a few favorite holiday traditions we’ve enjoyed so far:
—view all the holiday lights! in addition to putting up our own lights, it’s fun to get out and see all the lights around the neighborhood or in your city! i think the lights at the national zoo in DC are still my favorite.
—read david sedarias’ holidays on ice together. better yet, get the audio recording and listen to him read the essays. so good.
—make a tradition of cooking the same dish or dessert together as an entire family in the kitchen. josh likes to make his famous ginger cookies each year and it’s always fun to be a part of that in the kitchen! we make a triple batch and deliver and share them with friends.
—get and decorate a tree together (and a tiny tree for the kiddos!) a couple years back, eleanor picked out her first christmas tree for the nursery, and we’ve kept up the tradition every year since.
—get together with friends for a dessert party, or ugly sweater party, or some kind of holiday themed party. we’ve enjoyed hosting pie nights or dessert nights in the past with friends. depends on baby’s arrival this year, but we hope to do one again this year! last year, our friends hosted an ugly sweater party and asked friends to bring a talent to share. we made up a little pas de deux to perform. it was a lot of fun! just finding an excuse to get together with good friends and be silly and eat yummy treats is always a good time in my book. the holidays are a perfect excuse to stop putting off hosting and just have a party already!
—wear matching christmas PJ’s for the entire family to sleep in on christmas eve! my mom actually sent our family some fun striped ones last year (you can see them HERE) and i live for these kinds of dorky family moments where we are all matching and coordinated and festive! a special thank you to josh once more for being willing to put those on. ;)
—complete 25 christmas challenges! my mom actually sent us a package several years ago when were newly weds with 25 of her favorite christmas stories as well as 25 christmas challenges. she asked us to read one story and complete one challenge each day. i share the list HERE if you’d like to join in and participate this year. it is a great way to get into the holiday spirit and serve.
—learn a holiday song or tune together and go caroling! since E and S are small, we spend a lot of time listening to all the christmas classics when we’re at home and learning the staples, like rudolph the red nosed reindeer or jingle bells! this year we hope to go caroling (maybe just to our neighbors in our apartment building) and bring along all their tiny pretend instruments so we can rock out while performing.
—make a little christmas film! i still never know what i’m doing when we’re making little family videos together, but we always have so much fun creating them! we’ve made a few around the holidays together. you can see our first one we made decorating our tree in our tiny harlem studio apartment HERE and last year’s with the kiddos HERE.
—decorate gingerbread houses! we actually kickstarted the holidays last week making these with friends!
—serve together. i’m not quite sure how to implement this one with our little ones just yet (if you have any ideas, please share!) but serving together in a soup kitchen or shelter is a wonderful way to spend time during the holidays (and throughout the year, frankly.) we recently helped serve breakfast at the meatloaf kitchen here in nyc with a few readers (thank you again for coming!) and hope to do it more often with many of you! nothing beats the way you feel serving others. i think i got more out of that morning than i gave back.
—enjoy the weather! if there is snow, get outside ASAP and build a snowman! we have tried to do this every year there has been snow! it’s just too fun.
—help support a good cause. we like to choose a charity to give to as a family. last year was extra meaningful since our kids (eleanor at least) were able to be a part of that process by helping pick out animals from the heifer international catalog to donate. (for example, giving the gift of sheep or chickens helps a family in need help themselves.)
—watch a special christmas movie. just like home alone was part of my family’s movie tradition growing up, we’ve been enjoying how the grinch stole christmas and it’s a wonderful life at our home for the past 7 years together (although i might be the only person on this earth who doesn’t totally love sitting down and watching it’s a wonderful life every single year. a great movie, of course, but you know….)
—enjoy a nativity viewing or christmas devotional. our church puts on a special christmas program each year, and it’s always a really beautiful evening of music and a devotional that can’t be beat.
—see the nutcracker! even after over a decade of performing in it, i don’t get sick of it. and josh has been a great sport of going with me almost every year to see it! i took eleanor to see the radio city christmas spectacular last year and this year we saw it again with josh and samson. that show is also a really great one if you’re here in the city. you can’t beat the rockettes doing their classic toy soldier number. you just can’t!
—visit santa claus (with or without kids!) even before the little ones came along, we haven’t missed a year of visiting santa together dating back to our days of dating in the city… cause you’re never too old to sit on santa’s lap, right? (also, cause i just think they photos are the cutest, see eleanor’s first visit HERE and samson’s first HERE.)
i would love to hear some of the traditions you loved around the holiday season growing up! or some of the traditions you and your own children have begun! i’d love to add more to our list for the coming years….
is it too early to say… happy holidays and merry christmas?!?!?!?!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!
photo by katherine and luke from last christmas eve. see the rest of the images HERE, if you’d like.