating the tree, setting up creche scenes and Advent calendars (catching up on the dates we've missed), along with decorations throughout the living room, while listening to lots of Christmas music (Alvin and the Chipmunks, international Christmas music, classical, hammer dulcimer, goofy and serious). When the tree is up, then the next couple of weeks are spent baking cookies.

I used to bake a bunch of different cookies. Now it's down to just Cream Cheese Cookies, which I've been told is the only recipe I ever need to bake in our house at Christmastime. : ) They're our favorite cookie partly because of the process. You bake them, then when they are cooled, you dip them in melted chocolate. Then we eat a bunch, wrap plates as gifts, and inevitably bake more because too many have already been eaten or given away.

We also pick some gifts from a Giving Tree (at church, but lots of businesses and non-profits have them, too). We buy the needed items and bring them back at the designated time to be distributed.

I grew up with us always opening the gifts on Christmas Eve evening. I don't know if that was because my dad was a pastor and had Christmas day services or because we are of German heritage. I've been told it is the latter.

With six kids, the youngest distributed the gifts to everyone (with help if needed). Then we started opening them from youngest to oldest, or oldest to youngest, one gift at a time. That allowed us to savor the gifts along the way. On Christmas day, we each got a small stocking filled with pencils, erasers, and other fun little stuff. (But it all had to fit in the small stockings my mom had made...nothing extravagant.) It was delightful, exciting, and simple, leaving many fond memories. We never traveled to family because they were a day's travel away. It was always just my immediate family which I loved.

For supper we always had beef stroganoff on wild rice and peas, along with a plateful of all sorts of different Christmas cookies we had made over the past few weeks. The stroganoff was my favorite meal of the year. My mom rarely fixed it otherwise. She also put a little tomato soup in it to give it a nice warm color (instead of what other people call stroganoff...gray : P)

My husband grew up with gift opening happening on Christmas day. And then his parents would have a smorgasbord of food for relatives who passed through for visits throughout the day. Santa always left stuff, along with gifts from mom and dad. The gift opening was a free-for-all, everyone opening gifts at the same time with lots of laughter.

Our own family tradition is a blend of both of our childhood traditions. We have a special dinner at home with just the three of us on Christmas Eve. We open all of the gifts from my family that are under the tree that evening...one at a time. And we play with them as the spirit moves--sometimes right away, sometimes after all are opened--or read them if they are books.

We leave a plate of cookies and milk, with a note, for Santa. After our son has gone to bed, Santa arrives, eats all the goodies, and leaves a thank you note to our son.

The next morning, we open our stockings filled with chocolate kisses, mini Dove bars, Reese's peanut butter cups, a new roll of tape, fun-shaped sticky notes, a new pen (or pencil or one of those cool erasers that are the length of a pen), some little toy or something special (CD, earrings, etc.), and a clementine at the toe. The exact content sometimes varies but the basics are always there.

After we've had a mellow morning and cooked a nice breakfast, we leave late-morning for Nana's house. In Nana's living room, gifts are distributed for those who are there and gift cards/money envelopes are pulled from the tree branches. Then presents are all opened at once, Santa's gifts and all. As other relatives arrive throughout the day, more gifts are opened and lots of food is eaten.

The great thing about this pattern is that we both get our own tradition to savor and our son gets his new blended version, the best of both.

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