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As I mentioned in my previous post, we’re going to call this post super-early instead of late!

A lot of us already have a lot of traditions that have been passed down in our families and there really isn’t “room” (in our schedules) to add any more!   However, if you are looking to add some new traditions to your family or tweak some that you already have, I’ll share some favorites of our family.

My mom is an incredible baker and cook.  My entire life, she has baked a large gingerbread house at the beginning of December, and we have decorated it as a family activity.  It would be on display the entire month of December.  On New Year’s Day we would smash the house and then eat stale gingerbread and hardened candy for the next two months as our lunchboxes dessert!

closeup of houses

Smashing the house was always a big deal for my brothers – intent on showing their strength by being able to punch it with their bare hands.  It only took me one attempt to realize that was a bad idea!  A month-old gingerbread house covered in royal icing and candy is HARD!!  We usually had to end up taking a hammer to it, but as they got older, my brothers could do it with their bare hands.

second closeup

Now that we are all grown, married, and with our own kids, my mom actually makes a gingerbread house for every single member of our family!!!  She makes the largest one for her and my dad.  A middle-sized one for each of her kids, and a small house for every grandchild.   We all get together at the beginning of the month and have a big decorating party.

At last year’s party, Roman fell asleep, so the grandkids gathered around him for the picture!

everyone with their houses

As nostalgic as eating old gingerbread is to me, I don’t eat the gingerbread houses anymore!

gingerbread houses

Another tradition that I have carried on from my youth is our advent calendar.  Instead of candy or little presents, we would get a little message with a surprise.  The great thing about advent calendars having 24 days is that 24 has so many factors.  We have three children, so each child gets eight days.  It works for most family sizes except five, seven, or nine.  advent calendar

In the picture above, the advent calendar is on the wall to the very far right.

The kids rotate days (we go oldest to youngest).  Here are some examples of what the prizes were:

  • There is a present hidden for you.
  • You can pick dinner for tomorrow.
  • You can pick dessert for tomorrow.
  • You will have a surprise tomorrow.
  • You can stay up late tonight.
  • You can pick a movie to watch tomorrow.
  • You can choose a place to have lunch tomorrow.

I look at my schedule for the month when I am planning the advent calendar, and I will often incorporate things we are already going to do as their prize.  (such as saying we are going to decorate gingerbread houses at Grandma’s)

I absolutely LOVED doing the advent calendar this way as a kid.  I had something to look forward to every third day, and now my boys love this tradition, too.  It is one of their very favorite parts of Christmas.

As an adult, my favorite Christmas tradition is the Christmas Eve party.  I love getting together with everyone and just hanging out, having fun, talking, etc..  My kids also really love the party, and they look forward to it as much as Christmas morning!

I thought I would throw in a few Christmas decor pictures as well.

Our Christmas card display, as explained in this post.

Christmas cards

Our cheap Christmas tree that Antonio and I bought our first Christmas married.  It was $25 at Wal-Mart, and it has been a great purchase.  It may be small, but it is just the right size to not take over our house!christmas tree

My boys put this entire tree up themselves and also decorated the entire thing themselves.  I only put on the lights!  THIS is a tradition that I love because I hate putting up the tree!

We eat dinner most nights in our dining room.  You will see that I have little Christmas messages about Peace throughout my home.  This is my subtle attempt at influencing my kids to get along.  So far it doesn’t seem to be working too well, but I continue to hope!

dining room

This frame in my kitchen is one that I change out every holiday or season.  The canvas is not attached to the frame, so I can just switch it out without any fuss.
Kitchen Christmas print

I decided to include this photo because I just LOVE this wreath so much!  I got it last year on clearance after the holidays from Michael’s (it is one of those DIY craft kits).  It works really well with the bright, energetic decorations in my house.  I just love looking at it every morning while I am eating breakfast!

poinsetta wreath on door

As much as I enjoy the Christmas season, after all the busyness and decorative stuff in the house, I also really look forward to putting it all away (not the actual putting away – I hate that part, but after the fact!) and feeling that energy be directed towards new goals and the coming year.

Happy New Year!

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