Christmas less than three weeks and as we start planning for the holidays, I want to share with you our favorite holiday family traditions. These traditions are generational and often times are the things we most clearly and dearly remember about Christmases past. With so much to be thankful for and in a world where we all have enough stuff; family traditions bring us together and create life-long stories. The people that surround us are family. Both past and present we honor the memory of those we love as we honor the magic of Christmas. These traditions come from both sides of our family and are shared by all. Part of what makes these traditions fun is how they differ from one family subset to another. These traditions grow and transform throughout the years. Enjoy our favorite holiday traditions.
The Christmas Pickle
The Christmas Pickle is a tradition my brother in California does each year with his family. My daughter lived with him for a while and saw this first-hand, and loved it so much we now have a Christmas Pickle!
On Christmas Eve, at the end of the night, one person hides the pickle on the Christmas tree. Once the pickle has been hidden no one is allowed to look directly at the tree. The first thing the next morning, everyone gathers around the Christmas tree, eyes closed or down. And on the count of three everyone looks up to find the pickle. The lucky winner gets a small gift and has the honor of hiding the pickle next year.
The Peppermint Pig
My mom and sister traveled around the world for decades, and one of the favorite holiday traditions was the peppermint pig. Before plates are cleared on Christmas Day, a peppermint pig is passed around in an opaque bag with a miniature hammer. Everyone takes a turn (how many turns depends on the size of your group) whacking the pig and wishing one piece of good fortune on the group in the upcoming year. Once the pig has been thoroughly whacked, everyone without looking picks their piece of peppermint and enjoys the prospects of the good year to come.
The kids have looked forward to opening their Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve every year since we started. It was a family tradition when I was a kid. There’s no arguing about what gift gets to be opened and often times the jammies match, making for great holiday photos.
Candlelight & Small Plates
Christmas Day dinner tends to look like Thanksgiving all over again. And because that dinner is a lot of work, my family has always “tipped their hat” to the Christmas Day chef by preparing and presenting a candlelit dinner of appetizers, cold salads, yummy dips, and finger foods as our Christmas Eve dinner. It’s often later in the evening and right before we sit around the Christmas tree for cookies, cocoa, and Christmas jammies. It’s a wonderful and quiet way to celebrate Christmas.
Pick a Gift Arranging Santa
I have had this honor for most of my adult life and it’s one of my most favorite parts about Christmas Eve. My dad used to wait until all us kids went to bed and then would rearrange all the presents into castles, towers, and fun cascading designs around the Christmas tree. That’s how we knew Santa had come. This tradition carries on and both young and old look forward to seeing the creative display on Christmas Day.
Orange Glory Rolls
Orange is a traditional flavor of the holiday season and offers a citrusy freshness to any breakfast table. Orange Glory Rolls are my husband’s favorite as they were a highly anticipated treat during the holiday season when he was growing up. This is a beautiful family recipe from my mother-in-law that you’re sure to enjoy.
My in-laws live in Australia. Regardless of the distance, we have spent many a wonderful holiday with the “Aussies”. One such Christmas they brought over “Christmas Crackers”. Leading up to the big reveal we had no clue what was in store, and mind you this was before Google. On Christmas Day, we found a “cracker” next to each plate on the dinner table. When the crackers were pulled – with a bang! – a colorful party hat, a toy, or gift fell out! All of our pictures that year included the colorful party hats.
Take Turns to Open Gifts
This is one of my favorite traditions. Instead of a gift free-for-all, we take turns opening gifts. Who the gift is from is read aloud and all eyes are on the opener. We go in a circle until all gifts have been opened. We like to take things slow on Christmas morning and enjoy our time together. Our family does this because it focuses the attention of the process of gift-giving rather than the gift itself. It also gives time to show gratitude to the gift-giver for the gift.