20 Holiday Traditions to Try Out This Year

woman standing among christmas trees with her bernese mountain dog


December is here, which means that for many, it’s time for all of our special holiday traditions. Michael and I are both very much into tradition and have loved creating our own together over the course of our marriage.

Today I wanted to share some of our favorite traditions we look forward to this time of year, as well as some others from yall that I think are SO worth adopting!

Getting the Christmas Tree // I am admittedly one of those people who can’t break out the Christmas decor or music until Thanksgiving has past, so our tradition is to go the Friday after turkey day for our tree! I’ve kind of always wanted to cut one down, too, so maybe we’ll do that some year!?

Chocolate chip pancakes // Not 100% sure where this one came from but it’s become tradition for me to make chocolate chip pancakes on Thanksgiving and Christmas morning. Yum!

Looking at Christmas lights // On our second or third date, Michael and I went and looked at Christmas lights at a big park in town and it’s been a staple in our December traditions ever since. I LOVE Christmas lights, so I really look forward to doing this every year. It always includes hot chocolate and snacks for the car ride.

Decorate a gingerbread house // Whether you buy a kit or bake your own, decorating a gingerbread house (or better yet, having a contest) can be a super fun past-time while watching your favorite Christmas movie one night!

Watch Christmas movies // I hope this is on everyone’s list already. What I really want to know is what is your favorite Christmas movie!? Each of our family’s have their own list of movies we grew up watching and now we’re figuring out what OUR favorites are together! My personal favorite has to be White Christmas.

Adopt a family in need // We’ve participated in doing this sort of thing a few times and it’s so amazing to love on and surprise a family with things they’d never be able to do for themselves or for their kids.

White Elephant or Secret Santa // We’ve all done a million of these, but they never get old! It’s super fun to participate with your friends or family members in a gift exchange and depending on the personalities of your group, you never know what you might get! I’m participating in 3 so far this December!

Opening one gift on Christmas Eve // This is a fun one, especially for little kids. I remember my sister and I doing this and it was always really exciting to try and pick out what gift we wanted to open that night.

Go to a holiday show of some sort // Fun fact: my best friend (turned sister-in-law) and I went to see the Radio City Rockettes perform in St. Louis years ago, for what we now affectionately call our “first date”. Some other great shows would be The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, Charlie Brown Christmas and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Cookie exchange // My mother-in-law’s family has done a cookie exchange for several years now and it’s always really fun to bring your own cookies and then take a bunch home, too. Especially fun to do with the ladies of your family or best girlfriends!

Elf on the shelf // I have heard very mixed reviews from parents on this little guy, but to each their own. Nevertheless, it came up many times in this conversation, so I felt like I had to include him here!

“Santa” gifts unwrapped on Christmas morning // As soon as my sister and I made it downstairs on Christmas morning, our gifts from Santa would be set up and/or already assembled.. It was a fun and overwhelming moment to take that display in! I will always be a firm believer that Santa doesn’t wrap gifts… 😉

Christmas books for kids during Advent // Have or wrap 25 books that are all Christmas/holiday themed for kiddos to open/unwrap each day during advent. Since having kids, we’ve adopted having a holiday book basket. It’s so much fun for all of us.

Special bottle of wine // Our first married Christmas, Michael started this tradition where he gives me a bottle of nice wine each year. We open it on Christmas day and will drink it throughout the coming year together for special occasions.

Have (or attend) an ugly Christmas sweater party // I think this is a really fun idea to mix up all the traditional holiday parties we attend each year. What better way to have a laugh and take some of the pressure off of a fancy party than by having everyone come dressed in something ridiculous? Sounds like a blast!

Go for a carriage ride // I think horse drawn carriages are just about the dreamiest thing ever. Mix in a little snow, big blankets and Christmas lights and you’ve got a perfectly romantic date night!

Reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve // We do this at our house each night as we get into bed on Christmas Eve. Right now it’s just the two of us but I look forward to continuing on the tradition and reading this very special story, and the true meaning of Christmas, to our kids one day. 🙂

Taking a Christmas photo // Some people like to get dressed in coordinating outfits, some may dress up their pets, and some may take pics with their Christmas trees. Whatever is it, we all love to commemorate this time of year with a great family pic!

Acts of kindness Advent calendar // I’ve seen a ton of these on Pinterest over the years and there are so many clever ideas of how to organize your calendar (I’ve pinned a few of my favorites here…) The idea is to do one kind thing or an act of service every day during Advent. So cool!

Listening to Christmas music // The day after Thanksgiving, you will find me listening to Christmas music almost exclusively! It’s definitely a requirement when we’re driving around looking at Christmas lights and decorating the tree, too.

Check this out for more tips for planning and prepping for the holidays.

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