This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of OshKosh B’Gosh; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
This week marks one of my FAVORITE times of the year. We celebrate Thanksgiving, and the holiday season begins! Michael and I each came from families who LOVE this time of year, and it’s been such a fun adventure to mix and match traditions from our families with new traditions created with our own little family.
When I asked a few weeks ago what you wanted to see, MANY of you messaged or commented about wanting to hear about family traditions. I thought today would be the perfect chance to share a few that we have LOVED the last few years. Some come from our childhoods, others are newly created with our little ones…
We put up our tree early.
This might be a little controversial, but after our first few years in Arizona, Michael once confessed, “It just doesn’t feel like it’s really Christmas.” I knew what he meant! When it’s still regularly up in the 70s-80s and sunny, it kind of feels like playing pretend sometimes. We’ve started setting up our Christmas tree a tiny bit before Thanksgiving and getting the decorations out early, too. It makes a huge difference!
Even if the weather is sunny and bright outside, it feels cozy and twinkly and magical inside when we all walk in for dinner. To go with the tree and twinkle lights…
We cut snowflakes.
This is a tradition borrowed from my family growing up. We moved a LOT and whether the place we lived had snow or not, we always added the same festive feeling by cutting out paper snowflakes and putting them on the window.
Even Milo (4) and Sophie (6) can participate in this tradition. I love the end result of dozens of snowflakes that all look a bit different. The grown-up snowflakes look a little more intricate and they look wonderful next to the adorable, more simple children’s snowflakes.
It’s especially wonderful here in the desert, where there’s not a speck of snow to speak of. Our house feels instantly cozy. Even though they’re just made of paper, it really does create that feeling at night of being cozied up in a warm house against a cold, snowy evening.
We go on a Christmas adventure.
Maybe that’s something like the Zoolights exhibit, or riding a decked-out holiday train. It might just be going out for cocoa somewhere or seeing a special show (like a dance recital or choir concert). But a little adventure is one of our favorite ways to feel special.
Last year and this year, that’s also meant a special outfit to wear. With the weather finally starting to change, we refresh everyone’s capsule wardrobe with a few things for this season from OshKosh. That means a few pairs of jeans and a cozy man-sweater or two for Milo, and an outfit nice enough for Sophie to wear to church or her school performances.
We look at Christmas lights. A LOT of Christmas lights.
This started when our kids were really little and the 2-hour dinner-to-bedtime struggle was the longest 10 hours of our day. Now, it’s much less about sanity survival and much more about calm, cozy magic.
Pretty much as soon as Thanksgiving is over and there are twinkle lights to be found, we will go finding. I pop on a Christmas playlist, and we drive through different neighborhoods in our jammies before bed. Last year, we loved scouting out a neighborhood that syncs their lights to music, and loved wandering through a Zoolights exhibit.
We find a way to give.
Whether that’s buying gifts for a family that might not otherwise get them, collecting food for a local pantry, or earning and donating money to a charity we love, this has been something wonderful to share with my kids.
Last year, we read a children’s book that talked about donating gently used toys for a toy drive. The main character really struggles with what to give, but eventually sees what good he could really do by giving. It was an AWESOME way to have a conversation about children and families whose needs are different than ours and of the joy of giving. It’s a great place to start if you have little ones who need help with the concept!
After we’d read it a few times, we went through all our toys a few weeks before Christmas and picked out as many items as we could to donate. We also found ways to give gifts and write cards of thanks to people who have helped us throughout the year (our mail carrier, teachers, neighbors, etc.)
We get new jammies.
In my family, the Christmas pajamas arrived on Christmas Eve. We’d change into them after our special Christmas Eve dinner (more on that in a minute), and watch one last Christmas movie before bed. (Then, my dad would block the hallway with a barricade of chairs so no one would be tempted to peek–ha!)
In our family, we always look for jammies that will last all year rather than Christmas-specific pajamas. OshKosh was one of our go-to resources this year. I couldn’t resist these baking pajamas for Sophie (my little kitchen helper), and I loved looking through all the choices for Milo. The quality is great enough to last even with regular wear and tear, which always makes me glad!
We decorate cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve day.
Christmas Eve day can feel like it takes FOREVER to get through. One way we broke up the time was by decorating Santa cookies and watching a Christmas movie in the afternoon. This year, I think we might go to the movie theater in the morning for an early matinee and then do cookies in the afternoon.
We have a Christmas Appetizer Feast.
Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner is my favorite dinner of the entire year. More than my birthday, Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas Day. It’s a dinner entirely made of appetizers and light bites. I thought my family was one of the only families who didn’t do a big fancy dinner. Little did I know that a lot of people do a variation on this tradition, including Michael’s family. It was an easy choice to carry on the tradition.
In my house growing up, it was things like jalapeño poppers, a cold salad or two, a cheese and crackers plate, mozzarella sticks, chips and dip, etc.
Michael’s family added things like hot artichoke dip, homemade rolls, chicken wings, etc.
At our house, we let everyone choose a favorite thing, then fill in with a few family favorites (I’m looking at you BBQ sauce mini hot dogs). Some of our favorites are chicken taquitos, a veggie plate with avocado ranch, mini hot dogs, chicken meatballs, a fruit plate, etc.
It’s a little mis-matched, but it’s always fun and delicious. My kids love this tradition as much as I do!