Amanda mentioned that she and her husband are working on creating their family holiday traditions .
As I was reading through her list, I got a warm and fuzzy feeling! I love Christmas holiday traditions, so I thought that I would share ours with you.
Our Holiday Traditions
Decorating. We spend the day after Thanksgiving putting up all of our holiday decorations. I turn the turkey leftovers into hot browns  (to make my husband feel like he’s at home in the South), make pumpkin pudding, and we decorate the house inside and out.
Elf on a Shelf. As soon as we decorate we pull out our elves. We do a varied version of the elf on a shelf . We have the elves, but not the story. Although it hasn’t stopped the kids from understanding that the elves are watching them each day. Each morning the kids check to see if the elves have moved and continue to be mesmerized by them.
Advent Calendar. Each morning the children take turns moving the snowflake on our advent calendar , counting down to Christmas.
Gingerbread Cookies. One of my favorite holiday traditions as a kid was to go to my Grandma’s house and eat amazing gingerbread cookies! When my Grandma passed away a couple years ago, I made sure to get her cookbook so I could carry on the tradition and make the cookies with my kids. I found the recipe in her cookbook, but unfortunately, I think she must have improvised on the recipe, because last year our gingerbread cookies didn’t turn out at all like my Grandma’s! So, if you have a fantastic gingerbread cookie recipe, let me know, as I plan to continue the search!
Theme Ornaments. Since our kids were born, they were each assigned a theme ornament . Each holiday season we have angels, snowmen, snowflakes, reindeer, and santas for each person in the family to decorate with. Each year just after the holidays, I try to pick up new decorations in each person’s theme for the following year.
Photo Ornaments. After we have our holiday pictures taken, each child gets a new picture ornament  with their photo in it. We originally tried to coordinate the photo ornaments with the theme ornaments, but that got a little complicated! The kids love decorating the tree with their photo ornaments. The picture ornaments also double as stocking stuffers, which is a fun expectation for the kids.
Card Timeline. In addition to the photo ornaments, we have saved each of the holiday cards that we send out to family and friends with the kids pictures. They are displayed chronoligically in a car holder. I can’t tell you how much fun it is to pull it out each year and see how the kids have changed since our first Christmas with kids four years ago.
Making Fudge. I mentioned last weekend that we were kicking off our Christmas baking with Chocolate Mint Fudge. My aunt has made the fudge my whole life and I always look forward to it. Last year she shared the recipe with me and I’m continuing on the tradition, making it with my kids. They love making it, tasting it, packaging it, and delivering to their teachers and our next door neighbors.
Night Before Christmas Grandparents Edition. My parents gave the kids the The Night Before Christmas Recordable Book  this year. They were inspired by the commercial of the kids reading the book listening to the story prerecorded by the grandparents. I can’t believe how much the kids enjoy “listening” to grandpa and grandma read them their story. It’s obviously a tradition that’s going to be around for a long time!
Cookie Exchange. We started a new tradition this year with our neighbors. Yesterday was our first annual cookie exchange. Not only was it fun, but I now have an assortment of cookies to go along with our usual Peanut Butter Cup Cookies  and Crunchy Peanut Butter Balls .
Christmas Eve Pajamas. Each year, the kids get to open one present on Christmas Eve. We always had to wait until Christmas morning when I was a kid, so I wanted our kids to get to open one present early! It’s always new Christmas pj’s for them to sleep in that night. Not only do they love opening a present and getting to put on the pj’s right away, but it’s a fun to take pictures the next morning of the kids opening their presents in their new pj’s.
Family Games. One of my favorite family memories is playing board games in the afternoon on Christmas. Each year it seems someone would get a new game. I decided to make it an official family tradition, and each year we get a family board game to play. Our three year old asked for Cranium Cariboo  this year (it’s the only thing on his list), so that’s what we’ll be playing on Christmas afternoon! Although, I had no idea how expensive that game was, so I believe that Santa will be using eBay  this year to pick that one up!
Christmas Menu. The only thing we don’t have a tradition for is our Christmas Eve menu and our Christmas morning breakfast. I’d love to hear what you are making, as I’d love to establish a regular menu that we all look forward to!
This week, we’ll also stop to see Santa, visit the holiday trains on display, and drive around in the evening to look at all of the holiday lights.
What are your holiday traditions? Are they traditions you have from your childhood or new ones?