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What Are Your Christmas Traditions?

I'm curious to know what your Christmas traditions are. I always get my son an Advent Calendar, which is a countdown to Christmas and each day has a paper door you open and get a small piece of chocolate. My son loves those, even at 13! We also each pick out a special ornament. We now have many after several years. And of course we always enjoy putting up our tree and enjoy the lit up tree every day. I'm looking forward to hearing what your traditions are.

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My kids are still young, not yet 2 and 3.5, so we are just getting traditions going!

They make a cookie house with their grandparents. We are doing an advent chain link, and the elf on the shelf. We use to host xmas eve, but I am instituting movie family night (so xmas can be about quality time, not mommy cooking!)...Xmas morning we have homemade cinnamon buns (which I make multiple recipes of to give to neighbors and family).

I will also do one of those Santa videos for the kids, and letters to Santa. We might do a breakfast with Santa event, I can't decide. We will make lots of homemade cards and ornaments to give as gifts, and my daughter and I are making special gift bags for her preschool co-op.

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My kids are still young, not yet 2 and 3.5, so we are just getting traditions going!

They make a cookie house with their grandparents. We are doing an advent chain link, and the elf on the shelf. We use to host xmas eve, but I am instituting movie family night (so xmas can be about quality time, not mommy cooking!)...Xmas morning we have homemade cinnamon buns (which I make multiple recipes of to give to neighbors and family).

I will also do one of those Santa videos for the kids, and letters to Santa. We might do a breakfast with Santa event, I can't decide. We will make lots of homemade cards and ornaments to give as gifts, and my daughter and I are making special gift bags for her preschool co-op.

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We go out the weekend after Thanksgiving (or as soon afterwards as possible) to the same Christmas tree farm to cut down our own tree.

We have our Elf on the Shelf and leave out milk and cookies for Santa (although I suspect "Santa" would rather have a cold beer!).

Each year we have 1 brand new ornament that is designated for that year.

Our Christmas card is always a photo card with a picture of one or more of the kids, or us as a family, with a Christmas or winter theme (shepherds in the church Christmas play, building a snowman, etc.)

DD gets to open 1 present on Christmas Eve - and it's her Christmas pajamas for her to wear that night!

We definitely need to get an advent calender going though.

My cousin's wife told me a cute story from when she was a kid - they would make "magic fruitcake". They would throw a bunch of random food and ingredients into a bowl and mix it all up and then stick it in the oven. Dad would go hide with the kids while Mom "turned the oven on", when really, she took the bowl out and replaced it with an identical bowl that actually had fruit cake in it. And the kids had to hide until it was time to come out or the "magic" would not work!

(Course, now that I am telling the story, it sounds too much like "magic brownies".)

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We do Advent calendars. The week before Christmas we read a few verses of scriptures from the Christmas story each night and sing hymns. Attend the Carrollton Community Nativity Display (see www.thecommunitynativity.com). See the Christmas light display in Providence (1400 block of Providence Boulevard off 380). Bake Christmas cookies. Bass Pro Shop Christmas activities. Attend Journey to Bethlehem (see www.thejourneytobethlehem.org). I'm getting excited to just thinking about it all!

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Oh I needed this!! Thank you!!

We do the advent calendar too. Every Friday after Thanksgiving my daughter dances in the lighting of the local tree, then we prepare for her big Christmas dance show. After that we have started going to see ICE! in National Harbor - amazing!

Christmas Eve is always Christmas with my family...we do the family gifts and taco's for dinner! Yum! Christmas day is at my house...and we love having everyone over!

I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Christmas!!!

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Oh boy ~ we have so many!
Trim the tree and decorate the house the weekend after Thanksgiving
Advent Calendars
Christmas Program at the church
Make/decorate sugar cookies and gingerbread house
Tree of Sharing
Take the little ones to get pics with Santa
The boat cruise on the Lake called "journey to the north pole"
The kids get a new ornament every year that I have their name/year written on and they love finding just the right spot for them on the tree.
Christmas Eve church services
Open 1 present Christmas Eve (usually Christmas jammies from Gma)
Leave out cookies, milk and carrots
Read Twas the Night Before Christmas before bed
Wake up to filled stockings and gifts
Big cinnamon roll breakfast
invite entire family over for hot-cocoa and sledding mid-day (we live out in the boonies and have a lot of sledding hills :)
celebrate my SD's bday with a nice, big cake!

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-Countdown Calendar
-Pickle ornament
-Elf on a Shelf
-Decorating tree of course
- Cookies for Santa
-Annual, photo ornaments of the kids (one for each of them) that we put on the tree. I have done this since they were born. And, later when my kids are all grown up I will give them their photo ornaments for their own tree/family. My kids really look forward to their photo ornament every year, and it shows visually how they are growing up and changing.

-Making a Yule Log cake
- Putting up a stocking for everyone, and even for my late Dad.

-- And... before Christmas, purging the old unused or outgrown, toys. With my kids.

- Adopting a family to donate needed items to. Via Salvation Army programs or community programs.

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We decorate together the week of Thanksgiving, watch christmas movies together all month long, a new one this year we have an Elf on a Shelf, we make cookies christmas eve, go to my parents house on christmas eve for gifts and lunch/dinner, open christmas jammies on christmas eve, and we always read Twas the Night before Christmas.

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We always have an advent calendar too. Of course your regular merriment, putting up the tree and decorating, baking cookies, making gifts and all that. We set up the manger and put one piece in for each day and then the baby at midnight on Christmas Eve. I hand a gold star from the table behind the manger upward on a blue cloth and the closer it gets to Christmas the closer the star gets to the manger - I move it. We have a Advent table wreath next to the manger with four candles around it, one for each week before Christmas and light one each day letting it burn a while and saving it for the next day and so on. As we light it we say a particular poem for it. We practice singing songs because we all sing on Christmas Eve when everybody gets together. We also practice a bit of a play/presentation to put on when we get together. Then on Christmas Eve the children play games like pin the star on the Christmas tree and other things, we sing, everybody brings food, Grandma tells a story of Joseph and Mary. When my kids were children it was a bit different and of course we'd put out cookies for Santa. This is most of it, but said in kind of a nutshell. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

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-Everytime we leave the house for anything, unless we're running late or it's really late at night, we take a completely different way out and home again after dark to look at all the lights and decorations people have put up. We go out of our way in different neighborhoods and all.
-There is a neighborhood nearby that goes "over the top". It's called Christmas Card Lane. It's a large neighborhood and nearly every house has a large wooden "Christmas Card" and all manner of decorations. We randomly pick a day and head over there, turn off the headlights and just leave the running lights on and slowly roll around the neighborhood along with all the other cars. Sometimes we'll get out and walk some of it, sometimes we don't..kind of depends. People will actually rent limos and drive around this neighborhood :)
-Every year we make a point of picking one of the children from the bookstore's "tree" and donate a book from each child, we also donate to Toys 4 Tots and will sometimes buy something for some of the other charity "trees" we see. Each child makes a donation.
-We do something special just as the 5 of us for the Winter Solstice
-We have a bunch of immediate family's birthdays at the end of December so we always have a birthday party of some sort.
-We make many trips to Disneyland for the holiday season and for birthdays. We also bring in the New Year there.
-We have a resuable advent calendar we bought at Disneyland some time ago that you move the velcro thingy over each day. I hope we can find it this year, the box it is in got hastily put in the storage unit after an emergency and we can't find it yet (we're looking though!!)
-Christmas Day is always changing. If my brother and SIL go up North to her family then we don't do a family get together until some time in Jan. If they are here then we go to my parents house for a family get together/dinner/gift exchange.
-Christmas Eve the kids leave out their Thomas giftbags (long story on how that started LOL). Santa doesn't wrap any of their gifts (he's very ego friendly that way!) so we leave out our large reusable felt gift bags. These things are huge! I could easily fit my 2 year old in with room to spare. (Michael's has them). Anything too large to fit in the giftbags or the large felt bags just gets left out on the couch, floor or table in the living room.
-The only gifts that go under the tree are those for other people outside of our house. Santa leaves the kids' gifts on and around the coffee table and on the couch (again..another long story on how that came about)
-Santa only brings gifts for the kids on Christmas Morning.
-Christmas Eve we leave the NATO Tracking Santa page up, refreshing it every so often to see where Santa is.
-We watch The Nightmare Before Christmas while decorating the tree.

I know I am forgetting things! But as you can see we keep things busy :) We have been teaching our children about Winter Holiday traditions around the world, religious and non. We reflect on how this season is important to so many people and how it's not exclusive to anyone. Because of that they like to incorporate many things from all of those beliefs.

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We usually have a mishmash of holiday fun:

Beginning of December, we get a tree from the local co-op lot. We do pick out a new ornament for Kiddo each year, too.

Later:Some sort of Solstice Gathering at our home or the home of a friend.

Letter to Santa: we take dictation (he can ask for one thing), then address and stamp the envelope, mail it in the big postbox down the street, then go out for pizza at the local pizza place. Yummy tradition and this will be our third year.

Sometime in there, we'll get a sitter and hubby and I will head to our favorite British pub, which will be all decked out for Christmas. It's like walking into a grown-up Harry Potter set. If we can't get a sitter, we'll take Kiddo and forego the numerous cribbage games we usually indulge in.

Christmas Eve: go out to Peacock Lane, one of those "all lit up for Christmas" streets. We park and walk and sip a flask of brandy or whiskey and wade through the crowds of tourists.

Hang stockings, kiss Kiddo goodnight and then Christmas morning...exchange gifts and a simple dinner at our home or a friend's.

Christmas with my extended family is a lot of work and less fun (and three hours of driving in snow--nope!), so keeping it really simple works for us.

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We go to Lowes and buy our tree as a family and then promptly fight (each other and the tree) to get it on the roof of the car and tied down. We decorate the tree together with Christmas music playing in the background. We do have the Little People Nativity and I try to teach my daughter, but it's hard as she has no interest. She is only 2 1/2 so it makes sense that she's not interested. I do buy my daughter a personalized ornament like you see in the mall of what she is interested in that year. Her first Christmas was a baby's first Christmas, last year was Dora, and this year it will be Toy Story. My husband and I also try to get an ornament of all the places we travel to as a reminder.

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