our favorite holiday traditions!

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growing up, my house was filled with family traditions throughout the year. everything from eskimo and butterfly kisses after family prayers each night to making homemade pasta together every first sunday of the month.  but nothing can really compare to the traditions we shared together around the holidays.  i think it’s partly why i love this time of year so much… because of the childhood memories my family made and cultivated every year as i grew up with my four younger siblings.  there were a few christmas seasons in there where my family didn’t have a lot financially, and i’m sure my parents felt that extra pressure consumerism tends to put on everyone during the holiday season in particular,  but all the experiences and traditions and love we shared within my family always trumped anything under a christmas tree. i’m really thankful for the emphasis my parents placed on the season, and the memories that make this time of year an extra special one for me.

a few of my favorite holiday traditions my family shared growing up range from simpler things like watching home alone together on thanksgiving after napping off our turkey dinner in the late afternoon, to listening to the trans-siberian orchestra’s christmas album (their rendition of the nutcracker suite in particular) while decorating our house for the holidays…it always guaranteed a crazy dance party in the living room! there were also things like how my mom would always make an ice cream roll cake on christmas eve and we’d sing happy birthday to baby Jesus. i know that one weirds some people out (my husband included) but it was a fun family tradition and we meant it with the most respect.

the nutcracker ballet was also a huge part of my family’s holiday traditions throughout the years since my sister and i performed in it every single year since we were little girls up until we both moved to new york city to continue on to professional dancing tracks (there were a few years actually where all four of us sisters were dancing in it!)  i will probably have the nutcracker choreography engrained into my mind permanently for the rest of my life, and will never forget the countless hours around the holidays we spent rehearsing and performing. there was always such anticipation and excitement built up around that time in our home since our entire family was involved.  i really owe it to my parents for all the hours they’d spend driving us to and from rehearsals, sitting at the rehearsals, and then all the performances they had to endure. i think my mom will be sick of the nutcracker for the rest of her life. ;)

i don’t think my dad intended for this to become tradition, but one year when i was a teenager, my sisters and i were realizing we didn’t have christmas gifts for everyone in our family just yet (my mom in particular — she is really hard to shop for), and it was already the sunday before christmas. since christmas eve was on a monday that year, my dad loaded all us kids into the car that evening (sunday night) around 11pm and we drove down to wal-mart and sat in the parking lot together blasting christmas music and talking until the clock hit midnight! once it was midnight and technically no longer sunday (we try not to shop on the sabbath), we raced into wal-mart and everyone split up to try to grab last minute christmas gifts for each other while trying not to see each other in the store! it was so much fun! and a fun tradition for us kids to keep up with our dad every sunday night the week before christmas to shop at 12AM monday morning together for last minute gifts.

those are just a few of the fun traditions that have stuck with me from my childhood and teenage years.  it will be fun over the next several years to see what traditions we are able to create and cultivate with eleanor and samson and this new little baby on the way.  we’ve tried out a few the last few years, and hope to add more with time.

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?!?!?!?!


photo by katherine and luke from last christmas eve.  see the rest of the images HERE, if you’d like.

  1. Natali

    Visiting Santa, watch the Nutcracker, get and decorate tree together and help support a good cause is all what me and my little family do every year too! I love this time of the year, it’s just so magical and I always feel so special, every single year. :)


  2. Sandy

    Thanks for sharing. I just love your mama’s list and will introduce it into my family. Definitely put me in the holiday spirit!

  3. Dearest Naomi, first of all its never too early to start talking about Christmas, I love it so! Second of all I’d like to say that I have been going through your archives these past days and it is such an inspiration to me. I am having a tough time lately as I am just out of college and feel a tiny bit (okay more than a tiny bit) lost. For some reason those posts are such a comfort (yes I went back all the way to 2007 and I’m working my way up, I have just arrived in May 2010!). I love how you write about family and about love and working hard on a relationship, I feel like I lost track of that and I’ve promised myself to do whatever I can to be a better sister, daughter, girlfriend and friend. So thank you from the bottom of my heart, for sharing and being so open and genuine. I know its silly but I feel so much warmth and love for your family just from reading and keeping up with you guys. I hope I’ll get to be a mamma like you one day.


  4. love this. in all the years i’ve been reading your blog, your christmastime posts are always my favorite. so glad the season is (almost) here— we put our tree up saturday, ha!

  5. Emily

    It’s never to early for Christmas things!! Yes to matching pajamas, always. I still need to see the nutcracker. Is that ice skating rink in my worth all the hype? You know, the outdoor one that’s in all the Christmas comedies and romance movies? Pretty sure it’s in elf and looks wonderful.

  6. hanna

    Your traditions are all so cute. I miss your blonde hair! –Hanna Lei

  7. Allegra

    Love this list!! Lots of inspiration for starting my own traditions. And definitely not to soon to start saying Happy Holidays! It is the most wonderful time of year after all :)

  8. Abby

    No kids yet, but we love putting up a little tabletop tree and decorating it to enjoy before heading to parents’ homes for the holidays. A theater in our city also puts on A Christmas Carol every year, and last year we went for the first time. It was so magical I convinced my husband to go again this year! Must be a new tradition starting…

  9. vicky

    i love this post. just anything involving christmas makes me so happy. your traditions are so sweet. i understand the serving maybe more than anything. i met my husband at church (of course it was more like youth, we were 15) and we’ve been best friends ever since, serving at the same church for over 8 years. i definitely agree that you get more out of it than you could ever feel giving. i’m glad you said that because it’s such a season of giving. i really love that other people get that magical feeling looking back on some sort of service. i know it may be a little hard while doing it but when you’re done and you look back, it’s something words just can’t explain ;)

    i wish i could seriously just go down this list and say how much i love each tradition.. but i love them all! even watching the same movies every year. i love The Santa Clause – but the Home Alone’s are definitely up there with favorites!

    i love your family traditions. i think back to ones with my parents and my heart swells with happiness because i miss them so much! they aren’t far from me like yours but once you’re married things definitely change.

    so glad to be starting my Monday reading this! ;)

  10. Amy

    We had a couple of fun traditions.
    First, we always went on a family drive to look at the Christmas lights, went out to dinner, and finished the night bowling.
    And our most fun tradition – my mom always bought a pinata and we broke it on Christmas Eve day and had candy to snack on that evening while we watched a Christmas movie (often The Santa Clause).

  11. Carey

    I’m a bit late to the game, but your video from Christmas 2013 was too cute. Also, that train mat/set in the video is adorable. Do you recall what brand it is? I think my little would love it… Thanks!

    • TAZA

      it’s brio i believe!

  12. claire

    My family always lays around grazing on leftovers the day after Thanksgiving while watching old home videos. It was originally my dad’s idea, because we always take so many but never actually go back and watch them. We’ve seen them so many times that they mostly just play in the background now, but we all have our favorites that crack us up every year and of course new ones to add to the mix now that we ourselves have a little one!

  13. Elisabeth

    Each Sunday of Advent, my family (of 5, too!) would stay gathered around the dinner table after we were done eating. My mom always kept an advent wreath in the middle of the table. She’d spend the whole year keeping her eyes out for a beautiful Christ candle for the middle of the wreath. On each Sunday, we would light the next candle and then go around the table, each person getting to choose one Christmas carol for the family to sing. When we were younger, there was a lot of Rudolph and Frosty each Sunday. As we got older, the choices became a bit more refined. Because of this tradition, I know the words to just about every carol there is. Also because of this tradition, no matter where I am in the world during the holiday season, I feel especially close to my family and carry them with me. With each carol I hear on the radio, in a store, or at home, I feel the spirit of the season.

  14. This is so sweet. Made me really look forward to the Holidays!

  15. Alyssa

    Love everything about this post. The holidays are my absolute favorite because of the holiday traditions that I look forward to every year — our movie is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation & we watch it as we decorate the tree :) I love your idea for making a short video, I am definitely going to do that this year. Thanks for sharing!!


  16. This is such a cute post! My family is huge on traditions, especially around the holidays. For over 20 years, my family has cut down our own Christmas tree and decorated it. That’s a big deal for us, but Christmas Eve is probably the most traditional day of the year for us. We always dress up and go to church, come home and eat Chinese food before doing a PJ hunt, watching a Christmas movie and leaving out stockings and cookies for Santa. In the morning, we unwrap presents one by one to make sure we get to see the look on everyone’s face. I hope to continue these traditions with my children in years to come.


  17. it’s never too early for Christmas! I love reading about other families’ traditions. it’s my favorite time of year!

  18. Annie

    Yes! Watching Home Alone is definitely one of my favorite holiday traditions too! I’ve been itching to bring out the dvd, I can barely wait until after Thanksgiving! The other day, my husband even asked if it’s too early to put the tree up. I think we are all just so excited for the holidays this year :)

    Thank you for sharing your lovely traditions!

    The MAMA Gazette

  19. Kate

    I love this post! And I love that you are already in the holiday spirit, I’m the same way. :)

    A couple of my favorite holiday traditions: cutting out paper snowflakes and putting them up in windows, having a huge cookie day and giving out cookies to friends/neighbors.

    It really is the most wonderful time of the year!


  20. Laura

    I grew up in Colorado with my extended family in California. At first we went to visit them every year for Christmas but the drive was a little too dangerous for a couple of years so we decided to stay home. I’ve always valued the time we spent together. On Christmas Eve, we go to Mass, then come home and my mom always makes vichyssoise, a French cream/potato soup. I’m not sure when we started the tradition but it’s been a nice one. And then on Christmas morning, presents! And typically we make sausage, eggs, and cinnamon rolls. The food traditions are some of the best, don’t you think?

  21. kiely

    seeing the nutcracker is definitely one of my favorites AND the trans-siberian cd is uh-mazing! can’t wait for christmas :)

    xoxo, kiely

  22. Trish O

    WE have a lot of Christmas traditions but the one I love most my kids “think” they are getting too old for any more (they are 10 and 12). When they were little (about your kids’ age) we would read Snowbear’s Christmas Countdown each night. It is a sweet book that has Snowbear doing something special each day of December before Christmas. So I would read it to the boys each night like an Advent Calendar. On Dec. ! I would read what Snowbear did on the first day of December. On December 2 I would read what he did on the first and second day of December…and so on until Christmas Eve. I loved it. I still do it, but they are not too into it anymore. However, I think I will keep doing it. Traditions always take a beating around the tween/teen years but they are special again when the children are adults. Anyway, that is my theory. Happy Holidays.

  23. Love all these traditions! My family has SO many traditions, I’m thinking a post like this of my own is in order. We are Christmas movie people, and it’s never Christmas unless we’ve checked off everything on our list of about 20 movies!

    We always watch It’s A Wonderful Life &White Christmas on New Year’s Eve (so many people tell us we’re wrong, it’s a Christmas Eve movie, but to us the holiday doesn’t end until after New Year’s!) with a smorgasbord of peanut butter bonbons, fudge, cheese and crackers and dip.

    A new food tradition we’re planning this year is burgers, fries and malts w/ our Christmas Eve movie, All I Want for Christmas!


  24. 13bees

    this post is really sweet!

  25. vicky

    i was reading through comments and really wasn’t sure mine was clear and quite honestly, it sounded a bit selfish. it surely wasn’t intended that way. i wanted to explain that i always think i’m doing something great for other people and personally, i always feel like i come home with way more than i ever could think i was giving. the people i end up being surrounded by, wherever i am, they have such an impact on me. i will always be thankful for them. so in reality, they have blessed me while my main purpose was to come and serve/bless them.

    i hope that makes sense! and i hope it made sense the first time ;)

  26. Chelsea

    My family is Italian, so we have a tradition related to the feast of the seven fishes (which usually takes place on Christmas eve and involves, you guessed it — seven kinds of fish). Every year my mom makes a giant batch of homemade cioppino with seven kinds of seafood, and we all gather together and eat and enjoy the holiday wonder. One of my favorite parts of the night though, is where we pass out pens and paper and everyone makes predictions about what they think will happen in the next year. We make our predictions, then fold them up and keep them until the following year when we read everyone’s predictions aloud at cioppino night before making new predictions again. It’s so fun to hear what came true (so far my sister and I have correctly predicted each others’ engagements and first pregnancies) and what predictions are just plain crazy. :)

  27. Andy

    You have so beautiful and wonderful traditions!!! So much fun! In Argentina, we really do not have so many traditions, personally it is all about lots of food and presents.
    With my family, we always play the invisible friend, so you do not know who is going to give you a present until that night.

  28. Bev

    I love hearing other families traditions! My family is full of traditions, Christmas Eve we have a fancy dinner and open one gift and then get in our jammies and watch Holiday movies. Christmas morning is a big fiasco with gift opening followed by a huge brunch that always includes hot cocoa and monkey bread. I look forward to the Holidays every year!


  29. Bea

    it’s never too early to say Merry Christmas!!!!!!!

  30. Dee

    Other Christmas traditions at our house.. 1. make a new Christmas decoration for the tree every year (not just for kids, my favourite year was when my husband and I made sparkly salt dough knights) 2. Go to the Cathedral carol service, We’re Anglican and will do the key services at our own church, but it’s nice to make the effort to go into the city for the big cathedral service with a proper choir. 3. Six weeks out, watch Love Actually (the film starts 6 weeks before the big day) 4. Read Christmas stories, we have a big box of christmas stories, we get out every year 5. See our favourite ‘big house’ decorated by Candlelight 6. Christmas Eve food shop, love picking up the Turkey and veg fresh on Christmas Eve! 7. The german markets, such a key date in our city, everyone meets ‘under big santa’ at the Christmas market, which is a bit of a scrum but great for bumping into people randomnly 8. The boxing day walk, wrap up for a hearty walk in the hills (or at least round the park!) to build up an appetite for the next round of eating. Oo I’m excited now!

  31. Adrienne

    Decorating the tree has to be my favourite Christmas tradition. It is the start of Christmas in our house X

  32. Caroline

    those are very fun Christmas traditions, thanks for sharing! I loved your matching pj’s from last year. I would love to get matching pj’s for my family mostly because i want to see my older brothers wear them. hehe! Do you know where your mom got them? Thank you & happy holidays!!

    • TAZA

      They are from Hanna andersen!

  33. Naomi, this list has me even more excited for the holidays – traditions are the best! You mentioned serving others with little ones (first of all, bravo for remembering the reason for the season) and I have a recommendation. Each year since I was very young, my family has “adopted” another family during the holiday season. I believe there are many different churches and organizations in your city that will host this kind of program. Basically, you are partnered with another less fortunate family and help them out by donating whatever you can to brighten their holiday. I especially like these programs because they allow you to get personal and connect with the family you are serving. You get the learn about each member of the family – their names, ages, interests, clothing sizes – and you can donate and gift to them accordingly. It is an especially neat process for young ones because they can be involved in making another child’s Christmas holiday special.

    It was very moving to me at a young age to know that I could be a helping a little boy or girl like me get a toy they’ve always wanted or socks or a jacket to keep them warm in the winter. All donations and clothing and toy drives are excellent ways to serve others during the holidays (and all times of the year), but I always appreciated getting to know one family in particular. The connection is so special and rewarding.

    My family will be doing this again this year! Along with the annual screening of It’s a Wonderful Life, of course! (Jimmy Stewart – can’t go wrong ;) )

  34. Susan

    Love all that you’ve shared and continue to share regarding the small moments in life and motherhood that are beautiful.

    Some of my most favourite family traditions usually involve food but one that I’ll always remember and we continue with our little guy. When I was a child along with my three brothers we would gather at the top of the stairs in our our jammies shaking with excitement on Christmas morning. My father would somehow manoeuvre his way around all four of us and go downstairs. He would put the coffee on for him and my exhausted Mother and then he would ensure the the tree was lit. He always said he was just making sure Santa came but I think he truly just enjoyed the few moments of joy & excited children before it became too crazy. Once he was ready, he would very proudly announce that we could all come down. Mom was handed her coffee and we all ran and stopped as soon as we saw the tree all decorated with our hilarious decorations and brightly lit. Even as teenagers and young adults going home with our families we still do the same thing. Usually a photo was taken by my father of us and those are amazing to look back on with bed head and pjs! The best!!!!

  35. I envy you. For some reason my parents believe that Christmas is ONLY about Jesus. Ok, I get it, but what I don’t get is that they somehow think all the family reunions, traditions, Christmas tree and all that things are totally pointless. I don’t even know why – obviously you can do all those things and still remember about Jesus being born!
    So since this is our second Christmas after the wedding we are trying to find some traditions of our own. It’s difficult though when I didn’t have any experience of that in the past and also – a year ago we were so stressed about hosting a big family party at our new home we actually didn’s enjoy it at all :D

    I loooove Christmas though and this year it will be different, I am sure of that :)

  36. Laura

    So cute! Now that baby girl is 2 we are so looking forward to having her help decorate the tree, I think she will love it. And we are planning a Christmas Eve movie night in our PJs this year to be repeated every year.

    Love the holidays!
    xoxo, Laura

  37. Shannon

    It’s never too early! But don’t forget Thanksgiving! and gratitude.
    We used to do the exact same shopping thing you guys did at Walmart! Although it was on a weeknight and we would be running around this huge mall and I was always so excited I thought I would burst! We have a lot of rules at our house associated with Christmas morning. Like you can’t come downstairs until you’re dressed and your bed is made. And we have to drink orange juice and eat Christmas bread before opening stockings and presents. Some years when the weather’s nice we have gone to the park to play basketball after presents, because we all like basketball. And one year on Christmas we went to see a friend of my sister’s who was in the hospital over Christmas. We brought her stuffed animals and arts and crafts and I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Thanks for sharing such a comprehensive list! Props!

  38. I love Putting up Christmas Lights :)

  39. Michal Lynn

    I love this! Traditions are definitely what make the holiday season so special. One that has continued and will be mourned once we are married and growing little families of our own is Christmas Eve with my sister. Growing up, we shared a bed and then, eventually, just a bedroom. We’ve always been able to set an alarm to wake each other up, sneak downstairs to scope out the presents, and beg our parents to wake up! When we moved to our current house in 2004, we got separate bedrooms and I was thrilled about it until Christmas Eve came along. So I started to drag my mattress into my sister’s room (let it be known that I’m the older sister, but I sound like the baby!) and we would wrap our presents for our parents and boyfriends to set out while watching A Christmas Story on repeat throughout the night. My sister has a bigger bed now (even though she moved out earlier this year) so we now share the big old bed. We will drink some wine, watch It’s a Wonderful Life (that’s a newer tradition…we don’t always pay attention, but it gets me every time), and wrap gifts. We don’t wake up as early as we used to, or care what’s under the tree as much, but I’m so thankful that I have a sister who loves doing this with me and I hope one day I can have children as close as we are!

  40. mara

    yay for the nutcracker!! :) i only performed in it one year (ballet west), but i love love loved it. my sister performed in it a few different times and it was also a family favorite of ours growing up. i still always love to see nutcrackers in the stores around this time of year.

  41. Mary

    I love this list! One of my favorite traditions (borrowed from my mom) is having a holiday cookie party with my friends. I love the excuse to decorate the house and a chance to make my favorite cookies. Growing up my dad also used to have “the elves” right to us, and they would do little things through the month of December to remind us to be good. It made Christmas time so fun. I also love your 12 dates of Christmas idea — I did it last year and had a blast with my husband.

  42. Brittany

    BEAUTIFUL post! You just totally lifted my holiday spirits!

  43. Gina

    Memories and experience cannot be replaced by any present! Great post!

  44. Carrie M.

    We always wrap a Christmas Eve box, that has new PJs, a Christmas movie (this year it’s Polar Express),popcorn, and hot cocoa in it and let the kids open it right after dinner. After the movie, we drive around different neighborhoods to look at the pretty lights and trees lit up in the windows, while watching the skies for Santa. My littles always swear they see Rudolph, and then we go home, set out cookies and milk, and tuck them in tight while they tell us their Christmas wishes. On Christmas morning, they run downstairs to see the tree and then we bake cinnamon rolls together and read the Christmas story in the book of Luke over breakfast before opening gifts. Always a good time. :-)

  45. Brooke

    Every year we do a family home evening involving the nativity. Each child reads the coordinating scripture verses and places that character in the stable. It is a beautiful, simple thing that brings the Spirit of Christ into our home :) Also our family gets together (benefit of living close together) on Christmas Eve. We sing songs, eat good food, laugh, and the kids dress up and reenact the Nativity scene!

    Thanks for sharing your traditions.

    With love

  46. Everyone has their own angel ornament that goes on the tree. My siblings and I all got our angel on our first Christmas. If you’re a new family member (married in), you get one. :)

    Christina http://www.cityloveee.blogspot.com

  47. Ashlee

    Always wanted to see the Nutcracker live! Coming into NYC every year around the holidays is my favorite, its so magical!


  48. Chelsea

    love this post so much- you have such a gift for sharing- I’m continually impressed and inspired. I have been trying to find my way with the holidays. I’m wanting to create family traditions and celebrate the holiday with just us- it can be a tricky situation, but it’s important for me that we have these as a family, if that makes any sense. Anyway- so excited for the book recommendation. I love David Sedaris, so I got it for my hubby and I to start reading together and night!


  49. Carly

    These traditions are lovely! My family didn’t really have any traditions and I desperately want to have them for my little family, but it’s hard to find one everyone will enjoy. Your post gave me some wonderful ideas. Thank you
    The Doctor Diva

  50. Katie

    My mama has ordered a “Happy Birthday, Jesus” cake every year as far back as I can remember. Every. Single. Year. Your family isn’t alone! :)

  51. madi

    Your line about It’s A Wonderful Life makes me feel so validated; my dad makes my family watch it every year on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and I don’t love it!!!! You totally know!

    Also, this blog is great and I love chatting it up with my friends. Grad students in Provo love to dream of the life in NYC, especially with such cute babies :) thanks for the smiles and stories and everything else!

  52. Loved reading this, the Monday night shopping in walmart is amazing ;) my family has a tradition of getting together every advent Sunday and singing christmas songs :) we also used to take part in a charity that sends little packages to children in africa at christmas and had so much fun filling them with cute stuff!

  53. Lauren

    I LOVE the Christmas challenges! Also, was it you guys who spent the night camped out next to the lit up Christmas tree last Christmas?? If it was you, I really loved that. I can imagine being a little and being so excited!

    Maybe for serving – a good way that I like to give back to the community is by contributing to a wishing tree. Do you have those where you are? You can donate a present for a less fortunate girl or boy and put it under the tree. Eleanor and Samson might enjoy picking out a gift they’d like to give for someone their age? Just an idea!

    I love this post. It’s my favourite season too, and even though it’s summer in New Zealand I’m always dreaming of a white Christmas!

  54. Louise

    Aah this has made me so excited for Christmas! What a lovely post. I love all these traditions, thanks for sharing. Hope you have a beautiful holiday season when it comes xx

  55. Maja

    We decorate the tree together while listening to music, dancing and having a lot of fun. After yummy dinner and desert we open presents and have a drink. I don´t know how I will spend Christmas Eve in the future, when I have kids. It would be best if we continue our tradition and return to grandma every year for Christmas Eve :)
    Have a great day.

  56. Lila

    Thank you for sharing this ideas ! It sounds wonderful.

  57. Sonia

    I make an advent calendar each year. I decorate little cards with different embellishments and write activities to do together. On work nights (I’m a middle school teacher) I choose simple things like make hot chocolate, read the story of Jesus birth, watch a Christmas movie. On weekends I chose things like deliver cookies to friends and go to the Old Fashioned Christmas in our down town. My little 4 year old loves to see how I decorate the cards and gets so excited each morning taking a card down.

    BTW, did you know there is another Josh Davis out there who is a tattoo artist lol? My husband is a tattoo artist as well and mentioned the name and it made me laugh.

  58. Georgia

    I think it’s SO adorable (and yes, also dorky,) that you guys wear matching PJ’s. I also think it’s awesome that you try to do something for others with your kids at such an early age. I love the idea of having the kiddos select a few gently worn (or even new, if your children are exceptionally mature) toys or items to donate to children in need. I don’t have kids but I’d like to give this a try one day.

  59. Michelle

    We had a Christmas Eve birthday party too! Growing up my mom always made red velvet cake for Christmas Eve (this was in the 70s and 80s – long before it was trendy!) A small plastic nativity sat on top of the cake, along with a birthday candle, and we’d have our own little birthday party for Jesus.

  60. Rose J.

    Temple lights at the D.C. temple are a must on our list, and since I have a daughter who plays the violin we always see Jenny Oaks Baker perform (she performs every year at the visitors center). Longwood Gardens has a beautiful light display every Christmas (if you can tolerate walking around 1000 acres of land in the cold! We started taking our kids to the “Santa express” which is riding on the train for an hour. It’s so fun. They wear their pajamas, and serve hot chocolate on the train. Santa and Mrs. Clause also aboard the train rides, and you can have your picture taken with them. It’s as close as your going to get to the “Polar Express”! haha! Of course seeing Santa at Macy’s or the Plaza. We live in Jersey, but go everywhere! Movies are a must and our faves are Polar Express, Elf, and It’s a Wonderful Life. Rudolph (the classic) is another favorite. I can go on and on as far as what we’ve build traditions on. You are very fortunate to have grown up with parents who build traditions for your family. Being raised by a single mom is one of the reasons I think is why I have gone out of my way to build both spiritual and temporal traditions with my family now. We love the east coast, and there are so many fun things to do during the holiday season. We are actually going to the Macy’s parade this year for the second time.

    take care and keep on building!


  61. Sarah-Louise

    Reading these sweet memories and traditions is making me cry. I have been a long time follower and love keeping up with your family. I lost my beloved older brother 9 months ago, and this Christmas is scaring me to death. A lifetime of happy Christmas memories and now he’s not here. We have two little children, 3 and 15 months, so obviously mommy can’t be crying all season long. Reading this inspired me to think of something, a new tradition to start and keep with my own family. Thanks for being sweet, and sharing your pretty hearts with people.

  62. marie

    This year will be my second baby’s first Christmas and we’re so excited! I can’t wait to celebrate the occasion with my babyboy and his big brother :)


  63. Bonny

    Our newest family tradition, and now everyones favorite, is having a Bethlehem festival on Christmas Eve. We dress up in our attempt at traditional clothing. We eat a Mediterranean meal with lamb, and my favorite part we bring gifts to the Savior. These are usually promises we make to him wrapped up in little boxes.

  64. I SWEAR it was only YESTERDAY that you had dyed your hair blond… I swear because it is impossible that a whole year has gone by so quickly. Impossible.

    Valentina Duracinsky Blog

  65. when we were younger we would always spend Christmas Eve at grandma’s house. we would order Domino’s pizza and Kentucky Fried Chicken {apparently, everyone was still exhausted from all the cooking during Thanksgiving}. after dinner, we would open presents. there would always be 3 little envelopes taped to the entertainment center for the grand kids. they were filled with lottery scratchers. each of us kids would take those envelopes, secure a quarter or some other scratching utensil and pray that we would become millionaires that Christmas. i think the most we won was $17 which might as well be a million dollars to us. those memories are still so vivid and i will cherish them forever.

    xoxo, kerri

  66. Courtney

    With my family back in Indiana, we would all pile into my dad’s jeep and go to the nursery together to pick a Christmas tree. We would decorate the Christmas tree two weeks before Christmas and rock out to the same Christmas album every year. My mom’s birthday is on Christmas Eve so we would have a huge Surf and Turf meal and open one gift. On Christmas, we always make turkey since my dad doesn’t eat red meat. Basically a second Thanksgiving meal.

    Now that my husband and I live in California and don’t fly back every year, we have the tradition of decorating the house and tree the day after Thanksgiving while listening to Christmas music and drinking EggNog spiked with Baileys :-)

    Enjoy the holidays!

  67. Love all of these ideas! Our family has a Christmas Craft session every year. We have done everything from paper hats to coffee creamer bottle snowmen. Once everyone has finished their craft we judge them and the winner gets a little special gift. Just a silly thing that everyone looks forward to and always gets lots of laughs :)

  68. McKenna

    Some of my favorites were a Sibling Secret Santa, Christmas Eve Pjs and delivering trays of cookies and goodies to police men and fire departments on Christmas Eve! I just love the holidays.

  69. sarah yake

    go blonde again! it looked amazinggggggg!! :)

  70. Lindsay

    Naomi – not sure if you’ll read this – but I just HAD to share that my mom always made a birthday cake on Christmas Eve, too! We’d sing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning and eat cake lol. Kind of strange, but you’re not alone! Can’t wait to be a momma like you!

  71. Arica

    These are all so sweet and fill my heart up so much. I have a few traditions I do with my family to this day and I cannot even wait to start my own someday when I have a family too.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Arica xxo

  72. Narina

    I am going to start doing this!

  73. Kristin

    I LOVE that you sang Happy Birthday to Jesus! When we were kids, my mom would bake a cake and we’d sing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning. It was a little something to make the “reason for the season” a little more special. Thanks for sharing!

  74. Jessica R.

    Such a cute post! I love holiday traditions and I love your holiday pjs even more! I just checked the Hanna Andersen website- did they have adult sizes last yr? Only see them in kids this year and I’m sooooo sad!


    • TAZA

      i think they should have adult sizes too! i just got the catalog in the mail and saw family pj’s!

  75. Ash

    Such a fun post!

    I’m one of 5 kids – my “baby” sister being 10 years younger than me. Every year, my mom would take her to the 99 cent store to buy us older siblings Christmas gifts. It was always PURE COMEDY opening them. And she would always have such a proud look on her face when we played up how much we loved our gifts…things like whisks, mouse traps, strange candy, BRAS (lol!), etc. It’s a tradition I look forward to doing with my littles ;)

  76. Mariska

    Those are some lovely traditions. My favorite holiday was Sinterklaas (which is the original Santa Claus, but a whole other tradition) which we celebrate in the Netherlands. Although I don’t live there anymore, I try to get as much as the holiday fun as I can.. watching the movies, listening the music, etc. It is a magical time of year!

  77. I love all of these traditions and took a look at the challenge list as well. I might give the challenge a go it looks like fun.

  78. Sarah

    And here I thought my family was the only one singing Happy Birthday Jesus every year. Thank you for sharing!!!

  79. Arna Searle

    I have 2 children, and one on the way. One of our traditions at a Christmas is, we go to my favourite store and the kids choose a Christmas decoration for the tree. Each year we add more and more and when they are old enough and decorate their own tree with their family, I will give them their decorations. I have some of my grandmas and I love putting them on my tree. I feel she is a part of our day, she loved Christmas almost as much as I do.