“Like snowflakes, Christmas memories gather and dance—each beautiful and unique."
Holidays! Why do we always seem a little more upbeat, excited, and energetic around this time?
We've been thinking about this a lot, and as our kids get older, we don't want the magic of Christmas to go away. So what makes special occasions so special?
Do you know what we think the secret ingredient is? Traditions! Traditions are what make lasting family memories!
As the saying goes, we don't necessarily remember what we received for Christmas as a child; however, we do remember the traditions we had as we anticipated what Santa brought that year. These rituals are significant for your families, and in our opinion, they are the staples to help you get through the tough years that we all seem to have from time to time. It's these traditions that we look back on and think fondly about, and it's these traditions that give our kids memories they will never forget.
So now that you are well aware that we are firm believers in traditions, we thought we would share with you a few that our family has for Christmas. We hope you can adopt a few of these for your family as well.
Our Family Christmas Traditions
Advent Calendar Countdown
A teacher we worked with many years ago gave us this idea. Jenny, the teacher, had something exceptional to do with her kids each night in December. Some nights were big things like getting ice cream at an ice shop, and other nights were small gestures such as hot chocolate and a movie or game night.
We have been doing this tradition for years, and it is one of the kids' favorite things to do each morning in December. We found an Advent house at Target that we use. The kids open a door each morning, and there is a special treat for them to do that night. Now that they are older, it might be to go to watch Caden play basketball, but they know that every night in December, we are doing something together as a family. This tradition is our family's all-time favorite.
Choosing a Live Tree
Getting a live tree was a tradition at our house growing up, and we carried it on to our own families. We treasure the memories of our mom, dad, and us two girls packed in my dad's single cap blue Ford truck and heading down to Walmart to buy a live tree. We maybe didn't have a lot of money to afford a tree every year, but somehow my parents always did it. We still talk about the excitement and joy we felt as we were driving there, decorating it, and together as a family walking out to the road to see the tree lit up from the driveway.
Now that our dad has passed, it's these memories and the fondness of this tradition that keeps us smiling.
Whether it's putting Christmas lights on our house, going to Santa's Wonderland in College Station, or driving through Pecan Grove in Richmond, we always try to look at Christmas lights each year with the kids. There is something just magical about getting hot chocolate, listening to Christmas music, and seeing a little sparkle in everyone's yards. Christmas lights always help Christmas feel magical!
Baking Cookies and Goodies for Family
We love baking, but we especially love baking during the holidays. Get us a holiday apron, and we are ready! One tradition we have is baking and decorating Christmas cookies with cousins. Baking cookies with cousins was a new tradition we started when Amber built her house a few years ago, and it is now one that our kiddos and their cousins look forward to each year. We always bake the day we get out of school for the holidays, and are we all in such a good mood while baking!
Buying Wrapping Paper Each Year
So one of the "doors" on our Advent house is going to Hobby Lobby and picking out wrapping paper each year. The kids can pick whatever wrapping paper they like. We are not going to lie, this took a bit of adjusting on our part with wanting beautiful wrapping each year, but now we love that our tree all different kinds of wrapping under it that reflect the kids' personalities. We also don't have to put the names of their presents because they know which one is theirs! Talk about a tradition that works for all!
Making Their Rooms Magical
So each kiddo has a tree in their rooms. On their tree, they only have ornaments that they have made from school or that their grandparents have given them. Each year, Cam's mom makes Amber's boys an ornament. It's so sweet to see the past decorations, and they love looking at them and talking about the year she gave it to them. The ornaments reflect what they have been doing that year, and it makes decorating their trees personal for the kids.
Also, we don't just stop just at the tree! We let the kids decorate their entire room. We are only white lights kind of girls, but last year we let the kids put colored lights in their rooms. Cam strung lights on their ceiling and down the walls in Amber's boys' rooms. Is it the classiest rooms you have ever seen, nope! Yet, will the kids remember how fun their rooms were during December every year growing up? Yes!!! So now their rooms are bright and merry each year!
Nothing says Christmas more than matching my pajamas! A few years ago our mom bought the entire family matching Pjs, and it stuck. We loved it, and now a Christmas can't go by without us matching on Christmas morning. This is hopefully a tradition that will never end, and we will care it on with our own grandkids.
Always Remember the Reason for the Season
Finally, we love all the decorating, baking, movies, and hot chocolate, but it's most important to remember the reason we celebrate this holiday, Jesus' birthday. One tradition that is a MUST is to bake a birthday cake for Jesus, go to church at 5:45 pm on Christmas Eve, and take family pictures by the Christmas tree.
We are just getting the chills thinking about singing Silent Night in the dark with candles at the end of our church service. That is always the perfect touch to get ready for Christmas night.
A few pictures from Christmas Past.
Just talking about Christmas is getting us excited! We hope that you can take a few of our traditions and adopt them into your family.
We would also love to hear from you and get to learn about your traditions. We would love for you to share with us! Please DM or send us pictures to our Instagram account @theoldrivernest of your Christmas customs. We can't wait to see them!
Happy Holidays Friend,
Amber & Brooke :)