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Fayette-Mom: Searching for holiday traditions

Posted December 6, 2010

Jennifer Joyner

OK folks, I need your help.

I’m looking to establish holiday traditions in our home. We have a few things we do every year. Each child gets to pick out a new ornament for the tree, we make it a point to go out looking at Christmas decorations several times, and we always tune in for our favorite holiday specials on TV. My kids are so excited about all things Christmas, and it’s easy to get caught up in the wonder of the season through their eyes. They’re only little for so long — I want to make sure we make the most of it.

One of the new things for us this year is Elf on the Shelf. He arrives around the time you decorate your home, and he observes the kids’ behavior, flying back each night to give a report to Santa. My kids have had so much fun waking up every morning, trying to find where the Elf has positioned himself for the day. And my daughter writes him notes every night, asking the important questions like “Do you like my new boots?” and “How do you fly so quickly?” The Elf really has made a difference as far as how the children behave, and it’s so fun to watch their excitement.

So, what else can I do? Do you have any favorite holiday traditions for your family? Is there something from your childhood that you’ve brought to your kids’ Christmas experience? Please leave a comment and tell us how you make the holidays memorable!

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in September. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.



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  • mikeysmom Dec 8, 2010

    My mom and I used to make Christmas cookies and Gingerbread houses. Well...actully we used to call them Gingerbread shacks because they looked so bad. But they always tasted good and it always a lot of fun to do. She and I both work full time jobs now so we don't get to bake like we used to. I miss those days. We still laugh at our shacks held up by soup cans until the icing set.
    My daughter is 10 months old and this will be our first Christmas. I look forward to hanging our "Santa Key" with her. I bought it years ago in hopes that one day I would have a child to help me hang it. It's a special key that helps Santa get in on Christmas night if you don't have a chimney.

    Oh...and one more. My husband proposed to me on New's Year's Eve 4 years ago. We spent a quiet night at his place eating ice cream and watched Nanny Mcphee. Every New Year's Eve we spend a quiet evening at home, eating ice cream and watching Nanny Mcphee.

  • kittiboo Dec 7, 2010


    So far I have done the PJs with my daughter and this year will start with the one Xmas Eve gift.

    It is so nice this year because my daughter is finally old enough to understand a lot of what is going on, and is the perfect year to start traditions.

  • kittiboo Dec 7, 2010

    Here's a few that I've done in the past, and am doing now with my daughter:

    We started our advent calendar this year for my almost 3 year old- a big felt tree with a pocket for each day of Dec. We have a tiny gift or piece of candy in each pocket. This year, day 25 will inform our daughter of our trip to Disney (leaving on the plane that night!!).

    I buy my daughter a new snowglobe every year. This is a bit of living vicariously, as I love snowglobes. I want her to have a treasured collection by the time she's an adult. We also get her a few ornaments each year that are hers to take when she is grown.

    This year we put our little fake tree in her room and let her decorate it- it looks so pretty in there! From now on, it will be her tree.

    WHen I was a kid I always got to open 2 presents on Christmas Eve: one was always a nightgown to wear that night, the other was my choice (there were always off-limits gifts to be saved for the morning).


  • cjnall Dec 7, 2010

    My children are 23 and 25 and when they were little we always put out reindeer food in the moonlight before bed on Christmas Eve to entice the reindeer to our house. Reindeer food consists of oats, glitter and love. Another thing we always did was a cake close to Christmas for Jesus' birthday party. Our gifts were telling him all of the things we thanked him for.

  • torresjennifer Dec 7, 2010

    "My mother gives my kids an ornament of their own each year so that when they are adults and move out, they can take their ornaments and have a good start on their own tree." - Killian

    My mother bought each of us a new ornament every year, and labeled it with our name and the year we received it. Now I do the same for my daughter. I love the memories that come with hanging all the ornaments from my childhood! I help my daughter "remember" when she got hers as well.

  • ncmum Dec 7, 2010

    One thing I started a couple of years ago (and am really pleased I did!!) is that I bought each child a plain colored pillow case to use as their Xmas stocking to leave out for Santa. Each year they trace around their hand and then paint it/color it in/design it with fabric paints. We date each hand print so we know which Xmas it was done. It is so fun to see not only their hand grown, but also their artistic talents :)
    (If you decide to try it - make sure you put some paper in the pillow case, or the front and back may stick together from the paint seeping through)

  • RealityAddict Dec 7, 2010

    We moved more than most as kids, we did not always have a mantle or a spare place on the wall for stockings. We always had a couch. Our very early tradition was to place plates on the cushions for santa. Three kids, three cushions, worked out perfect. I remember we were so excited to get our christmas fruit, candy and nuts in our place. My parents never placed toys in our stocking. My brother is 41, I am 40 and my sister is 35. We still talk about our CHRISTMAS PLATES and mom still lays them out.

    The tradition for my kids, were elf boxes. Getting underwear, socks, etc was one thing everyone got the kids when they were smaller, so I asked everyone to decorate the ELF BOX a bit differently, the kids, know what is in their elf boxes so they say thank you and it is the last thing they open. My kids are 20, 18 and 14.

    About 4 years ago when all the kids were old enuf to understand we started volunteering, delivering food for thankgiving and Christmas to shut ins. The kids look forward i

  • grannybam07 Dec 7, 2010

    Making cut-out sugar cookies and decorating them - Mom always let us do our own even though some were loaded with frosting and/or sugar!

    This is one I love but have to admit that it came from a former student. She was one of 4 children in a family that didn't have lots of extra. Each child received 3 gifts. They would get together and decide what they wanted. Each of them would ask for one big item, one item that would go with a sibling's big gift and one gift that would be theirs alone. Having taught all four, I will tell you these were the students you could put with anyone - cooperative, understanding, great! I asked one of them one year why 3 gifts? 'Jesus only received 3 gifts when he was born, why should we get more than that on His birthday?' Needless to say, I was humbled by her response.

  • blahblahblah Dec 7, 2010

    We have two that have carried on even though my kids are grown. Christmas Eve while at church, Santa came to our house and hung a pickle ornament on the tree. The kids spent the evening looking for the pickle. Whoever found it, got an extra present on Christmas morning. The extra gift had a tag that said "To the finder of the Christmas Pickle". It's an old German tradition.

    Christmas Eve we gather around the dining room table where a small gift has been left at each seat. My husband or son reads The Night Before Christmas. Each time the word "and" is said you pass your present to the left. The present you have in front of you at the end of the story is yours to keep. FYI, the word "and" is said about 50 times in the story! Makes for alot of laughs.

  • Killian Dec 7, 2010

    bdcarpenter -- we used to do that too! =) Now that my kids are older, though, they don't outgrow their pjs fast enough, and don't want any more of them! =)