Readers’ Favorite Holiday Traditions

The season of trimming trees, lighting menorahs, and singing Christmas carols is upon us. But it’s also a time when families come together to carry out their own unique traditions. We asked Baby Gizmo readers to share their favorite holiday traditions with us, and we are sharing some of our favorites with you! Perhaps they’ll inspire you to start a new tradition in your own family!

traditions

 

Every year on Christmas Eve, my family and I drive around to see the Christmas lights in our neighborhood. We’ve been doing it since I was little, and now my son comes along too. —Christine Yannantuono, Staten Island, NY (JJ, 3)

 When my siblings and I were growing up, my dad read us The Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve before we went to bed. He still does it! My daughter joined in the tradition last year, and it’s something we will continue to do! —Megan Guinnup, Vilseck, Germany (Ainsley, 1)

We always watch the movie “Elf” while we put up the Christmas tree. We keep all the holiday movies packed away until that night, so it opens the door for all of the fun Christmas films that we love watching. —Shelene Waters, St. Louis, MO (Sophia, 6)

We do a huge cookie-baking weekend involving both my in-laws and my side of the family. All of the kids roll out the dough and mix the ingredients. Each child gets a job of decorating the cookies or mixing the dough. Then we make struffoli (Italian honey balls), which is an all-family process from dough making, to putting the dough through the machine, to cutting and twisting the dough, to finally frying it (older kids only for this part). We do all of this with holiday music in the background, followed by a manmade snowstorm that we create on top of my father-in-law’s Dickens Village train set that he builds every year. —Danielle Bocchino, Brooklyn, NY (Sienna, 5, and Nico, 3)

My kids are grown now, but when they were little, every Christmas Eve I would have them help me bake a cake and they decorated it. On Christmas Day we all sang “Happy Birthday to Jesus.” I will start that tradition with my grandchildren this year. —Patricia Holmes, Lakeland, FL

When Chanukah and Christmas overlapped a couple of times for my Jewish/Catholic family, my mother-in-law had a cute little Nativity Scene set up. After my Catholic in-laws and nephews lit the menorah with me, they set up the Nativity Scene’s shepherd in front of the candle as though staring, awestruck. —Matt Friedman, NJ (Lilly, 11, and Aaron, 3)

Once a week, on either Thursday or Friday, we watch a movie from ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas” lineup and have hot cocoa and popcorn. We also like to help decorate my husband’s Army unit’s Christmas tree. This year we plan to visit a Korean orphanage and spread some holiday joy. —Sue Sapp, Dongducheon, South Korea (Billy, 3)

St. Nick Day is December 6. On December 5—St. Nick Night—we each leave a pair of shoes outside our bedroom door with the hopes of receiving treats in them the next morning—and not coal! —Krystin Salazar, Davenport, IA (Aiden, 6, Molly, 2, and Will, 7 months)

Like many military families, we will probably never be at our own home for Christmas, but on the east coast with our parents. Rather than tackle the “How will Santa find us?” question, I am going to make a “magic Santa blanket” to give to our son this year on his first Christmas. As long as he has the blanket with him, Santa can find him. Hopefully he can snuggle with it every year while watching Christmas movies at our house and then drag it across the country when we travel to spend Christmas with the grandparents. We also have the Christmas pickle! It’s an ornament my mom hangs on the tree on Christmas morning before we all wake up. The first to find it gets to open the first present. —Mary Catherine Anderson, Dallas, TX (Jeb, 2 months)

My sister, brother, and I would sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve when we were kids. Her three kids now do the sleepover on Christmas Eve, and my husband and I hope to do that with ours if we have more kids! —Amanda Evey, Torrance, CA (Isaac, 2)

For Chanukah, my parents would get my brother and me eight gifts each and have them wrapped in the basement. Every night of Chanukah we would go downstairs and pick which present we would open. As we got older and presents got more expensive, my dad would wrap gag gifts—like white bread—to keep with the tradition of eight gifts! We also make potato latkes from scratch every year, peeling and frying pounds of potatoes and onions, which makes the house smell for days. —Jill Glass, Lynbrook, NY (Ryan, 2 months)

In my family, we’d open one present on Christmas Eve, and it woud be a pair of special pajamas to wear to bed that night. It was great for pictures, and I’m totally doing that with my son from now on! —Julie Ridgley, Lincoln, NE (Leo, 2)

Our kids love finding where the Elf on the Shelf is every morning! We also bake my grandma’s Swedish meatballs and coffee bread every year. —Emily Coleman, Colorado Springs, CO (Megan, 7, Lena, 4, and Erik, 3)

We buy a Christmas ornament from every place we visit as a family. It’s so much fun when it’s time to decorate the tree and the kids can remember all of the places we’ve been! —Jennifer Gilliam, Stuttgart, Germany (Emma, 13, and Blake, 10)

Since we’re from New Mexico, we do the lighting of farolitos (small paper lanterns) outside on Christmas Eve. We eat traditional New Mexican Christmas foods such as tamales and empanadas. We all go to Christmas Eve mass. We then head home for some hot apple cider and hot cocoa and watch some classics on TV. On Christmas morning we ring a bell for the girls to come down to see what Santa has left them. Nobody has access to the presents until the bell has rung! Silly, I know, but it actually gives us some time to do some “prettying up” of the presents. My dad used to do this for my sister and me, and I still do this for my girls! —Victoria Garcia, Macomb, MI (Gabriella, 15, Isabella, 11, and Daniella, 8)

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition with your own family? Please share it here! Happy holidays!

 

 

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Jennifer Marino Walters is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in All You, Fit Pregnancy, Parenting, and several other magazines and websites. She’s the mom of adorable twin boys and the wife of a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel. Though she and her family recently moved from the mountains of Colorado to the beaches of Southern California, Jennifer—a New York City native—is a city girl at heart. She writes about her adventures raising twins while navigating the military lifestyle on her blog, www.doubledutytwins.com

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