what are your Christmas traditions?

The holidays always seem to be a time ripe with traditions. The things you've done year after year just take on more meaning the more you do them. I remember being a new mom and thinking we had to have all of our traditions decided - as if having a child necessitated that we have it all together, ha! Well, I've since learned that traditions can't be forced, or you'll resent them and the joy won't be there. Traditions are best when they're gradually gained over the years, through trial and error, and simply living life. They really start when you do something once, love it, and think, "That. That needs to happen again. Maybe every year" or if we're honest, they start out of habits that we like enough to keep, and gradually become that thing we always do. So what are yours?

Here are a few of ours that we've done, in some cases since we were children, in others, only in recent years.

1. Advent. You can read all about what we're doing this year here and see a recap of last year's here. It really has made Christmas so meaningful to us, whereas in the past it would seem like Christmas snuck up on us.

2. Clementines in the stockings. My mom and dad always did it, and I've continued the tradition! We all need something healthy on Christmas morning before we dive into cinnamon buns and cake. Cake?

3. Birthday cake for Jesus. This is kind of a cute thing we started two years ago that our kids seem to love, and hey, any excuse for cake, right?

4. Champagne on Christmas Eve. This is obviously just for the parents, but Brad and I have enjoyed a glass of bubbly as we're putting the kid's presents under the tree the night before Christmas. Whatever's left pairs nicely with orange juice the next morning :)

5. Board game family gift. Growing up, Brad and his brothers were always given a group gift of a board game to share and play together over the holidays. Board games are an investment, so the holidays seems the perfect time, plus your kids are about to have two weeks off school, so it's like giving yourself a gift, too! This year we chose Les Aventuriers du Rail (the French version of Ticket to Ride) for our kids, when Asmodee Canada reached out to us. It's perfect for our family, as it accommodates up to five players. Our kids love travel, so it seemed especially fun!

6. Nativity Play Set. We have a porcelain (read: breakable) Nativity set that sits on a higher shelf, but I also picked up a plastic set from the thrift store with the purpose of the kids playing with it whenever they like. It's a favourite toy! They even take the pieces in the bath sometimes, haha! Their friends from school love playing with our Nativity so much, their parents have told me their kids are asking for one at their house, too. I think that's kind of cool! Anything that can connect the true meaning of Christmas to little hands and hearts seems worth while.

7. Christmas books. We have a growing library of Christmas books that we reserve only for December each year. Our favouites are How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, and L'étoile de Bethléem (a translated book, originally in English by Alan and Linda Perry) which has pockets with puzzles and activities inside. 

8. Christmas Day Bagels. Living in the Mile-End which is populated by a lot of Jewish families means everything is open on Christmas Day for us! We love to go on a family walk for hot bagels once we're ready to get out of our pajamas. The streets are full of neighbours all wishing one another glad tidings - it's times like this that I love city living the most, I think!

This post was in collaboration with Asmodee Canada,
all opinions are 100% my own.
To book a collaboration, contact me!


  1. Anonymous8.12.17

    I love this post! You have so many great traditions! My daughter (age 3) has been talking about Jesus wanting a chocolate cake, so I think we'll have one for Christmas Day. Your board game idea is a great one; we might adopt that idea as well.

    I have some traditions from my childhood that we've continued,some from my husband's family and others that we've created on our own.

    - Stockings - Growing up, we were allowed to open our stockings when we woke up (always with a book to keep up entertained), but we didn't open our presents until everyone was up. First we'd read the Christmas story from the Bible and sign some carols, then we'd pray, and finally we'd open our presents one by one. (Never a free for all!)
    - Chocolate advent calendar
    - Tourtiere on Christmas eve (this is one we started in our own family)
    - We have a basket of Christmas books, too! I love "Who Is Coming to Our House" and "Room for a Little One", along with the 12 days of Christmas
    - We got our daughter the Fisher Price Nativity set on sale last year and gave it to her in November. Like your kids, she loves playing with it and Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph go everwhere around the house with her.
    - Something we did for a few years was to take the computer and go watch "The Grinch" (animated version) outdoors with hot drinks. It was fun! My battery won't allow that anymore, though.
    - Going to a Christmas Eve candlelight service

    Three of my very favourite traditions that we do as our own little family are:
    - A caroling party. We have friends over, we go caroling in the neighbourhood. We take a large thermos of apple cider with us to warm up partway through. Then we come back to our place for meatballs (kept in the crockpot) and cheese/pickles, etc. It's so much fun! We went into our favourite bakery last time to sing for them, and the owner still talks about how nice that was.

    - Around mid December, we go for a walk to look at the lights, and then go out for hot chocolate at a fancy hotel.

    - We drive (or take the train if we can get a seat sale) to Toronto for the weekend to go to the Christmas market. We don't buy much at the market, but we love looking at the lights. We have our favourite spots where we go now (burgers, coffee shop, chowder spot) near the hotel where we stay. We've gone four years in a row, and we have so much fun looking forward to this family getaway.

    I can't wait to hear what your other readers post about their traditions, too!
    Merry Christmas!

    1. Anonymous8.12.17

      Woah, I just got on a roll typing and didn't realize how long that was. Sorry! I really just love Christmas traditions. ;-)

    2. don't apologize Sarah, I loved reading your traditions! We love The Grinch too! Our kids watch it a ton before Christmas. I also totally agree with presents being one at a time - not a free for all! Love these thoughts :)

  2. Les aventuriers du Rail is such a fun game! We play it from time to time with our adult friends and we always have lots of fun. I bet the kids will not be the only ones enjoying their gift. ;)

    As most people, our family has a lot of traditions related to the holiday season. My favourite one is probably baking day. Planning which desserts will be made, who we will give them to, baking together while listening to Christmas music, wrapping all the sweets and giving them... I always look forward to that special day every year.

    1. Yes, we'll totally play with our adult friends too, lol!Baking day sounds glorious!