Christmas Traditions

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I am big on traditions.  I always wanted every holiday to be magical when I was growing up.  I am sure it stressed my mom out, but she did a good job of making them feel magical.  I believe that traditions are the glue that keeps family close.  They don’t need to be elaborate or expensive traditions, just simple things that you do every holiday or every day (like bedtime routines) that kids can count on.

I have been wanting to start a book for our kids on the traditions that we have as a family, so they can remember them and we can keep them going.  As the years go on, I hear so many different good ideas and want to do them all.  I realized after trying to pack TOO much in, that it is better to have a few things that you can be consistent on, rather then A LOT of things.

Christmas is definitely a holiday that evokes so many memories from my childhood, and I hope it will for my kids too.  I thought I would write a post on what we do as a family.  I would LOVE to hear what you do for your traditions.  We can all glean good ideas from each other.


Cut Down A Christmas Tree

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This has been such a fun tradition.  We started doing this before we even had kids.  Our friends got us into this fun tradition.  In Utah, you can stand in line to get a permit to cut one down in designated forests.  The lines can be CRAZY – think Black Friday type lines, but so worth it when you get to hunt through the forest for the perfect tree.  We would make a day out of it.  Fresh trees smell so amazing in your home, and the real fun is tromping through the snow and scouting out the best tree.  This year in California, we couldn’t find a forest that would let us cut one down by us, so we went to a U-pick.  The U-pick grows 10,000 Christmas trees at a time.  They have a saw and wagons and you can hike up the hill and cut one down.  The farm smelled AMAZING!  I have never smelled pine so intensely.  The trees were surprisingly affordable.  We paid $36 for our tree in California.  In Utah, the permit, which was $12 was all that you pay for.


Christmas Books

I wrap 25 Christmas books and put them under the tree.  Every night, my kids get to open a book and then we read it by the tree.  The kids take turns choosing and opening the books.  They look forward to having their turn to unwrap the book.  It is fun having done it a few years in a row, because they remember the books now.  I have a few books that are my favorites:


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This is a cute little story about a girl who wants to become an elf.  The pictures are beautiful.  The kids love this story.  She rides a polar bear, cross country skis, and a few other things to get to the North Pole.  
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This is a cute book about why candy canes were invented.  My kids really like this one. It is good for young ones and older kids, too.

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This is a really sweet story of Jesus and the animals making room for him in their inn.

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I love this story.  If the books weren’t wrapped I would read this the day we go to cut down our Christmas tree.  It is about a little tree that learns the importance of giving.

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This is by far my favorite book.  It is for a older kids.  My oldest loves it, and the younger ones will grow into it.  It is a chapter book on how Santa became Santa.  It is really well written.  It also ties in a little bit of Jesus’s birth and a message about being kind and giving service.  I take this one in the car while we are driving longer distances to finish reading because it is over 100 pages.


Mini Van Express

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This is one of my favorite things we have ever done with our kids, aside from taking them on an around the world trip!  We acted like we were putting the kids to bed.  We brushed their teeth, read their stories, got their jammies on – the whole nine yards.  When they got in bed they found a golden ticket we had hidden under their covers.  At first, they didn’t know what it was.  We told them that it was a golden ticket to ride the mini van express. They went crazy when they didn’t have to go to bed.  Scotty was outside all dressed up and had the van going with Christmas music.  I had popped popcorn and stocked the van with treats and hot chocolate.  We drove to Thanksgiving point and looked at Christmas lights.  We let the kids hang out the sun roof while we slowly drove around.  Honestly, what made it so much fun was how surprised and how over the top excited they were.  I can’t wait to do it again.   Since we live in California now, I think I might do it at the Christmas Boat Parade in Newport Beach.



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I have been wanting to formalize the tradition of giving service throughout Christmas because I feel the true meaning of Christmas is to focus outward.  Every year we give service, but it hasn’t been formalized or the same every year.  I wanted to start something that the kids could look forward to each year that focused on the true meaning of Christmas.

I told the kids that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas time, and I asked the kids what we could give Jesus as a birthday present.  My son said serving others, which is the best gift we can give others and ourselves.

I am SO excited you guys, because I found something that will help me tie all of this together.  It is an amazing little story, and manger set called The Giving Manger.  You put a piece of straw in the manger for each act of service that you do.  This company was started by some moms who were passionate about teaching their kids the true meaning of Christmas.

I think I am most excited about this tradition. In my opinion, it’s the most important thing we can do at Christmas.


Bake Night

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This tradition was started by my mother in law, and I think it is a really good one.  Every year, the Moms in the family get together before Christmas to bake.  We make all the treats for Christmas day in advance.  We freeze the treats until Christmas, or if isn’t too far in advance, we just save them until Christmas day or Christmas Eve dinner depending on who’s year it is.  It is fun to have some time just us girls to catch up on things, and we knock out all the treats together.  Multi-tasking at it’s finest!

(I didn’t have a pic of all the ladies baking, so I thought I would throw one in here of my kids!)


Unwrap Pajamas On Christmas Eve

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Every Christmas Eve, we put out cookies and milk for Santa and open our Christmas PJ’s. I remember doing this as a kid.  I looked forward to it every year.  We carried on this tradition my family.  I feel like a lot of families have this tradition and it is a fun one.  I try to buy the jammies from Black Friday sales to save money and have them in advance, so I am not running around like a crazy person trying to find jammies – which I had to do one year because I ordered the wrong size!


Christmas Morning Breakfast Burritos

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Every year, I feel pretty sugared out by the time Christmas hits.  So I started making breakfast burritos for Christmas morning with fruit.  I have them down to a science now, because I have made them so many times.  I hope to get ahead of myself this year so that I can make them in advance and just pan fry them on Christmas morning,  or at least partially make them.  It hasn’t happened yet… Part of me likes to cook while the kids are around me happily playing with their new toys.


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11 Responses to Christmas Traditions

  1. Katie says:

    I love all your ideas! Thanks for the inspiration & enjoy a Merry Christmas!

  2. Sheila says:

    Love these ideas and especially all of your books about Jesus. Since most can’t afford that many books my thought was go to the library weekly and get seven books, wrap and unwarp to read. Return them and get more! I have 4 adult children with families and will be sending these on to them. Thank you for the great ideas!
    Blessings and Merry CHRISTmas!

    • Desi says:

      Hi Sheila! I LOVE your idea. That is a great way to get started. As the years go by you could buy one or two books to add to your collection. I will say the repetitiveness of the books is also fun. They know the books now and get excited to see which one they will unwrap. Thanks for sending these ideas on!

  3. Mar says:

    looking at your family beauty, not just visual, but all you do together, sparked my heart,
    How wonderful, thank you, bless you all ways.


  4. amy says:

    LOVE your traditions and how simple they are too! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Judy says:

    I love your ideas too! My niece had a baby a few months ago and I would love to start a book collection for her. Any ideas which book I should send first?

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