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Monday, December 8, 2014

CHRISTMAS // TRADITIONS

a typical Christmas morning with my family (note the mustaches from our stockings)

Get excited! It's officially the most wonderful time of the year. December is such a joyful and nostalgic month with some pretty spectacular holidays. It's a fun time to cozify our homes, gather with our friends + family, and celebrate the coming of winter and the passing of another year. After sharing my Thanksgiving traditions, I thought it would be fun to write posts about traditions for every holiday. Here I will share my list of past traditions that I would like to continue to honor and new traditions that I would like to start incorporating into my holiday season. I broke them into sections - Traditions to Start When I Have Bebes, Friend Traditions, and Family Traditions.

advent calendar from the painted hive

TRADITIONS TO START WHEN I HAVE BEBES

1. Advent Calendar: I'm a huge fan of activity-centered advent calendars - in fact, I made an EASY PEASY DIY ADVENT CALENDAR this year for my household. If I have bebes someday, I would really like to try to make an advent calendar each December. It'd be fun to do an activity-based version but I am also loving the children's book advent calendars I've been seeing around for a few years, where your child opens a new story book each night leading up to Christmas. I would probably only choose a FEW holiday-themed books to give to my kids but it would be fun to curate a collection of books you think your kids would love throughout the year.

advent calendar printable tags from simple as that

2. St. Lucia's Day [December 13th]: St. Lucia's Day is a holiday celebrated mostly by Scandinavians and some Italians. It's a day of celebrating the Winter Solstice (which fell on the 13th a few calendars ago) and bringing light and warmth to the dark and cold days. I really hope that I have a daughter someday who will be willing to celebrate her barely Swedish blood and take on the part of St. Lucia every December 13th. She'd get to wear a pretty white gown with red sash, a wreath of (faux) candles and sing songs while bringing coffee & Swedish cinnamon buns to the family for breakfast (just think of Kirsten from the original American Girl dolls).  TOO CUTE. Plus breakfast-in-bed, hello?!

saint lucia and star boy crowns from frontier dreams

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS WITH FRIENDS:

1. Annual Holiday Lights Tour: Last year, some friends & I found a Google map that someone had made of awesome local neighborhood light displays. So we piled into the car, tuned into the Christmas radio station and drove around town, looking at lights. And that was the 1st Annual Holiday Lights Tour. This year, I'm hoping to recreate that night with the same people but the addition of these Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Cookies. YUM. And if that doesn't end up happening because of this or that, I do have definite plans to go see the lights at Stone Mountain with a different group of friends. Either way, I will chalk it up as a successful 2nd Annual Holiday Lights Tour.

stone mountain at christmas
salted caramel hot chocolate cookies from beyond frosting

More Christmas traditions after the jump!

 2. Annual Gingerbread Neighborhood Construction Party: This year I would like to start a new friend tradition by hosting the 1st Annual Gingerbread Neighborhood Construction Party. I'll invite a few creative friends over and we'll build + decorate a neighborhood of gingerbread houses, apartment buildings, churches, and shops. We'll probably play Christmas records and make some party food and adult drinks, too - A FUN but simple get-together.

gingerbread house decorating party from libbie grove design

FAMILY TRADITIONS FOR CHRISTMAS EVE + CHRISTMAS DAY:

CHRISTMAS EVE: Every Christmas Eve my family has an extra special "snack night" of sorts. We make a ton of fun hors d'oeuvres, usually a lot of traditional 1950s party fare like cheese balls, veggies + dip, cocktail wieners, mini sandwiches, spinach dip in a bread bowl, shrimp, Christmas cookies.  We feast and sit around chatting or watching Christmas movies. We always end the night with a reading of the Christmas Bible story and some Christmas Carol Karaoke - my favorite Christmas tradition! It's so fun and can get a little wild sometimes. It's so nice to sing together - I wish we had a piano player in the family + a piano to sing around (this must be an effect of binge-watching Frasier too much).

some christmas eve grub

On Christmas Eve we also celebrate a tradition that supposedly comes from Germany - a pickle ornament is hidden on the Christmas tree and whichever family member finds the pickle ornament gets to open an early present. Many families let the pickle-finder keep the present for themselves but in our family it's usually a board game or puzzle meant for the whole family to enjoy. The finder gets the honor of unwrapping the present and carrying the title until next year. This one could also fall under TRADITIONS TO START WHEN I HAVE BEBES.

christmas pickle from la buena vida

CHRISTMAS DAY: On Christmas morning we wake up early (earlier if the younger kids are there) and grab cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We used to make homemade cinnamon rolls from my Swedish great-grandmother's recipe but lately we've taken to ordering from the Amish bakery in town. YUM. Either way, I'm happy, but it would be nice to start making the homemade ones again. Maybe this year!

swedish cinnamon buns from pink patisserie

After everyone has gathered in the main room, we pass out stockings and everyone digs in. This is when the chaos starts but I love it! It's fun to open your own stocking but it's also nice to see what everyone else finds in theirs so I try to take as long as possible and really savor mine. I will most definitely carry on this tradition with my children someday. Stockings are a fun way to make sure you're getting everyone a little something without having to spend tons of money. I'd like to slowly start knitting one for me + boyfriend in a simple pattern like THIS.

knit stocking pattern from red heart

That's about it for my Christmas traditions, new and old. What are some of YOUR Christmas traditions? Isn't it fun to combine old family traditions with new personal ones?

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