One of my favorite things about the holiday season are all the festive fun family traditions. It's nice to pause and remember the magic of the season, which I'll admit, is much easier to do with kids. They have so much joy during the holidays, from the tree decorating, to the holiday music, to seeing Christmas lights around town, to baking cookies for the Big Man.
I always love hearing about different people's family traditions. Some are generations old, some are simple, some are complex, and some are first annual traditions. What's important is spending time with your loved ones and creating lasting memories.
I'm excited to continue/create these traditions with my own family. Do you have any special holiday traditions?
1. A reusable advent calendar
This is a fun tradition that I remember as a kid, although my parents always bought be one of those cardboard rectangles filled with mediocre chocolate (yes even as a kid I was a chocolate snob).
Nowadays I have a wooden advent calendar that we bring out each December 1st. The items I stock in this advent calendar include a mix of fun little toys, candies, and suggested activities.
I get good ideas from The Kindness Elves, which are an alternative to the Elf on the Shelf, such as making cookies for new neighbors, filling a bag of food to donate to the local food bank, or saying something kind to their siblings. Other suggestions to include in the advent calendar include watching a favorite holiday movie, making hot chocolate, and walking around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights.
Image from The Kindness Elves
Although I'm not going to lie, I do still have a fondness for those grocery store chocolate advent calendars!
2. A visit from Sinterklaas
My husband and I studied abroad in the Netherlands during college. Not only did we pick up a joy of traveling, but we picked up a few fun Dutch traditions as well (neither one of us are Dutch).
One is a visit from Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of St. Nicholas, on December 5th. Children set out their shoes by the chimney and that night Sinterklaas will leave oranges and gold coins in their shoes. It's a fun way to remember our time spend in the Netherlands. Plus, who doesn't love an excuse for an extra visit from Santa!
3. Something You WANT, Something You NEED, Something You WEAR, Something You READ
Our children are blessed beyond measure. So in an effort to try to limit the gifts that we buy for them, knowing full well that the grandparents will make up for it, we have followed the following tenet for Christmas gifts:
- Something you WANT
- Something you NEED
- Something you WEAR
- Something you READ
This is a helpful for reigning in spending, simplifying the shopping process, and remembering what the holidays are about.
And of course they still get a stocking and one gift from Santa.
4. A Visit to the Real Santa
Some of the other Santas we see around town may in fact be surrogate Santas. They get the word back to the big man alright, but if you want to go see the real Santa up close and in person, there's only a few places for our family to be and that's at either the Danville Livery or the Davis Odd Fellows Breakfast with Santa.
The real Santa comes to visit at the Danville Livery, a shopping center located in the upscale East Bay suburb. It's free to take pictures with Santa, and he accepts donations for ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation, located in Walnut Creek).
When we lived in Walnut Creek the 15 minute drive down to Danville was a quick jaunt, and a good excuse to eat at Sideboard. But since we moved back to Davis, it's a little longer haul, usually planned around nap time. It's always a good reason to visit our friends who still live in the area. And makes it seem just that more important of a trip if we're willing to drive all.that.way to see him.
But if we don't have time to drive there (and let's be honest, our weekends are in short supply during the holidays), then lucky for us, Santa also makes a special stop at the Davis Odd Fellows Breakfast with Santa.
Do you have any unique or quirky family holiday traditions?