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Our Holiday Traditions

Date:12/15/2020
Author:Laura W.
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Men on a ski slope dressed in costumes representing Santa Claus and Christmas elves
photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Here at Yard & Home, we get very excited for the holiday season and have been making Christmas tree ornaments and sharing our Christmas traditions. Here are some of our favorites. Although we'll have to modify some traditions this year, you can bet Rudolph's red nose that we'll be dreaming up new ideas!

The Christmas Eve Box

Box decorated with candy canes and snowflakes with the words, Merry Christmas Eve

Open Christmas box containing pajamas, 2 mugs, caramel corn, and Santa Clause DVD

My husband’s grandma started a new tradition for us this year, called the Christmas Eve Box. She gave us the first box as a wedding gift. The box held new pajamas, hot cocoa mix, popcorn, a Christmas movie, and other goodies to enjoy on Christmas Eve.

There’s also a journal where we can write down who we visited, what we ate, special holiday memories, and favorite presents. The journal has pages for annual family pictures and Christmas cards.

Journal open, showing blank pages with with headings Special Gifts, Things we want to remember, family photograph, Favorite Christmas card

Before December 31, we have to replenish the box with new pajamas (which we can get on clearance after the holiday) and activities to do the next Christmas Eve. It’s going to be so fun picking out new things to open next year, and since it’s so far in advance, we will probably forget what we got, so it’ll be a surprise all over again when we open it next year!
- Jourdan U.

Fireworks & Breakfast Feasts

back view of a family in winter apparel watching fireworks

We have several Christmas traditions. We do Elf on the Shelf every year and that is fun for the kids—and for us. On Christmas Eve, we shoot off a firework before the kids go to bed, so that Santa knows where we live. We also mix glitter and oats together and leave that out to attract the reindeer. And, not to be missed, every Christmas morning we make our famous shrimp quesadillas for breakfast.
- Scott C.

Netflix & Grinch

couple watching a movie with a dog on their lap

My girlfriend and I have had a tradition of watching the original “Grinch” movie. You know, the cartoon one! We always sit down and watch it after our family’s Christmas Eve dinner. We know it's a tradition that we'll continue to do.
- Jacob C.

A Nonstop Christmas Story

 multi-colored christmas lights on trees

At 8:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, my wife turns on TBS so we can watch 24 hours of A Christmas Story. That movie plays nonstop in my home. My wife loves it and it has become our Christmas tradition. We also make sure to take the kids to the drive-through Christmas light show that our local minor league baseball stadium does every year. The kids love it!

-Jacob N.

STARTING EARLY

family decorating christmas tree together

Our Christmas traditions start the day after Thanksgiving. We always put our tree up that Friday and decorate it as a family. On Christmas morning, the first thing we do is have the kids look in their stockings. Santa brings them all sorts of chocolates and little gifts.
- Jeff H.

Fun Socks

family wearing rolled up jeans and christmas socks

We have sort of an odd Christmas tradition. Every year, we give our kids and grandkids a package of socks. This tradition started many years ago when our kids were little and we didn’t have a lot of money for presents, but we continued it over the years and the kids and grandkids still have fun with it.
- Bev R.

Stockings in Bed

kids running down stairs with stockings in their hands

Santa would leave my children's stockings on their beds, or right outside their bedroom doors. When the kids woke up in the morning, they would all climb into my oldest daughter's bed and check out their stocking surprises. It gave me a little extra sleeping time!
- Terry B.

Fantastic Foods

sushi arranged in rows on a plate
photo by Riccardo Bergami on Unsplash

There is something important about upholding family traditions through the years and from generation-to-generation; for me, it’s a link to the past—knowing that in various parts of the world and at various times in history, relatives in Poland, Lithuania, Austria, and Greece were eating some of these same foods during the Christmas season. Most of the original food items were basic: fish, cheese, and olives, while others were added to the table years later as money and access to more food options became available.  During my childhood, exotic fruits were added. We often didn't have  much fruit in the house, so a pineapple, or bananas, or grapefruit available all at once was special.

A typical Christmas Eve menu would take my mom a few days of work to purchase and prepare. It included the aforementioned fruit, dried apricots, various nuts to crack, fudge, marinated Kalamata olives, decorated sugar cookies, various herring (cream-style and in wine), ham with horseradish, rye bread, farmer cheese with lots of butter to spread on it, ginger ale salad, some style of potatoes, pies, ausukies (also known as kruschiki, a twisted doughnut made with potatoes), and Polish sausage from Lewandowski’s Market (on Grand Rapids’ west side).

Now that time has passed, and I’ve got my own family, we have added our own twist—each person chooses something that we don’t have on a regular basis: sushi, chicken wings, or just an hors d'oeuvre that is substituted in for an item or two that is not high on anyone’s list. Definitely none of my relatives were enjoying sushi or wings on December 24 way back before they became Americans, but I bet they'd have approved.
- Jayne K.

Sweaters & Cookies

woman and 2 girls decorating Christmas cookies

Every year, the adults in our family wear Christmas sweaters and the kids wear PJs and we have a big family Christmas party. In December, we have a tradition where the girls in our family get together and bake Christmas cookies. We all wear aprons and comfy slippers and listen to Christmas music.
- Nicole B.

Going to the Tree Farm

couple strapping freshly cut christmas tree to the roof of their car

Every year, my family insists on getting a real Christmas tree (although I am quite allergic). We go to the tree farm, find a tree, cut it down, bring it home, and decorate it. I also tend to wait to do my Christmas gift shopping until last minute because there aren’t usually a ton of shoppers on Christmas Eve! Then I can just go home, wrap the gifts, put them right under the tree and be done!
- Marlene M.

Treats for Santa & the Reindeer

cookies and milk with a note out for santa

When I was little, on Christmas Eve we would bake cookies for Santa and leave out some carrots for the reindeer. They deserved it for lugging Santa around all evening!
- Madison D.

Have any Christmas traditions you and your family celebrate? We would love to hear about them! Share below.

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