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My 14 Favorite Family Holiday Traditions

The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. I look forward to it like a 7-year-old looks forward to Santa coming down the chimney. My excitement has never been about presents or about any of the commercial aspects of Christmas. My excitement for the holiday season is about traditions and family.

We had several traditions when I was growing up that we all looked forward to like an advent calendar, Christmas tree hunting, and decorating the tree. Some of those traditions have carried over to my family. Casey’s family had their traditions and some of those have carried over to our family as well. We have also worked to start our own traditions with our kids, things that are unique to our family.

Each year we seem to come up with new traditions and Casey and I learn about what we each did as kids.  And as more time has passed, more and more of those conversations result in more traditions for our own family. Hopefully we keep adding traditions year after year. These are the things our kids are going to look back on and remember as being the most joyful and happy times of their lives. I want my kids to be able to look back and be just as excited about Christmas as I am  now as a parent.

Just as my kids have developed their favorite Christmas traditions, I have developed mine as well. A lot of those favorite traditions are traditions that came from my childhood. Here are a few!


  • Weekly Movies 1 of 14
    Weekly Movies
    As soon as Thanksgiving Day hits, my family begins its annual weekend Christmas movie tradition. Each Sunday we choose one Christmas movie to watch until we get to Christmas Day.
  • Decorating the Christmas Tree 2 of 14
    Decorating the Christmas Tree
    Usually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day, we unload the fake Christmas tree (which I'm still learning to accept) and we take turns putting Christmas ornaments on the tree.
  • Advent Calendar 3 of 14
    Advent Calendar
    My family growing up had an advent calendar that we loved to do each year. The calendar had pockets with decorations for a little tree. Each day we would add a decoration to the tree and on Christmas Eve we would put the star on the tree. This is one of my favorite memories of Christmas as a kid.
  • Christmas lights 4 of 14
    Christmas lights
    Each Christmas Eve night before we went to bed as kids, my parents would drive us around our small little town to look at Christmas lights on houses in the town.
  • Christmas Eve Dinner 5 of 14
    Christmas Eve Dinner
    As a kid my family would have Christmas Eve dinner in our basement on the floor, picnic style. My family has adopted a slightly different tradition--we order Chinese food each Christmas Eve.
  • Christmas Tree Hunting 6 of 14
    Christmas Tree Hunting
    I'm a die hard real Christmas tree fan (why we have a fake tree now is a story for another day). My father used to take us all up on the mountain and we'd hunt for a Christmas tree. Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Christmas Village 7 of 14
    Christmas Village
    My family growing up always had a Christmas village with little ceramic houses and an old model train that ran through the village. The village was set up under a second Christmas tree that was set up in our living room. Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Taking Turns 8 of 14
    Taking Turns
    When it comes time to open presents on Christmas morning, we each take turns opening presents so we can enjoy watching others get gifts from others.
  • 12 Days of Christmas 9 of 14
    12 Days of Christmas
    For several years when I was a kid my family picked out another family that lived somewhere within a few miles of our house and we'd do the 12 days of Christmas for them. We'd drop off treats or gifts each night and knock on the door and run. It was a great chance for my parents to teach us about the importance of giving.
  • Bowl of M&Ms 10 of 14
    Bowl of M&Ms
    A bowl of M&Ms is a staple on Christmas in my house. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without the bowl of M&Ms. Photo Credit: Flickr
  • The Christmas Story 11 of 14
    The Christmas Story
    This is a more recent tradition started by TBS. On Christmas we have The Christmas Story playing in the background after the presents have all been opened.
  • Christmas Eve Movie 12 of 14
    Christmas Eve Movie
    On Christmas Eve my dad would round all of us up and we'd watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. My family has adopted Elf as our annual Christmas Eve movie.
  • Yearly Ornament 13 of 14
    Yearly Ornament
    Each year after Thanksgiving we head to the Hallmark store and pick out a Christmas ornament.
  • Christmas Pajamas 14 of 14
    Christmas Pajamas
    For Christmas Eve our kids get to open one present before they go to bed. The present always contains Christmas pajamas that they can wear that night as they wait for Santa to come.

Read more about my family on Moosh in Indy or follow me on Twitter!

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More on Dadding:

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