I’m excited to welcome Mariel from ’Or so she says…‘. You may not know this, but Mariel and I met way back in high school. We had some super fun times and it was so fun to reconnect with her in blogland. Love her and love her site which is full of great ideas and the best gift guide you can find online. Check it out after you read her post!
Traditions!! Love them. Love The Crafting Chicks too. SOOO, I’m super excited to be here today sharing some of my family’s Christmas traditions with you. Oh by the way, I’m Mariel from ‘Or so she says…‘. Nice to meet you! On my blog, you’ll find ideas of every sort, every single day, centered around motherhood, family, and being your best self. When I was newly-married, my husband and I spent every Christmas Eve and Christmas traveling back and forth from one parent’s house to the other. It’s so great to be with family on the holidays, but eventually we had our first baby, then our second, third, ….okay, we have six now. There came a point where it all became too much, trying to see everyone in every family, make visitation times ‘equal’, and dealing with grumpy kids who were anxious to get back home. So, we made a plan. Best thing we’ve ever done. Obviously, this plan won’t work for everyone, but this is what we came up with… Christmas Eve, we stay home. Despite the get-togethers and parties going on in both of our families on Christmas Eve, we politely decline. It kinda sucks to miss out on them, but what we have going on in our own home is extremely special and so worth staying home for. Come Christmas, we invite my in-laws to join us for breakfast and present-opening. So, we get to stay home all of Christmas morning! Then for Christmas dinner we pack up and head out to my parent’s house. I love our set-up! We get to spend time with those we love on both sides, but we have also reserved one of the days just for us. So, what’s so special about our Christmas Eve?? I’ll tell you… Christmas Eve Dinner We have the same dinner every Christmas Eve. The kids LOVE homemade potato soup with cheese and bacon on top, with breadsticks. I only make it on Christmas Eve, so the meal alone is enough to have them looking forward to the special day. We bust out our super cute reindeer plates that I got from Pottery Barn, years back, and red bowls. They are always anxious to pick which reindeer they want… Dasher, Rudolph, Vixen… Dinner is even better done by candlelight! I pick up those plastic wine goblets to serve sparkling cider. All the while, we are listening to some great Christmas music. While sitting around the table, everyone shares a favorite Christmas memory. I also set out some fun treats/snacks for everyone to munch on throughout the night.
Here’s the potato soup recipe, if you’re interested… I usually double it so we can have leftovers.
6 medium potatoes 5 TBS. butter 5 TBS. flour 1 tsp. salt 3 cups chicken broth 3 cups milk 2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules (optional) Grated cheese Crumbled bacon Directions: Bake potatoes in oven at 350 degrees for one hour. Remove and let cool slightly. Melt butter in large pot. Stir in flour and salt and let cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth and milk, stirring with whisk. Let cook until thickened, stirring often. Cut potatoes in half, length-wise. With spoon, scoop out potatoes and add to soup. Ladle into individual bowls and top with grated cheese and bacon. The Christmas Story After dinner, we gather in the family room where my husband reads the kids the Christmas Story… Games What’s Christmas Eve without games?? Because I still have really little ones, these games are super simple, but the whole family has fun with them. These are are staples… Blow Out the Candle Set a stool in the middle of the room with a lit candle on it (don’t burn your house down, please.) We just put a votive candle, on top of a plate. Blindfold one person, spin them around, and they get ONE blow to try and blow the flame out. The kids thought this was SO hilarious to see people blowing in the complete wrong direction. The first person to blow out the flame, wins. Santa Says Just like “Simon Says”…but, Santa Says. Add some clever Christmas commands in there like “Say Ho, Ho, Ho”, shake your belly like Santa, sing “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”, pretend to wrap a present, melt like a snowman, etc. Obviously, they are out if they do the command without you saying “Santa Says” before it. Twas the Night Before Christmas We picked up this classic book on Amazon, Twas the Night Before Christsmas. Everyone sits in a circle and one wrapped prize is given to someone to hold. I read the story out loud and every time I say the word, “and”…the prize is passed to the next person in the circle. It gets a little crazy, because sometimes there are a bunch of “and” words in a row! But, it’s really fun! Whoever ends up with the prize at the end of the game, gets to open it. Christmas Stocking Fill a stocking with a variety of different candies. Have everyone take turns putting their hand in, feeling the different items. Whoever can guess what candy they are feeling gets to keep it, if they are right! Make sure to buy different sizes and shapes (suckers, Kit Kat, Snickers, pack of gum, Ring Pop, Pop Rocks, etc.) Christmas Eve ~ Sharing the Love & Sibling Gift Exchange First of all, as of November 1st, through the end of the year…my kids get no allowance for themselves. Half of their money goes to buying gifts for a child in need. The other half of their money goes to buying small gifts for their siblings. So, that’s leading into what we do next…. We gather around the Christmas tree, where all of the kids have their presents for each other, wrapped and ready. We start with the oldest kid and everyone in the family has to take turns saying nice things about them. When everyone has had their turn, they give that sibling the gift from them. Then, it goes right on down the line…kind words…presents… I really LOVE this part because not only are they saying kind, loving things to each other but they get really excited about these small ($10 dollar) gifts that they are given. The gifts don’t get overlooked in the excitement and seem insignificant, like they might had they been opened on Christmas morning. It really is a super special family moment when we do this. As a mom, it’s my favorite part!! Sleeping/Movie in Same Room After some last minute snacks, making a plate for Santa, we let them pull some sleeping bags in the same room and they sleep there, all crammed together, for the night. This is a tradition continued from my husband’s family. We turn on a Christmas movie for them (love The Polar Express!), shut the door, and tell them they will basically be kicked out of the family if they tried to come out. While they are all nestled in their beds, watching a Christmas movie, we prepare for the next morning. Christmas Morning Like I mentioned earlier, the in-laws come over and we open presents together. We gather in the kitchen for breakfast, afterwards. A few of our favorite menu items:
After lots of relaxation, playing with toys, and cleaning up, we head out to my parent’s for dinner. After that, we call it a day! A very, very good day, both on Christmas Eve AND Christmas. Our most favorite time of the year! Hope that gives you some Christmas traditions ideas and encourages you to stay home, you’ll love it. P.S. There are lots more ideas where these came from! I would love for you to stop by ‘Or so she says…’ and spend some time checking out the hundreds and hundreds of great ideas. See you there!Pin It