Our Family Christmas Traditions

In case you don't follow me on Instagram and it hasn't been made clear through this blog yet, I'm just going to put this out there- I am a freak about Christmas. I own it. I get serious hate from the "not until after Thanksgiving" folks, but here's my rationale: Thanksgiving is like pre-gaming for Christmas. It's spending time with loved ones, it's eating massive quantities of deliciously unhealthy food, but mostly it's just preparation for the real holiday celebrations.

I have only my mother to blame because she made a huge deal out of just about every holiday as kids. Seriously, she even hid little pots of gold for us to find on St. Patrick's Day. Even when it was just little things, she made every holiday so full of magic and fun. I want to make every holiday just as exciting and magical as she did for us. So now that Chuck and I have become our own little family and especially now that we're parents, these are a few little Christmas traditions that we keep in our home:

The very first tradition we keep always kicks off our holiday celebrating. Every Halloween night after Trick-or-Treat has come to an end, we turn off the porch lights, settle down on the sofa and watch our first Christmas movie of the season. We have a growing collection, but our three favorites are Elf, Love Actually, and The Santa Clause. We pop a bowl of popcorn or grab a pint of ice cream and we obnoxiously quote along with the entire movie. It is one of my absolute favorite "couple" things that we share together.

As soon as the Halloween decorations get put away, the Christmas decorations come out! Now that we're homeowners we really need to work on our arsenal of Christmas decor, because admittedly, it's pretty pitiful. I still have the same fake tree that I bought with my roommate in college and we have zero lights hung on the outside of our house. Because we're in a season of our lives where we are practicing frugality and sticking to a strict budget, we're not allowing ourselves to splurge on decor. Instead, we slowly accumulate a few more things year after year in hopes that one day, we'll be the most festive house on the block.

The one exception to our anti-splurge rule? Stockings. I haaaaad to get my boys their own personalized stockings. And if you want to know the honest to goodness truth about where to get the cutest personalized stockings- Pottery Barn. More specifically, we got ours from the PB Teen collection. Last year, we got Charlie a Peanuts stocking because duh- Charlie Brown. And then this year, we figured we'd just keep the Peanuts theme going and got Crosby his own Woodstock-adorned stocking. Chuck and I are still using our childhood Christmas stockings, but I may just cave and buy us some as well so that the whole family can match.

(Just pretend they say Charlie and Crosby)

I am not a "stuff" person. I detest clutter and knick knacks and live very simply. I think hoarders are crazy and people with extensive collections of things need something better to do with their time (and money!). There is, however, one area where I do veer slightly to the "crazy hoarder" side- wrapping paper. Don't ask me why, but I am obsessed with gift wrap and wrapping presents. I have very strong feelings toward people who use gift bags (lazy!) and will merrily volunteer to wrap other people's presents because I love it that much. At the end of every holiday season, I stock up on my favorite designs so that by the time next Christmas rolls around, I'm ready to go!

I take back what I said about gift wrap being my "thing." As I turns out, I actually have two weird hoarder things. The second being greeting cards. I have literally kept every single birthday, Christmas, Congratulations, etc. card I've received since I was in sixth grade. It means a lot to me that people take the time to send a card and show they care, so I always try to do the same. This year, I couldn't decide which print I liked better, so I ordered one from Shutterfly and one from TinyPrints:

Obviously, Christmas cookies are a must. The actual event of baking cookies seems to differ every year- some years I've invited a friend over to bake, other years it's been a huge gathering with my in-laws, and some years I just blast the Christmas music and bake solo. This year, I'm super excited because I'm hosting my group of ladies for a Christmas cookie and book exchange! Books and sweets? It doesn't get much better than that! I'm actually not a huge fan of traditional sugar cookies, so I always make two of the same family recipes that were passed down from my mom- Bourbon Balls and Thumbprint Cookies. My own family recipes are a little different, but those recipes come close.

Church and me have always been a little hit or miss, but I've never not gone to a Christmas Eve service. It always humbles me and reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas when I've done a tailspin into full-on crazy, gift-wrap-lady mode. When the congregation collectively holds their candles and sings "Silent Night,", it is the most beautiful and spiritual experience.

Santa didn't visit our house last year. We told him that since Charlie was so young, that he could pass over our house and come back the following year. This year, however, we decided to invite Santa to pay us a visit. Rumor has it that he's picked out custom ornaments that reflect this time in our boys' lives and even has custom gift wrap with their names on it. What wonders he can pull off at the North Pole!

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What are your must-do Christmas traditions?

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