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5 Christmas Traditions I’m Continuing With My Kids

Eva Amurri Martino wears reindeer antlers and decorates her Christmas tree with her family using a variety of ornaments collected over the years

For me, the magic of the Holiday season has so much to do with Tradition.  Ever since I became a Mom, the magic of Christmas has felt fresh to me again, and I love experiencing everything through my kids’ eyes.  Christmas memories still remain some of my favorite from my own childhood, and there are a few things we did around the holidays growing up that I have been so excited to replicate with my own family.  Today I thought I would share the 5 Christmas traditions I’m continuing with my own kids! I hope that Marlowe and Major grow to appreciate these traditions, and maybe even continue them with their own families one day! Now let me get on with it before I start crying…LOL…

Marlowe and Major Martino decorate their family christmas tree in Connecticut the day after Thanksgiving

1. Decorating Our Tree The Day After Thanksgiving

This is a tradition that started early for us growing up.  We used to go away a lot for Christmas itself, so we always decorated our tree super early! I just love the coziness of “officially” setting off the Christmas season the day after Thanksgiving, and there’s always lots of family members around to help decorate! This year was the first that Major got to participate as well, and as you can imagine, my heart was totally bursting watching my daughter and son continue on with this! Major was also surprisingly good at hanging ornaments! LOL

Eva Amurri Martino kisses son Major while they decorate the family Christmas tree

Marlowe Martino hangs an ornament on her family Christmas tree

Marlowe Martino goes through her toys to select 5 to give away to children in need during the Christmas holiday

2.  Selecting Toys To Give Away To Children In Need

There was always a huge emphasis on giving back when I was growing up, and the holiday season was no different! Each year around Christmas, my Mom would have us go through our clothes and toys and choose some to donate to less fortunate children.  They always had to be in tip top shape as well– nothing broken or worn out! This was a great way of placing focus on the true meaning of Christmas, while also clearing out room for the gifts that Santa would bring.  I love this tradition, and now each year I have my kids select 5 toys each to give away! Marlowe got to choose some from Major this year, but next year he will participate himself! (NOTE: Don’t tell, but Mommy also chooses a few herself.  We always end up with mountains of stuffed animals, and lots of them sit there untouched! I always “re-home” quite a few at Christmastime.)

Eva Amurri Martino high fives daughter Marlowe after she chooses toys to give away to children in need

Eva Amurri Martino hugs and tickles three year old daughter marlowe in the family room of their Connecticut home

Marlowe Martino carries a box of toys to donate to children in need at Christmas Time

Marlowe Martino carries a box of toys to donate to children in need at Christmas Time

Marlowe Martino stands in front of her family advent calendar

3. Advent Calendar

Our family advent calendar was always a HUGE part of our Christmas buildup when I was a kid! We had a wooden Christmas Tree one filled with tiny wooden ornaments, and every day in December we would open one drawer and hang the ornament on our tree.  As you can imagine, there was a few instances of fighting between the three of us over who would get to hang it.  Just a few instances.  LOL.  I wanted to continue with the Christmas tree theme now that Marlowe is old enough to participate, and I found this fabulous hanging advent that is perfect! I love that I can fill the little stockings with everything from little chocolate medallions to ornaments, and even small toys! Marlowe has been SO in to it this year.  And since Major still doesn’t care about it at all, there hasn’t been any fighting! Stay tuned for next year, though. Ha! I’ve also made my own Advent Calendar in the past which turned out really cute, and was a fun project!

Eva Amurri Martino helps three year old daughter Marlowe unwrap a day of her Advent Calendar

Marlowe Martino unwraps a piece of chocolate from her advent calendar

Eva Amurri Martino helps three year old daughter Marlowe write a letter to Santa

4.  Writing A Letter To Santa

A  couple weeks before Christmas when I was a kid, I would ALWAYS write a letter to Santa! The letter would of course include some tips about what I wanted for Christmas, along with a strangely lengthy number of questions about his reindeer. I was always a lot more interested in Santa’s reindeer than in Santa himself! Ha! I continue this tradition with my own kids now.  I sit down and write out “Dear Santa” and then Marlowe takes over to “write” her letter.  Then she decorates it with stickers and we put it in the mailbox together addressed to the North Pole.  I’m absolutely positive it gets hand delivered to Santa himself in record time…

Eva Amurri Martino helps three year old daughter, Marlowe write a letter to santa

Marlowe Martino shows off her letter to Santa

Marlowe Martino shows off her letter to Santa

Eva Amurri Martino and her family leave out treats for Santa in front of the Christmas tree

5.  Baking Cookies For Santa On Christmas Eve

We had a tradition of leaving out Cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve my entire childhood…with a glass of milk AND a cocktail waiting for him! LOL.  We didn’t bake the cookies then, but with my kids now, we always bake and decorate sugar cookies to leave for our number one Jolly guy! We leave a little note thanking Santa for visiting our house, a glass of milk, a glass of whiskey, and some veggies for the reindeer.  Marlowe is insisting this year on leaving Zucchini for Rudolph.  I’m not sure why she’s so adamant about this vegetable choice, but I better make sure I have some zucchini on hand on Christmas Eve! Ha!

Marlowe Martino makes sugar cookies for Santa

Marlowe Martino decorates cookies for Santa

Eva Amurri Martino and her family leave out a letter and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve

Eva Amurri Martino introduces the Elf On The Shelf tradition to her kids

And New Traditions Too…

Meet “Berry” our Elf On The Shelf! We never had one growing up, but I can’t help but love this adorable Christmas tradition– and my kids do too! It’s fun to come up with creative ways for our kids to find Berry in the morning, and I gotta say I ADORE having a little bit of a PositiveChristmas Behavior reinforcer who sits on my mantle every day threatening my kids. LOL.  Berry has only been with us a few weeks and already she has stopped multiple tantrums mid-scream.  If that’s not a Christmas miracle, I don’t know what is!

What’s your favorite Holiday tradition from  your own childhood that you’ve continued with your own children? Please share in the comments below!

 

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Current Photographs by Carter Fish

 

 

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17 Comments

  1. Brenda Jacobe says:

    My Dutch grandfather started the tradition of “Christmas Eve gift”. We would get so excited to be the first one to say “Christmas Eve gift” to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They always had a small gift for us because the kids always won! We continued this with my kids and now my grandkids.

    12.14.17Reply
  2. Ashley Huebner says:

    We always got a “special” ornament on Christmas Eve. My mother chose a theme for each one of us; I got an angel, brother got a nutcracker, etc. Now, with my own kiddo, I will continue this tradition. My husband and I have decided to change it up and choose an ornament to symbolize a great memory from the year. Hopefully, our son will look back at his collection of ornaments and also remember years of great moments!
    Ps: love this blog post! 😊
    Happy Christmas

    12.14.17Reply
  3. Jaycee says:

    We always set aside a night to look at Christmas lights in the neighborhood. I love seeing what decorations catch the kids eyes!
    I love your current advent calendar!! I want to do one, but with THREE boys finding something that can accommodate that many daily surprises can be daunting!

    12.14.17Reply
  4. Britta says:

    My family is Swedish so in sticking with tradition, we grew up celebrating Christmas on the 24th with a large julbord, lussekatter, disney movies, and a visit from tomten (santa) who avoids the chimney and simply knocks on the door with the gifts. By the 25th we were already playing with our toys or, later on, nursing a stomach ache or hangover!
    When I got married my husband and I merged a lot of our family traditions, so we now celebrate more on the 25th, but we still try and keep a few Swedish traditions alive. A december 13 Lucia procession is still a must for us!

    12.14.17Reply
  5. Kelley says:

    I love Marlowe’s outfit, I want an adult size version! And the picture of her carrying the box of toys is just too cute.

    Love all of the traditions, new and old!

    12.14.17Reply
    • Megan says:

      I agree about loving Marlowe’s outfits in this post! Especially those leggings in the pictures decorating the tree. Where can I get a pair?! These are all great traditions too. Many of them I did growing up as well. Looking forward to when I have kids of my own to relive the true magic of Christmas through their eyes!

      12.14.17Reply
  6. I never thought to make my own advent calendar! We always buy one and eat the chocolate from it. But it would totally be fun to have the same one every year that we can customize.

    12.14.17Reply
  7. Erin says:

    Wonderful post!! We have very similar traditions!! A few others that I grew up with and now do with my own kids are; a brand new Christmas story before bed on Christmas Eve, snuggled on the couch!! We also give the kids one present to touch, shake and feel and then place back under the tree. It’s something that would be too hard to guess, but it gives them something to focus on as they go to bed!
    I hope you and your gorgeous family have the Merriest Christmas!!!

    12.14.17Reply
  8. V says:

    Love this! I don’t really have any traditions from my childhood so I am always on the lookout for ones to start now that I am a mom! Putting these on my list for next year.

    12.14.17Reply
  9. Melissa says:

    Wonderful traditions! I love the Advent socks! I want to do that next year such a fun surprise for the kids guessing what is inside! Though i’d Have to make sure it could be shared x 3 lol 🙂

    I love playing Yankee Swap with all my relatives on Christmas Eve!

    Melissa

    12.14.17Reply
  10. Naomi says:

    My kids love advent calendars! Such a fun way to get into the holiday spirit!

    12.14.17Reply
  11. Amanda says:

    Great post. My favourite tradition growing up that I continue with my daughter is that Santa would always leave a present at the end of our beds so when we would wake up we would know that he been to our house. It was so fun!

    12.14.17Reply
  12. Brigit says:

    Beautiful. Traditions are really important. When me , my sister and brother were little we had a tradition to go to my nonna house for Christmas eve and put baby Jesus out at midnight in the manger presepe in Italian and, then share gifts. miss some of them. I plan to share some traditions with my family.

    12.14.17Reply
  13. LaTasha Dennis says:

    On Christmas Eve or a little before, I volunteer with my friends at a local Women’s shelter. Throughout the month we collect unwrapped toys & gifts. We give the moms & children a holiday party (Food, games, DJ & gifts). Last year we had so many donations come in that each child was allotted 3-5 gifts vs. 1 and for the first time we presented the moms with a present also. We received a nice donation of fuzzy blankets & slippers. The moms weren’t expecting anything for themselves but they were very appreciative. Lots of vendors also donated soft drinks, snacks & services (catering), DJ, etc… I can’t wait to see the outcome in the coming days ❤️🎄💚 it makes me feel good to participate in such a wonderful event.

    12.14.17Reply
  14. Glenda says:

    Wonderful traditions! I love Christmas traditions.
    We do:
    * go around neighborhood and look at lights
    * a very special ornament representing that year
    * opening stocking stuffers on Christmas Eve
    * adopting a family and buying gifts for a boy and girl (this way each of my kids gets to partake
    * waking up on Christmas morning and having breakfast together, then opening gifts
    * writing letter to Santa and leaving milk and cookies

    12.19.17Reply
    • I love the adopting a family idea! I want to start that when my kids are old enough to get it 🙂

      12.31.17Reply