Christmas traditions are a big part of what makes the holidays special for many families. Traditions can be passed down from generations or ones you create on your own. Types of traditions can include Elf on the Shelf, Advent Calendars, shopping for a real Christmas Tree or as simple as watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer on a Saturday night with kettle corn. Here are a few of our co-founder, Michelle’s personal favourites.
Elf on the Shelf
This little guy, or gal, makes a trip every night to the North Pole to report to Santa on how the kids have been behaving and if they should be added to the naughty or nice list. But the elf itself is sometimes naughty (leaving evidence of getting into mischief in the middle of the night), or nice (leaving a pile of cookies that he or she baked after the trip to the North Pole). This is a hard one for me to keep up with. There have been many nights that I've fallen asleep with the kids, only to wake up at 2 a.m. to realize that our elf, Sparkles, is still sitting in the tree from the day before. Eek!
I grew up with an Advent Calendar. My mom handmade a board with individual squares that were stitched on with little pockets. I have four siblings so that meant a lot of little pockets! My mom would fill each pocket with one or two M&M's or Hershey’s kisses. It was so simple, but growing up it was a feature in our house that meant Christmas was coming. Even as teenagers, we pleaded with my mom to continue this tradition.
Fast forward to today and my three kids love this tradition in our home, but I've added to the fun and have a different calendar every year. So now my kids look forward to not only what they find each day in the calendar, but also what creation it shows up in. Last year, I crafted an old window frame with individual little packets hanging from each frame with the date written on each one. The year before it was a stick with little packets, and the year before that a basket with paper bags all lined up. I like to make it fun. Some days I add sanitizer to go in my kids backpacks, other days it's just a simple note saying that we have a special day planned. I know they appreciate every day they get to open a date on the calendar.
Decorating the tree
I'm a little nostalgic when it comes to anything Christmas - but the tree is probably my favourite. As real as the artificial ones look, I can't bring myself to buy one. Half of the fun when I was growing up was picking out a real tree and making sure my siblings and parents all approved. For a family of 7, this was usually a full day affair and not an easy feat. There were many years we visited Sloan's Christmas Village in Bothwell, Ontario and some years it was as simple as going to a nearby tree lot. But regardless, it was always an adventure! So needless to say, we have the same kind of adventure with my kids. We go to a local Christmas village, called Bastien's Tree Farm. Just like when I was young, it has to be just right. The decorations, however, are a different story! There is no theme to any of my tree decor. Every year the kids and I go on a vacation, we get a Christmas ornament from that destination. And if there is no vacation, I make sure to pick something that has the year on it, that means something to all of us about that specific year. So the tree is a giant hodge-podge of many different ornaments of shapes and sizes that we've collected over the years.
I grew up in a very large family and to this day, we are all very close. So following the old French Canadian tradition, we go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve, followed by a gathering at my Nanny and Pappy's house, singing Christmas carols and opening gifts until the wee hours of the morning. My family is very musically inclined, so Christmas carols is actually pretty cool to listen to if you were looking from the outside-in. We still carry this tradition, with our ever-growing brood, (upwards around 60 of us) and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Handmade Christmas Gifts
This is actually a tradition that we started a few years back. Because our family is so large, it became quite costly to buy gifts for everyone. So instead, our family does secret Santa. However, we changed the rules and created the challenge of hand making a Christmas gift for everybody. The key with our family is to spend the least amount of money possible. This has gone from ornaments made from a tree from the burn pile in our backyard, sugar body scrubs, homemade steak spice, shelves made from pallets, needle point family portraits... it's always amazing to see what everyone comes up with!
Mailing Christmas Cards
I've been hearing a lot on this topic: many people (particularly millennials) are choosing not to mail cards to friends or family. They prefer to reduce their environmental footprint, personal budget, and share on social media. For me personally, I love sending and receiving a personalized card or note. Yes, we are one of those annoying families that create a ridiculous card you must put on display!
As you can see, my family traditions are all about spending quality time with the ones I love. This is why this year, we created a time-capsule ornament for our holiday box. We hope this ornament will help start a new tradition in your family. So remember what the holidays are about for you and have fun with your holiday traditions - new or cherished.