Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Family Traditions for Happy Holidays

Mom2MomEd Blog: Family Traditions for Happy Holidays
It's that wonderful time of year again! 

Whether you celebrate Christmas or another winter holiday, you can't help but notice all of the holiday hoopla that goes into this time of year. Heck, Christmas decorations have been out at the stores near me since October.

Whoa, hold on!

It's a busy time of year for all of us. It also usually lends itself to extra stressors whether they be due to financial stress or family issues. It seems like the happiest time of the year can also be the hardest at times. 

Browsing through my Facebook, feed I've noticed several posts already about Elf on the Shelf and other holiday traditions. I thought this would be a good time to talk about my family traditions and hopefully to hear about yours too!

We don't do Elf on the Shelf in my home. It's not really anything I consciously chose to opt out of, but rather that I've never purchased one (they are way expensive!) and so it's been easy not to participate in the fad. Plus, I tend to stress out over things like that and I fear that it would end up being one more thing that I have to do and end up not being fun as a result.

In the past my family has done an Advent calendar with books. It was a huge hit with my son. My daughter was a baby that year so she wasn't participating yet. I found many books at thrift stores and collected them over the course of a few months--but you can read about our recommended book list for early and pre-readers HERE). After I have collected the books, I then wrapped them randomly in paper and put them in a basket. Each night at bedtime (when we typically read books), my son would get to pick any book to open and we would read it that night. 

It was so fun for all of us! 

I did wrap one book differently to save for Christmas Eve. It happened to be The Night Before Christmas and worked out perfectly!

We've also done Lego Advent calendars before but I don't feel like my kids were old enough to really get the concept that they all go together in the end. It was more like a little toy every day and they were lost by the end of the month.

{{Note from Malea: My son has loved the Lego Advent calendars for years, and still does at 18!}}

Throughout the holiday season, we usually pick a night (or two) to make hot chocolate and take it with us as we drive around and look at Christmas lights. This is one of my favorite traditions! I think the rest of my family enjoys it just as much as I do! There are some neighborhoods near us that go all out for the holidays and you actually can park and walk up and down the street to enjoy the lights. I love doing that, but I really do think my favorites are when we can drive around and sip hot chocolate from the comfort of our car.

In addition to these fun traditions, my husband and I host Christmas Eve at our house for our extended family. We have done so for the past 10 years, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. It's small and is just my little family, my parents, and my brother. We exchange gifts that night to take some of the pressure off of Christmas morning. My husband and I have made it a tradition to make a gigantic (i.e. massive) seafood feast. We have crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, and anything else we can get our hands on. It's so much fun to plan and prepare and then we serve it like a seafood boil and just lay it all out on the table. The kids love it, the adults love it, and it's a really fun night we all look forward too.

We all hang our stockings on the mantel on Christmas Eve and while Santa fills our children's stockings, my husband and I do one for each other. I always love shopping for my husband's stocking. I love finding small trinkets and knick-knacks that I know he will enjoy. Anything goes....little toys, favorite snacks, and whatever else we can find. Usually there are a couple of funny things thrown in as well, like Poo-Pourri spray, but for the most part the stockings are full of useful and fun items we may or may not have purchased for ourselves.

Those are just a few of our family traditions that I am looking forward to this year. I'd love to hear how your family celebrates the holidays and what fun things you do that are unique to your family.
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