We ruffled a few feathers this year by not going to my parents for Christmas day.  It’s a big step, but Miss O is 3 (almost 4) and is now able to get into the spirit of the season.  She’s also young enough that if something doesn’t work we’re not stuck with it for 20 years.

Instead of traveling for Christmas, we're staying home and creating (or carrying on) some traditions of our own.

Christmas at my house growing up was magical.  We didn’t do elaborate crafts or go to lots of parties – it was just a feeling of excitement that surrounded everything and everyone, and it all came together on Christmas.  Now it’s my turn to create that magic for my daughter and I think I’m more excited to do that than I was about Christmas as a kid!

This being my first Christmas with just my little family, I want to fill our day with fun, magical activities that we can look forward to all year, but that don’t require massive amounts of prep work.  (I want to enjoy the season, too.)


Christmas bonfire and carol sing.  For the first time ever we’re having a Christmas party this year.  I wanted to do something different so I turned to (of course) Pinterest.  I found the picture above on Country Living and was inspired.  I’m not big on skating (I broke my wrist skating as a teenager), but I LOVE to sing, especially with other people, so I am super excited about singing carols with my friends and family.  To make it truly in the spirit of giving, we’re asking guests to bring food or money to donate to the local food pantry. If you want to throw your own Bonfire & Carol Sing, it’s easy and fun!


Advent calendar.  I’m a little late getting started, but I am really looking forward to this traditional holiday treat.  I don’t like to fill our Advent Calendar with candy – there are enough sweets from October through December to create a cavity the size of the Grand Canyon (not an actual scientific fact) – so I’ve found a few things Miss O likes that don’t involve a sugar rush.

Give a little, get a little.  I really like the idea of having Miss O fill up a bag of old toys to leave for Santa, posted by Julie at the Happy Home Fairy.  It helps her clear out old toys and get into the spirit of giving.  What could be better?  We leave a bag of old toys for Santa to take and give to boys and girls who need them.

Sister-in-law’s Christmas Eve party.  I’ve been to this party once, the year I was pregnant and my doctor didn’t want me traveling, so I’m looking forward to going again this year.  It’s a big open house with lots of people – which also scares the hell out of me – and what better way than a party to ring in the holiday?


Santa decorates the tree.  Mr. O’s family has a very cool tradition of putting up the tree on Christmas Eve and letting Santa decorate the tree so the first time the kids see the decorated tree is on Christmas morning.  We’re going to modify it a little and put up the tree with lights (and probably garland) in mid-December, then let Santa do the rest on Christmas Eve.  There is nothing like a lit tree to get me in the spirit so I think our little tweak will be perfect.

hot chocolate

Hot Cocoa from the slow cooker.  Oh my gosh, this is a family favorite on snow days and it will be a great addition to Christmas morning.  I’ll set the slow cooker on timer and have it ready when we get up (if Miss O lets us sleep).  It’s rich, and delicious, and warms you from the inside out.  A great way to start the day.  If you’re having people over, make a big batch for everyone to enjoy!

Breakfast Casserole.  On a typical day, even a weekend, I just don’t have time to put together a big breakfast.  We’re cereal and frozen waffle people.  So on Christmas I like to make something yummy we can all enjoy.  If I’m looking for something savory I’ll go with a meat-egg-and cheese casserole.  If we’re feeling sweet, like Mr. O always is, I’ll make my Strawberry Cheesecake Cassrole.

Change it up.  When I was a kid one of my favorite things was our tradition of opening our stockings on my parents’ bed before heading downstairs to open the rest of the gifts.  Of course, the added benefit for my parents was that they got to stay in bed a little longer.  That would be tough for us because of our dog situation (I’ll share another time), but there’s no reason we can’t still have a movable Christmas.  We have 2 trees – 1 in the front window and 1 in the living room – so we can do stockings in 1 room and presents in another.

The best thing about our first Christmas at home is that no matter what we do, we’ll be spending the day together.  What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

Instead of traveling for Christmas, we're staying home and creating (or carrying on) some traditions of our own.