Family Christmas traditions are so interesting. I didn’t really think about it until I was married and had children of my own. Growing up my family celebrated Christmas, in the same way, every year, there were small traditions and larger ones but that’s just the way it was done! When I got married, however, it soon became apparent that my husband had grown up with different traditions and thoughts about the holidays.
We had to learn how to blend our family traditions and once we had kids we found ourselves creating our own little way of doing things. When our children grow older and start their own families they too will have to go through the process of blending and evolving the holiday norm into something new. The thought of that is pretty amazing and I thought exploring our families traditions in more detail might make for a fun post! Of course, we have already talked about out Christmas Family Movie Nights so I will leave that one out of this list.
Family Christmas Traditions, Making the Holidays Special
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The Christmas Tree
Probably one of the largest differences between my husband and I’s family Christmas traditions was the Christmas tree. Growing up my family and I always had a fake tree. I never really thought much about a real tree. The Christmas tree was something that came out of a box. It was a pole with a bunch of numbered branches that my father pulled out of the attic and put together every year.
This was not so for my husbands family. In his family, it was a real tree or no tree. The concept of going out to a lot and picking my Christmas tree was somewhat foreign but exciting. Since this was a very important tradition for my husband I was willing to concede on this point.
Every year we take the kids out to a Christmas tree lot and let them help pick out our tree. It’s a fun process though I admit a fake tree would be far less messy and far more cost effective.
Decorating the Tree
In my family, there were fairly clear-cut roles when it came to decorating the Christmas tree. My father would put the tree together and handle the lights both inside and out. My mother and us kids were in charge of the ornaments and any other household decorations.
In my husbands family, all the decorating with the exception of outside lights and putting the star on top of the tree was the mom’s job. My husband still handles any of the outside lights but I have taken over putting the lights on the tree and hanging them in any indoor windows.
I don’t mind this because even though I hate putting lights on the Christmas Tree (hello arm scratches!) It means I get to pick which lights we get. This means I could change the theme and color of the tree on a whim although it typically remained mostly White/blue/silver.
Once the kids were old enough to help decorate the tree I had to concede a bit on my color scheme. Rainbow lights now make an appearance and other colors/homemade ornaments from school have intruded on my carefully constructed tree. I don’t mind so much because they have fun helping an I do love the ornaments they make me at school! My husband also lost the job of putting on the star. Now the kids take turns, one gets to put on the candy canes, the other gets to put on the star.
Added Bonus – I found a way to enjoy putting the lights on
Every year I fight with the Christmas lights. Putting them on a real Christmas tree leaves you with scratches and sometimes sap on you. I quickly learned to wear old long sleeved shirts for this. I also found that arranging them so that they didn’t look like literal strings wrapped around the tree was a bit of a challenge!
The trick? It seems to be varying up the way the strings are put on. Some strings are wrapped around horizontally, some go up and down vertically. Some strings are woven on in a zig-zag pattern. Overall it seems to break up the look a little bit. Of course, you can also get this effect by just adding a LOT of lights. Which is also a good direction to take. Christmas trees can never have too many lights!
But this gives you another problem!
Of course the more light strings you add the more wires you have to deal with and that can be a real pain. Because of the way our tree is set up relative to the outlets and the fact that some of our light strings do not have connectors at the end I always wound up with a huge mess of wires at the end.
They were unsightly and when presents got added they inevitably got tangled and pulled out. It was an annoying problem to have every single year! This year, however, I was given a set of cable management sleeves from BlueKeyWorld. You might remember them as the same company which let me try out the cable clips from our Creating a comfortable Workspace post!
These things are amazing. Each set comes with four sleeves and they are the perfect size for wrangling my Christmas Tree lights into order. If you have a lot of lights you can even zip two of them together to make an extra large sleeve! Since all my wires are now gathered neatly together and protected from tangling the back of the tree not long looks nicer but I doubt I will have to worry about any light strings being unplugged on accident too.
Elf on a Shelf
This particular family Christmas tradition seems to be a bit controversial. Families either hate the idea and find the elf creepy or love it and find it cute. I find the elf itself fairly cute but I can see why some parents might find it a chore. If you look on Pinterest or social media it seems like some everyone spends a great deal of time creating elaborate scenes for the elf.
I keep it simple to save my sanity. Holly the elf doesn’t get any special clothing, and she just moves from one spot to another from December 1st until Christmas Eve when she goes home with Santa. My husband was already grown by the time Elf on a shelf became a thing so his family missed out on this tradition but as I had a brother much younger than I was, I got to participate for a few years.
It was a lot of fun waking up every morning and searching for the elf’s new location. I was happy to add it to our family Christmas tradition so that my kids could enjoy this morning fun too.
When We Open Presents
In my husbands family, they opened presents on Christmas Eve. Santa filled stockings and brought presents for Christmas morning. In my family, Christmas morning was the big day for everything. To me, opening presents the night before seemed like it took away part of the Christmas morning magic.
Since this was important to me my husband gave up this one. We open family presents on Christmas morning. However, since we go to his grandparents the night before and open presents with the extended family, I suppose we technically do both!
A possible New tradition? The – Ugly Sweater 5k
Last year my husband ran a local ugly sweater 5k and my youngest did the 1-mile fun run. My oldest daughter is not entirely sold on the whole running idea so I stayed at the finish line with her to cheer them on. We all bought and dressed up in ugly sweaters though and it was a lot of fun!
This year my youngest wanted to do it again. They both signed up. Since we have only been a part of the running community for a little over a year this tradition is still establishing itself. After two years in a row, it seems well on its way!
Remember those cable organizer sleeves I told you about earlier? Well, the great people at BlueKeyWorld have provided me with an extra set to give away to all of you! The set contains 4 cable sleeve organizers – which should be perfect for wrangling those Christmas lights into line!
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What are some of your Family Christmas Traditions?
Such great traditions. I love how you and your husband find a balance between all those old traditions and have been making new ones as well. I am in the camp that hates elf on the shelf and will never let that thing in my house – luckily the boy also finds it creepy.
finding a way to blend our traditions was a bit hit or miss for the first couple years but I think we’ve got it down now haha. I find it funny how polarizing the elf on the self-thing can be haha.
My favorite is making cookies, watching Christmas movies, and letting the kids open one present on Christmas Eve.
My husband is terrible at keeping secrets when he gets someone a gift he can’t stand having to wait to give it to them. This often lead to the kids being able to weasel one of their presents from him on Christmas eve too haha
It’s so lovely to read about other’s Christmas traditions! It’s nice that you both have compromised so that you keep special traditions alive. The only tradition my family have is ‘Early Christmas’ where we all get together a few days before the day, do a Secret Santa and play games as we all can’t be together on the actual day. It’s great as we get two Christmases and two roast dinners, yay!! Thank you for sharing and hope you are having a great festive season <3 xx
Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com
That sounds like a great Christmas tradition to me! I love secret Santa’s.
It’s so interesting learning the different family traditions for Christmas! I remember friends at school used to open presents on Christmas eve too, but I can’t imagine doing that. It was always so exciting waking up on Christmas day, we used to sit down in front of the tree in the living room and open our presents together. I’ve heard a few things that my boyfriends family do for Christmas so we’ll have to see how things work out when we properly live together!
Exactly! There’s something magical about waiting for Christmas day to me!
Your Christmas sounds a lot of fun. I’ve never got the elf on the shelf, being too old to experience it myself and not having kids it isn’t something I really get. My mum never had a ‘nice’ tree when we were young, it was all multicoloured and lopsided but I think that’s what makes it a little special when children are around.
I loved my themed nice trees but I agree, there’s something extra sweet about the kid decorated ones.
WOW! I love your Christmas tree, it looks absolutely amazing and so festive! I love decorating Christmas trees! x
It’s so interesting to read what traditions people have! I’ve never really given it much thought before. I don’t think we have that many in my family, we always go to get a real tree though and we always go with my mum’s best friend to pick our family trees together x
Sounds like you have a few treasured traditions in your family too! Sometimes the best traditions are the ones that are so ingrained in our lives that they just seem normal until you look at them compared to the way others do things!
Thank you for sharing
This was so lovely to read. I used to love going to pick a tree when I was younger, so I’m glad that’s something you get to experience as a family! Recently, I’ve been seeing more and more people mentioning opening presents on Christmas Eve, but that’s always been saved for Christmas Day for me, too!
Picking out the tree is a really fun tradition, I’m really glad we decided to incorporate it without family. I don’t know if I could ever reconcile with opening presents on Christmas eve, it just seems like it would make Christmas day less special for some reason.