Parent Hacks admin: Presents for you!

It’s holiday time, which means that I’m about to get sentimental on y’all. Parent Hacks was born in December 2005, so at this time of year I tend to think about just how far this site has come. 1800+ posts, 11,000+ comments, 20,000+ subscribers, and an untold amount of wisdom and smarts. I like to think I’m a bit smarter — and hopefully a better parent — for just hanging out with you.

So, as a thank you for everything you do here, I have something special in store for the holidays. Every weekday between now and Christmas, I’ll give away a goodie, or I’ll share a holiday hack. Because you deserve presents! You do! You’re Parenthackers!

To kick off the festivities, I have five sparkly copies of The Daring Book For Girls ready to send to five loving homes. If you haven’t heard about this book (is that even possible?), read my review, then answer the following question in the comments:

What simple holiday tradition does your family enjoy the most?

I’ll choose five winners at random tomorrow evening, December 4! Good luck, and thank you, thank you, thank you for being here. You’re the best.


  1. Amy says

    It is hard to pick which of our traditions we enjoy the most — one very simple favorite is that we get to start playing Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving which our daughter looks forward to all year. (While Mommy and daughter love this, Mom has already had enough of “If we make it through December” — yes, our daughter’s favorite Christmas album is Merle Haggard!) A Mommy favorite is that we go through the toy box and pick items to share with other children. This tradition got expanded this year though — the “sharing selections” picked out Saturday were our fourth of the year, most of which have gone to Iraq. Then there is decorating, crafts, and of course, making cookies!

  2. Nicole says

    Opening and reading holiday cards. My 2 year old especially likes looking at photos on cards and naming the family and friends.

  3. Julia says

    We light the advent wreath. It’s a simple tradition, but so deep in meaning. Thanks for the contest- I, too, have learned alot from your blog!!

  4. Pam says

    my favourite Christmas tradition is the picking out of the Christmas tree. We go to a local tree farm with my parents (they have a truck to get said tree back home)and we wander through the woods in the snow with a thermos of hot chocolate and a saw. It’s usually freezing and there is always the risk that the truck will get stuck down an old woods road and we’ll have to call for help. And of course, there’s the requisite male “my tree is better than your tree because” repartee between hubby and dad. Actually, as I read this back, it sounds like a disaster, but I really do enjoy it.

  5. Carmen says

    Our favourite part is decorating the tree. Digging out the box of holiday ornaments and exclaiming over each thing that is brought out of the box; remembering the Christmas that we got that ornament, etc. And then turning the lights off when it’s all done and oohing and aaahing over the tree. Pure bliss.

  6. Karen Rodriguez says

    Every year after putting on our Pj’s, we grab a cup of hot cocoa (coffee for my hubby and I) and we pile in the car to drive around and look at Christmas lights. We have a 3 year old and a 6 year old who love this! This year my son wanted to go the very day we put up our lights. So we discussed waiting a little closer to Christmas so other families had time to put up their decorations. Oh you can’t forget the Christmas music in the background! It’s always lots of fun and a non expensive way to spend time together.

  7. Katie says

    What I look forward to the most was seeing what my husband comes up with when writting the holiday letter. In the past he has written it in the voice of the dog, our unborn child, and his intercity students. We are told by others they look forward to it each year.

  8. says

    So far my favorite is making the paper chain with my girls! They LOVE it and it’s so cute to see them show everyone who comes over their paper chain on the tree. Simple, but fun, yes?

  9. says

    I picked up a great fabric Santa-with-pockets advent calendar at an after-Christmas sale a few years ago. Every night after the kids are asleep, Santa gets a couple of jellybeans for the next morning. My older son (4) loves seeing what new treat Santa has for him every morning.

  10. Amber says

    We haven’t had much time to create traditions yet – my husband and I have been married for 4 years and my son is just under 2. But what we’re enjoying is finding what traditions we want to bring from our respective families into our new family and what traditions we want to start new. From my husband’s side, we have our son putting the last ornament on the tree. From my side, we have opening on present on Christmas Eve (usually a special pair of PJs). And a new tradition that I want to start with my family is all reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” together.

  11. says

    Our Advent Calendar is the tradition that we look forward to. We fill it with little treats and toys and have a blast opening them all!

  12. Kevin says

    My mom starts making baklava. She really only makes it during Christmas, but it’s worth the wait – it’s the perfect super-rich holiday food and everyone loves it.

  13. John C. says

    My family most enjoys our traditional Christmas meal of stuffed rock cornish game hens, mashed potatoes, cheesy broccoli casserole, and fresh bread.

    The typical follow-up is a family game accompanied by pumpkin pie.

    Food, fellowship, and fun–a family tradition.

  14. says

    My husband LOVES Christmas specials on TV. One of our traditions has been to watch every Christmas special, possible, especially the classics. He is partial to a particular version of A Christmas Carol and searches for it every year. Now that we have a DVR, he records everyone of our favorites and we watch each one of them, even if it means the kids get to stay up a little later on a…gasp…school night.

  15. redheadedhowler says

    Baking cookies. My family has, for years, given cookie plates to family friends. Baking and assembling those trays brings the happiest feelings!

  16. Samantha says

    This is our kiddo’s first Xmas so we’re still establishing our holiday traditions. We had a lot of fun setting up our tree yesterday though. It’s a small one-foot tabletop tree that hubby and I have had for years. So neat to see her little eyes light up and to have her smile while we put ornaments on it and lit it up.

  17. Teresa says

    We put up the Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. Mom and dad have a glass of wine, we put on Christmas music, light a pine scented candle and decorate the tree together. We have a 2 year old and a 6 month old, and with all the traveling we are expected to do over the holidays, it’s great to have a special night just with the girls.

  18. Peter says

    We do Advent readings and light the candles. We also bake a cake on Christmas day. Nothing fancy, but we really try to downplay the whole “Christmas is when you get stuff” mindset.

    We also try to downplay the mindset of “giving until it hurts”. Special gifts showing that you care and know the person make more sense than just buying lots of junk. We still have fun and enjoy the times, but without so much focus on stuff.

  19. says

    Okay, I’ll admit it. I don’t actually like Christmas all that much. Between having to get presents when we’ve just paid way too much money to redo some plumbing, and trying to be in five places at once, the holiday gets to me. (Not to mention, well, last December was the 10th anniversary of my father’s death, which makes the holiday kind of rough for me.)

    But. My daughter LOVES Christmas with every single fiber of her being. She loves getting the tree. She loves getting Christmas cards. She loves decorating, and thinks that we need more decorations, particularly if they are pink and sparkly. (Yes, she’s five, why did you ask?)

    So, really, my favorite holiday “tradition”, if you can call it that, is finding joy in Christmas through my daughter’s love of the season. I can’t bah-humbug it so easily when she is all but dancing as she puts ornaments on the tree. Maybe we’ll even sing carols.

    We also have books that we love to read. Every Christmas eve, we read Twas the Night Before Christmas, a beautifully illustrated version of the Christmas story as found in Luke, and Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant, a Christmas story that even Scrooges like me enjoy.

  20. Shauna says

    Every year right before Thanksgiving, we take pictures for the Christmas cards. We have a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a 150 pound English Mastiff – things usually wind up in laughter in a pile on the grass. We usually come in when our fingers are numb and are cheeks are aching from laughing so hard. We look forward to it every year.

  21. says

    Our favorite early holiday tradition is pulling out the holiday books and the Christmas music. And I can’t tell if I’m influenced by the stores or not, but as my daughter gets older (she’s 3.5 now), I find myself starting earlier each year as well – rushing to the fun stuff with abandon, like she does.

  22. says

    Every Christmas Eve, I read a story to my kids from one of their great-grandmother’s books – Albert Bigelow Paine’s “Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn.” My father read the same story to me out of the same book, and his father to him, every Christmas Eve. More than any other tradition, this one reminds me of the passage of time and the value of family and tradition.

  23. stacy says

    Simple tradition? Just slowing life down and putting on the tunes from the holiday folder of itunes! :) I can get to feeling bah humbug sometimes but a little Mariah signing “All I want for Christmas” makes me smile and hum along every time… :)

  24. Inki says

    My sister and I used to play parcheese in the mornings on the days between Christmas and New Year’s after all the stressful holiday prep was over and we had some time to relax. It was a really good bonding time, and I’m planning on doing the same in our family as soon as my baby is old enough.

  25. says

    My family has enjoyed, since I was a very little girl, “cruising” around distant neighborhoods (it felt so far away!) to look at Christmas light displays. We called it the Christmas Cruise and it always came a couple of nights before Christmas, when we kids could hardly wait any more.

  26. says

    The kids open presents in their new PJs from Christmas Eve. We let them stay in them all day while we eat and play and just hang out together as a family.

  27. says

    We consider ourselves so lucky that our kids have four grandparents still alive and kicking, and so our favorite tradition is traveling around during Christmas week to share the magic of Christmas with kids.

  28. Charlotte says

    LOVE this site and recommend to all my friends!

    The best tradition we have is putting up the Nativity. Last year, my 18mo old repeatedly took Baby Jesus and moved him all around the house- she had so much fun with it… This year again she is glad to have it back out and she has her own kid friendly now!

  29. says

    Each year for 6 years now we host an open house, about 100 e-vites go out and 60+ people come to visit over the course of the day. We have mulled apple cider and mulled wine (usually from home made wine) lots of home made and store bought goodies. We ask a couple of neighbour girls help with the serving and we rent all the glasses and plates (environmentally it’s better and they go back dirty so no clean-up!) It goes on for most of a day with our friends staying till late in the evening, a great way to start off the season!

  30. says

    Every year we teach the kids to make a new decoration. Last year were table-top cardboard trees; this year we cut up the front of old Christmas cards into strips and made paper chains out of them. I keep what they make so we can re-use them as long as they last because I know the kids will enjoy seeing how their skills have changed.

  31. dewayne says

    The most simple, and powerful tradition that we have is to simply be at our own home for Christmas morning. There is nothing better than being where you’re comfortable and finding that Santa has shown up:)

  32. says

    We hid an almond in the rice pudding. Whoever finds the almond wins a prize. If you win the prize, you need to provide the prize for next year.

  33. Britney Bouldin says

    We have a holiday game night with all the extended family that we don’t spend Christmas day with. It is a great low key Christmas event that is a favorite young and old.

  34. Serena says

    A Chanukah tradition here – if the timing works out, we call my mom and sister on speaker phone and all light the candles while singing the blessings together. This started when I went away to college and has continued since – a nice way to still “be together” since we usually are not in the same state during Chanukah.

  35. Ashley says

    Hmmm….Our favorite holiday tradition? Well, we’re a pretty new family (my daughter is 12 months) so we’re just begining our traditions. But, as a child, I always loved getting new ornaments. Each year my parents bought me one or two new ornaments to put on our tree. I hope to do the same for my daughter!

  36. mapletree7 says

    By far, it’s opening the presents. No, really! We draw out the ‘opening’ as long as possible. We take turns going around the room with everyone opening a package, admiring the gift, and thanking the giver. It takes hours.

  37. says

    So far, we love decorating the tree. My 2-1/2 year-old son loves to help put the ornaments on. I agree with dewayne too, just being here Christmas morning is wonderful.

  38. says

    I don’t know how simple it actually is, but one of my favorite traditions is our family’s Christmas caroling party. This is our 10th year! We invite everyone we know, have lots of food, and then wander around our neighborhood singing carols to whoever is brave enough to come to the door and listen. Then we come back to our house to decorate and eat gingerbread cookies.

  39. says

    There are a couple traditions that are my favorites. Since my first-born was old enough, he’s had a small tree in his room every year. Now that his little sister is old enough, they both have their own trees. Since the beautiful lights on the Christmas tree are one of my favorite things, I wanted to share that with my kids. They love having their Christmas tree night lights all season long.

    We also all look forward to picking out a special ornament for each of us every year. We try to pick something that commemorates a special event of the year, like our first canoeing trip with my son, the year we bought our new house, or the year we went to see Dora Live!

    They’re small things, but they make us the happiest.

  40. Denise says

    My favorite simple holiday tradition is the advent calendar. My mom made a hanging-quilt one of a tree, where you pull out the ornaments day by day. My husband and son do this every morning, and this year, my daughter will get to join in the fun. I love watching how much joy they get from something this simple!

  41. WTO says

    When you say holiday season, do you include thanksgiving? My favorite thing is serving thanksgiving dinner at a local soup-kitchen kind of thing. It’s a sit-down dinner and I usually volunteer to be a waiter, although I have in the past also enjoyed being a dish-washer. My family has volunteered the same place doing the same stuff since I was 9 or 10. Little kids just sit with people and enjoy a thanksgiving meal and folks who are not often able to be around kids enjoy their presence

  42. says

    We are still making up our traditions as our family is still pretty new. So far going to midnight mass is the thing I look forward to most every year. (That, and waking up to the baked French Toast I make just for Christmas Morning.)

  43. says

    Oranges in the toes of our stockings. And when my mom was growing up, they had a coal oven, so Santa would put a layer of coal on top of the goodies as a joke on Christmas morning.

  44. liv says

    decorating cookies with my mom and sister. we’ve dedicated a whole day to sugar cookie cut outs every Christmas season for as long as i can remember. now that i’ve got a daughter, she’s being included too, and i just love passing the tradition on. :)

  45. says

    I love that we get to start new traditions this year (and some last year). So far, my favorite is just that we open ONE present on Christmas Eve. That one present holds us all over until the morning!

  46. Erin says

    I’ve been buying Christmas books for my girls since the first was born 7 years ago. We got them all out last night and will read one or two every night before bed from now until Christmas. Last night “Auntie Clause” by Elise Primavera was the choice. I realized I must have purchased more than one each year though because while we should only have 14 books (one for each of my 3 girls per year) we have WAY more than that. This year I decided to pick a book that reminds me a little of what the girls were going through that year. For my youngest whose first word was “Bob” I chose a book called “A Snowman Named Just Bob” and wrote on the inside about how funny it was to see her calling everything (especially the family dog) “Bob.” Hopefully those notes from mom will be special when my girls are raising a family of their own.

  47. reen says

    My daughters each get new pajamas on Christmas eve, and they wear them while we have hot cocoa in front of the fire and read holiday stories. Prior to the holiday we also love to bundle up and stroll around our neighborhood at twilight, gazing at all the lights and decorations.

  48. says

    Awesome giveaway! thanks!

    My favorite tradition is collecting ornaments everywhere we travel, and being able to talk about the fun times as we decorate the tree with the ornaments.

  49. Melissa says

    My family has specific foods that MUST BE A PART OF CHRISTMAS…most notably the breakfast casserole. We only have it one morning a year, I don’t know why! We also read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” every Christmas eve before bed.

  50. Misty says

    We are giving the Daring Book for Boys to my 12 year old brother-in-law for Christmas. I would love to be able to give the Girls one to my sister-in-law!

    Our favorite tradition is making gingerbread houses. We started it a few years back, and now do it every year. My in-laws have a Christmas open house every year, so we do the gingerbread houses the weekend before, so the houses can be on display.

  51. Katie A. says

    We really enjoy taking our kids (now 3 and 2) caroling. We try to go to people that can’t get out much. The kids don’t really sing, but I hope it gives them the idea that Christmas is about bringing joy to those around them.

  52. christel says

    Hands down it would be eating chinese food on Christmas eve. Since my dad’s a pastor, things were always especially busy for our family on christmas eve and morning, and what started out as a convenience decision 30 years ago turned into a classic family tradition.

  53. Amy Michelle T. says

    We have a lot of traditions in my family, but one of my favorites is the one we started when my husband moved from England to the States just to marry me. It’s the tradition of the “Christmas Cracker”. Everyone gets a cracker and opens it to find a joke, a paper hat and a toy of some sort. The whole family has gotten into this and we wear our hats and read the jokes out loud at Christmas breakfast and dinner (each at different families’ houses).

    It’s been nice to incorporate this tradition into our family and I think (hope) it makes him feel just a little more at home.

  54. says

    We enjoy making the Christmas cookies. This is something we do with friends, and then share the cookies with our neighbors. It always brings smiles all around!

  55. says

    Melvin the Elf arrives at our house every year about two weeks before Christmas in order to report back to Santa how the kids have been getting along. He’s a small stuffed figure who turns up in a new spot every few days, and my kids are absolutely THRILLED to figure out where he’ll be next. I thought it was sort of creepy at first, a sort of “Santa Spy”, but my cousin-by-marriage assured me they’d get a kick out of it. Sure enough, every morning before the holiday it’s the reason they get out of bed, and it starts the season out with an air of fun and charm. On Christmas morning, he’s hitched a ride back to the North Pole on Santa’s sled, but he’s left a note to let us know he’ll be back next year…

  56. mircat says

    I love Christmas traditions, so it’s hard to pick. One that is simple and very sweet when the kids are small is to act out the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. My dad, now a grandfather of 4 and a wonderful sport, still ends up being the donkey that Mary rides on to Bethlehem. :)

  57. says

    Our children are almost 2 and 4 so we are still early in starting our traditions. So far we have enjoyed taking the kids to holiday horse parades, letting them decorate the tree and holiday baking. Plus the holiday music starts playing right after Thanksgiving and the kids are already recognizing the songs and singing them with us!

  58. Laura says

    Every year, our family goes to the Holiday Parade of Lights. We pack some hot chocolate and snacks, bundle up and watch the festivities. It’s always the first weekend of December, so it gets us in the Christmas spirit. (We went last night!)

  59. says

    My favorite holiday tradition is how my mom and I would go to my grandmothers (Her mom) on Christmas Eve, that was always a bit of a country Christmas – loud, Southern accents, good old Southern biscuts, playing tag in the house; and then I (now that my parents are divorced), would go to my dad’s mom on Christmas day, which was a completely different world. Quiet, still packed with family, but yet, more “upper class” than the other side of the family. Just seeing how my two sides of the family differed and how they were connected by me was something that I always thought about, but I still enjoyed this tradition that started 20+ years ago.

  60. says

    Ooooh, I can’t decide between two so will share both. Once December begins, we love putting ornaments on our felt tree calendar. One goes up each day until the star on Xmas eve. My wife loves decorating the real tree. Digging through the boxes of ornaments brings up wonderful memories of Xmas past.

  61. Matt says

    When father and his two brothers were young, their parents devised a way to make Christmas morning last a little longer. The parents (and eventually the kids) put rhyming clues on each gift, and the recipient had to guess the gift (or get close) before opening it. I have enjoyed this tradition all my life (both the guessing and writing of clues), and now my wife and I do it for our kids. Sometimes the clues are full blown epic poems, and other times they are just as simple as the name of the “person” giving the gift. A great way to enhance both the giving and receiving on Christmas.

  62. Darcy says

    Spending Christmas Eve at my inlaws house with the whole extended family all together. It’s complete utter chaos! And I love every minute of it.

  63. says

    I’ve had a stocking since I was little that has one tiny pocket in it…I always love finding out exactly what my mom devises to put in there, from tic tacs to a watch to gift cards to cash! I want to sew one into our son’s stocking so he can have the same experience!

  64. SJ says

    Driving around looking at all the lights. Usually once a year we drive through one of the “winter wonderland” displays and all the kids love it from age 8 to 8 months. But every time we are driving at night, we take a little longer to get home because we’ll drive through different neighborhoods and look at all the decorated houses. It’s free, it gets everyone in the spirit, and it keeps everyone entertained.

  65. Amie says

    We have a new one this year that we found last year from Chris’s site at In the Trenches of Motherhood:

    I wrapped up all of our holiday books on Nov. 30 (plus some extras, like a holiday craft flagged in the Toddler’s Busy Book) so I had 25. Then they all went in a basket. Pretty!

    Every day, my 3-year old gets to open one. Most days are stories, some are crafts or poems. You could supplement with your holiday movies or CDs if you can’t make it to 25. My son loves opening one thing each day. It helps spread out the season. Plus, a lot of the books have a Christmas message, so he is learning about the spirit of Christmas.

    Finally, I didn’t have to buy anything. (This is a very lean year for us.) I just used books we already had. Next year we’ll have some more books from Christmas presents this year. And, I used wrapping paper I bought on the cheap last year at the post-Christmas sales. If I hadn’t had enough I would have supplemented with dollar store paper. After the holidays this year I will stock up on more paper and probably a bigger basket if I find one I like at a decent price.

    I’m glad you asked this question. I was actually planning on sending you the link to Chris’s site in the hopes you’d promote it. We are having so much fun with this new tradition.

  66. says

    Because the holidays were a time of uber-stress in my birth family, my husband and I worked hard to create a peaceful holiday. On Christmas eve, we have a lovely dinner and then, after dessert, open gifts. It’s just our little family, and we’ve found there’s no Christmas let-down the next day. I leave the big dinners and Christmas morning extravaganzas to the rest of the family!

  67. Bill Kracke says

    The tradition I love is our stockings. The rule in my family has always been we wait until EVERYONE is ready to open gifts. Stockings, however, can be pulled down whenever you want. And so the morning tradition is the kids pile downstairs as soon as parents allow and tear into their stockings. A pair of socks or gloves, a toothbrush, a couple of small toys (mini lego sets, markers) and an orange in the toe. For me, it is an almost magical window of time – everyone is moving at their own pace, everyone is thrilled and content with very minimal gifts, there are conversations in every corner, and we are all snacking on oranges waiting for the whirlwind of gifts and brunch to follow, where we all drift away to different parts of the house. But those oranges and stockings draw us cozily together, if only for a few hours.

  68. Rachel says

    My kids love choosing the candles to put in the menorah.

    they also enjoy Christmas dinner with our celebrating friends. I’m not sure if that qualifies as simple, but it is family-centric.

  69. Lynn says

    One of my favorite traditions is food related. When I was growing up, we always had cupcakes with candles for dessert on Christmas (my mom’s way of reminding young kids that we were celebrating Jesus’ birthday). Unrelated to Christmas, my husband’s family had a great birthday tradition of making an elaborate fruit salad (“fruit bowl”) for breakfast on each person’s birthday. So we’ve combined these two together, and we now have a fruit bowl every Christmas morning.

  70. Janna says

    Making cookies! I’m so excited because this year, my son has gotten into making cookies, too (or making dough as he calls it).

  71. says

    Favorite holiday tradition: making cookies. As long as we use pasteurized eggs, my daughter can help with every part of the process from mixing to rolling to cutting to icing. it’s a great activity.

  72. Sarah says

    We’ve pared down the gift-giving in recent years, but one thing everyone looks forward to is the Yankee Swap. It’s loud, it’s contentious, and every year we squabble about the dollar limit, but it’s SO much fun.

  73. Erin says

    We watch A Charlie Brown Christmas on Christmas evening. It’s something cozy and relaxing to look forward to while hopping from one relative’s house to the next.

  74. says

    Decorating the tree at my moms! All of our ornaments have something special associated with them. There is a goofy paper and cotton ball Santa I made when I was a 1st grader, several 1st Christmas ornaments and lots of luv! I love how old, fancy, shiny and delicate they all are. I can remember applying each of them with my family over the years. Always a different experience for one reason or another but always fun!

  75. Karen says

    Midnight mass on Christmas eve, and then off to grandmom’s for a late late night snack and home for bed to wait for santa :)

  76. Michele says

    My family is from Australia, so the tradition is church outside on Christmas Eve followed by a big dinner of fresh seafood.

  77. says

    Okay- our tradition lacks class, taste, profundity, and style.

    Because we spent many a holiday driving to or from family, Jim and I have enjoyed an annual Christmas gas station hot dog for the past 13 years.

    We started eating them out of sheer necessity, but somehow it’s become a favorite tacky tradition. The hot dogs are as revolting as gas station hot dogs can be. They’ve usually seem to have been rotating on the perpetual grill since Christmas eve, 1969. And somehow, they’re always really tasty in their steamed buns (Christmas miracle? I think so).

    This year, we’re planning to celebrate Christmas at our house… but I’m sure we’ll make a visit to the nearest gas station mini-mart.

  78. charissa says

    I can’t pick just one! Decorating Christmas cookies, Advent calendar, fresh-cut Christmas tree, opening one gift on Christmas eve, and Christmas crackers after Christmas dinner (we picked that one up from my husband’s English family).

  79. Susanne says

    We do Advent each night with the candles and a reading, even singing carols…my girls love it! Thanks!

  80. divrchk says

    I’d love a copy of this book! I love decorating the tree and lighting the menorah the best.

  81. Taryn says

    Opening one present on Christmas Eve. The 1st year we were married my husband and I agreed to order sushi on the 24th. We each got each other a sushi dinnerware set for our Eve gifts without knowing it! It was very funny.

  82. Wendy Campbell says

    Nearly every year we go look at the lights on a funky street in Austin–37th, where the residents have put lights everywhere! At one house, visitors are invited to walk around their backyard and another neighbor decorates a bush in his front yard to look like a VW Bug.

  83. Becca Balmes says

    We go to Mass at midnight every Christmas Eve, which is the most magical time. Our oldest is two this year, so he’ll probably even be able to stay awake for part of it. :)

    On Christmas morning, the whole family gets together for gift-giving, and it’s the kids’ jobs to pull all the presents out from under my grandparents’ massive tree and distribute them around the room. Everyone gets a little pile, and we take turns opening one present at a time.

  84. says

    There are so many Christmas traditions I love, but I think my favorite is watching “A Christmas Story” on Christmas Eve and laughing (still, again, year after year after year) at little Ralphie and his crew. Love that movie. :)

  85. Jamie says

    Decorating the Christmas tree is my favorite part of the holidays… my grandmother used to let us pick out a few ornaments each year, and she would paint our name and the year on those ornaments. Each year it’s great to look and see what “phases” I was in… a few years of Minnie Mouse… then teddy bears, etc. I plan to do the same with my children- my daughter is 1 this Xmas, so we’re starting this year. Happy Holidays!

  86. Hot Wife says

    We have a latke (potato pancake) contest every year. The winner gets the golden grater (spray painted grater) until the next year. We have had some pretty creative latkes but the winner is always the traditional latke.

  87. says

    I love putting on christmas music, making hot cholocate and decorating the tree together as a family. It is really the best time of year.

  88. Suzanne says

    Every year on Christmas Eve, our family gets into our coats, hats, etc and we find a place in the backyard where we can see the stars without any interference from trees. Once we’ve picked our spot, we sprinkle “magic oats” for Santa’s reindeer (a sensational mixture of Quaker rolled oats and craft-store glitter). You see, the reindeer will smell the oats and see the glitter sparkling in the moonlight–extra insurance to find our house! By morning, helpful birds will have helped clean up the oats–adding to the who-ate-them(?)mystery! This next part only works if you have hardwood floors, a fireplace, and (I learned the hard way) no curious dog: If I have extra glitter, I sprinkle a bit right in front of the fireplace and then make one perfect footprint in them with my husband’s big Doc Marten boots. Magic!

  89. Rachel says

    Our favorite tradition is getting into our jammies with our favorite blankets, grabbing hot cocoa and candy canes and driving around looking at the Christmas lights. Free fun that my kids never bore of.

  90. says

    My mother remarried when I was in college. To help me and my brother get to know our new stepbrothers better, we started a tradition of playing board games on Christmas eve – we play different ones each year, but each requires some level of creativity, like Dictionary, Cranium, or our favorites, Wise and Otherwise (same principal as Dictionary, only with antiquated sayings) and Tabloid Teasers (again, same basic concept, only using tabloid headlines).

  91. Amy says

    Every year, the little ones get to pick one present to open on Christmas Eve. (Most years, there’s also a game under the tree that the entire family opens to play after dinner, too–always great fun!)

    There is much deliberation and some direction from the parents to packages that contain toys or books, so no one ends up with a sweater to play with all evening. In the rush to open a bunch of presents on Christmas Day, it’s easy to overlook individual gifts, so this gives them the opportunity to take it slower and appreciate what they have.

  92. says

    My daughter was too young (and too new- we had adopted her three months priori) last year to start any REAL traditions. But this year I have three I want to do:
    1) Best Cookie Ever, in which my husband and I try to out do one another by each baking two different kinds of cookies. We’ll have family and friends try them out as they come by, and whomever makes the BEST cookie will get the $100 Christmas bonus to spend on whatever he/she likes. (My husband and I usually put a $50 cap on spending for one another, but both of us decided that this would be a lot more fun and useful!) Gracie can join in on the baking when she’s older.

    2) Going out and looking at lights. Because we live in Florida, and there is actually an insane decoration contest in our town (like Las Vegas lights insane!), we can maybe do it on foot.

    3) I’ve GOT to come up with something for Christmas Eve. So whatever I come up with, that’s what we’ll do. Forever and ever ;)


  93. says

    When I was young, I got to open a present every year on Christmas eve. It was always a new pair of jammies and a stuffed animal. All 3 girls love doing this, and look forward to it every year.

  94. Jennifer says

    We have a stack of Advent-y books and we read one a night–or sometimes more!–all through December.

  95. Alex says

    We live down the hill from a very wealthy neighborhood where lots of houses are elaborately decorated–most professionally! We love to go on a family drive to look at the lights. It’s free and there’s no preparation.

  96. Stephanie T. says

    I’m not sure it’s possible to pick ONE favorite. Some of my favs are watching the movie White Christmas with my husband and singing along, eating Mama Terrell’s sticky rolls on Christmas morn while wearing pj’s with my husbands family and flying on Christmas day to go see my family and meeting them at the airport.

    Now, I just CAN’T wait!!!

  97. says

    Many enjoyable ones: making (and sampling) Christmas cookies, rediscovering the handmade tree decorations from years gone by, making our own cards…

    My favourite is sitting at the piano and singing Christmas carols.

  98. says

    Every Christmas Eve we open one gift each. It’s always pajamas – perfect for donning that toasty night and waking up in fresh flannel on Christmas morning. I love it!

  99. says

    Our family new-family tradition: Santa brings the tree while our son is sleeping (we can check the lights and curse without a three year old in the way) and then we decorate it together.

  100. Liz says

    My family has always enjoyed putting up and decorating the Christmas tree the most. Something about all of us working together to make the house beautiful!

  101. SelimaCat says

    No matter which grandparent’s house we go to, the morning before we leave, we open stockings in our PJs. It’s just us, the tree is lighted, there’s music…it’s calm. I love it.

  102. AmyS says

    My favorite tradition is picking photos from the past year and putting a collage together to send with the holiday cards. My daughter’s favorite is making ornaments to give to everyone she can think of!

  103. tami says

    Our favorite tradition is cutting down our own tree. It’s especially delightful if it’s snowing and we have to ski in to find one. We pick a new place to visit every year.

  104. Cindi Hoppes says

    Hello, Like many families, we have several traditions from my family, my husband’s and our own! Right now, I enjoy hiding the pickle ornament on the Christmas tree and the child who finds it first, get to open a gift first! Candle light service on Christmas Eve is always beautiful. I have been wanting this book for my niece. I hope I am a winner of one of the five copies. Thanks for the contest! Cindi

  105. MarcT. says

    Just good old-fashioned opening of presents and watching each others’ eyes light up with joy. Thanks!

  106. says

    We have several traditions at our home during Christmas. Christmas Eve we go to Mass and then come home and the children get to open one present which are usually P J’s. Then we play Bingo with the whole family. They win prizes and we usually play several rounds.

    We have lots of fun!

    I just saw this book at Sam’s club and thought it was such a great idea!

  107. sara says

    Like most, it is difficult to choose which Holiday tradition is our favorite. Being the Christmas fanatic that I am, I should have to choose turning oin the christmas music, decorating the tree, and watching my daughter get ‘holiday dressed up’ while dancing to the Christmas music. Always a touching way to bring in the holidays!

  108. says

    My favorite simple thing is adding our kids’ handprints to the tree skirt every year with fabric paint. We started this tradition the xmas after our now-7 year old was born, and now the skirt is filling up with brightly colored handprints from our daughter and 2 year old son.

    I will treasure it forever.

  109. says

    Every Christmas Eve night, we sit down as a family and read the Christmas story out of Luke. We did this in my family when I was a little girl, and now with my husband and two little ones. Simple and so special! Thanks for the drawing.

  110. Leslie says

    We make and frost Christmas cookies. Then we give them to our friends and neighbors. My daughter loves to decorate special cookies for her daddy and Santa.

  111. Naomi C. says

    My family has for quite some time started our celebrating by having a breakfast together. We, my four sibling & spouses, make the drive to my parents for a breakfast meal we call Skinny Winnies. These are simply Swedish crapes, but do they ever taste good when my dad makes them for us all! Put some butter on the crape, roll it up after sprinkling on sugar and you have got yourself a Skinny Winnie!

  112. Sara says

    Our favorite family tradition is going to our local Christmas tree farm the day after Thanksgiving to pick out the “perfect” tree! It was fun to read everyone’s traditions…It even gave me some new ideas! Thanks for the great giveaway…I’ve had my eye on this book for sometime!

  113. says

    My 5 year old daughter and I make “sparkles” to leave on the lawn so the reindeer can find our house. While her twin brother goes out and throws some down, my daughter seriously gets into it. She twirls and spins and spreads it everywhere. It’s very serious business to her and I love it. I think it embodies all that is wonderful about childhood and the magic of the holidays.

  114. says

    Its hard to choose which tradition I like the most. Here each year “santa” puts a new ornament on the tree for each child. On Christmas Eve the kids are allowed to open one present and its always comfy jammies. Then on Christmas morning, we all sit around the tree and take turns opening on present at a time. Opening presents lasts longer than 15 minute at our house. :)

  115. Katie says

    I would love to win a copy of this book! My family’s favorite holiday tradition is the way we spend Christmas Eve. First, we have dinner together as a family–usually something easy since we are attending the 7 PM Christmas Eve church service. After church (which includes the singing of “Silent Night” and candlelight), each person gets to open 1 gift. These gifts are always new pajamas and a new Christmas-themed movie. Then everyone changes into their new pjs and much picture taking ensues. Finally, we watch a Christmas movie, leave a plate of cookies for Santa, and rush to bed.

  116. says

    My favorite tradition is reading the story of Jesus’ birth according to St. Luke, before any other festivities, on Christmas Eve… A wonderful reminder of why we are celebrating this blessed holiday!

  117. Sharon says

    Lighting the Hanukkah lights. Nothing compares with the glow from the candles and the kids’ eyes.

  118. Heather says

    Every night after bath we make warm milk and drive around the neighborhood listening to Christmas songs & looking for lights. We leave a candy cane on the doorstep of the best house of the night with a little note saying we picked them as the best.

  119. says

    The most simple tradition in our house is the “taunting pile” – of course, this started before we had kids and I’m not sure that it’ll survive as the kids get older and understand what it is. But since we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas with lots of gifts, my husband and I wrap them up fairly early in the season and create a pile of gifts for each other, thus taunting the other person into wondering, “What the heck is that?!” We haven’t started with the kids yet, but I’m sure our oldest will have a thorough understanding of what’s going on next year and will get his own taunting pile. That’ll be the test- to see if Mommy and Daddy can withstand his pleas to open his gifts NOW.

  120. Amy says

    Listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas album. I can get really sick of the usual Christmas carols, but that album? We can all listen to it every night, and it always makes us feel so cozy and happy. We make sure to put it away as soon as Christmas day ends, to keep it special for the next year.

  121. says

    My husband and I always go to see one of our families during the holidays. He has a large family and it’s very traditional. I have a small family so we usually end up taking a little weekend trip

  122. says

    When I was a kid, my dad would be gone for several hours on Christmas Eve, and we kids never knew why. We always assumed he was out shopping last-minute. We found out years later he was bringing treats to people who had to work Christmas Eve – nurses, firemen, airport personnel. We thought that was such a cool idea that we do it now, too.

  123. Holli Margell says

    I know this may sound odd, but we really like Christmas Gift shopping. My husband likes to say that he’s really good at spending money:) And I just love buying gifts for people. Our son loves to shop: mainly be out and about with lots of other people. He loves all the Christmas decorations at the stores.

  124. Andrew Dorman says

    The holiday tradition that our family enjoys most is having a round-robin style reading of “The Night Before Christmas”. Everyone gets a page in turn, with lots of jockeying to be the one who gets to belt out, “Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!”

  125. Laura says

    I have 7 year old triplet girls, and our favorite Christmas tradition is attending a Santa Breakfast with all the other triplet families in the area. It is so much fun for the girls to see all the little babies and how much work they were when they were little!

  126. says

    On Christmas Eve, we all curl up on the sofa (grandparents included, if they’re in town) and read Sabuda’s pop up The Night Before Christmas.

  127. anna says

    Getting of the tree. We go to a tree farm, take a sleigh ride to the trees, take forever to pick “the one” take forever to try and get it on the car and strapped down safely, get it home and realize it’s huge…decorate it…..etc….

  128. Jody says

    Every year we decorate a surrogate Christmas tree out of something we already have around the house. One year, we had a Christmas ladder. Another year, a Christmas patio table umbrella. This past summer, my husband made a 7-foot tall tower crane out of bamboo for my son – and this will be what we decorate.

  129. Michelle Carter says

    My favorite is reading Santa mouse Where are you. I have alway done this with my children. The first thing they look for Christmas morning is the little gift with the yellow ribbon hidden in the tree

  130. Michelle Carter says

    My favorite is reading Santa mouse Where are you. I have alway done this with my children. The first thing they look for Christmas morning is the little gift with the yellow ribbon hidden in the tree

  131. suz says

    We have a few that are our favorites:

    -During the month before Christmas, before dinner, we go around the table and each person says either something she’s thankful for, something nice she can do this month, or something she would like to change and how that might happen (we alternate evenings with these ideas).

    -We play 20 questions with the ornaments on the tree, trying to guess which one she has in mind.

    -After we, the parents, take the lights and ornaments off the tree, the kids look to see if we missed any. If they find any, they get one dollar for each ornament they find. Over the years, this has created a fun game of them trying to hide ornaments when we are decorating the tree!

  132. Christina W says

    My family always opens pj’s on Christmas Eve at Ma’s house (though all the kids call her Gra-Gra). Though I am -ahem, 29- it never fails to be exciting. Now that we are all grown with little ones of our own – we still show up the next morning in our new christmas pj’s!

  133. says

    I make flannel pajamas for my kids every year–they get them on Christmas Eve at my parents’ house, and wear them home so they’re all set for pictures in the morning.

  134. hedra says

    Asha, check the comments in the review of the book as well, I think some of the giveaway comments landed in there…

  135. says

    My favorite tradition is decorating the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. I remember decorating with my parents when I was younger and now I get to decorate with my husband. My just turned 3yo is still a little young to help us, so this year we did it while she was in school – she was so surprised and excited when she came home and saw the tree.

  136. says

    Hands down, my favorite tradition is planning and implementing our giving for the season. I get such a great feeling out of it and I know the rest of the family does too!

  137. says

    My wife’s family has a tradition that I hope to usurp, now that we’re expecting our first. They’ve video-taped every Christmas day since their children were very little. It may sound a little tacky, and I know most people think they’ll never revisit those films, but two years ago I compiled the first set of videos onto DVD for my in-laws…suffice it to say there were more than a few tears as some relatives who had since past were seen, and everyone got to relive those magical moments, seeing toys they remember, etc. I’ll start taping our baby’s first Christmas, and maybe one day their spouse will surprise me and my wife with such a treat!

  138. says

    Well, it’s pretty common, but we enjoy playing dreidel for chocolate coins. Also eating donuts (not the jelly-filled kind, though). And making & eating sweet-potato latkes…clearly not losing weight, though!

  139. says

    Our favorite holiday tradition is opening one or two gifts each (well, the kiddos) on Christmas Eve. Usually the kids get new pajamas to wear to bed — and because they’re new, they look great for the unwrapping photos the next morning!

  140. Melissa says

    I love my family’s tradition of Christmas brunch – each family has a certain dish that they bring every year, and it is just such a wonderfully warm and yummy start to the holiday. I look forward to that meal all year round!

  141. CarolinaDivina says

    the simplest holiday tradition is making paper chains, popcorn chains and paper snowflakes for decorating our christmas tree – we all sit together and listen to christmas music or watch a christmas cartoon and drink mexican hot chocolate and enjoy each other’s company – that’s what christmas is all about

  142. Sweet T says

    our favorite tradition is just having the whole family together on christmas eve. no matter what’s going on, everyone makes it home for christmas eve.

  143. Lacey says

    Unpacking the christmas ornaments and telling the story of each one as we place it one the tree. This takes forever, but it offers a tremendous amount of satisfaction for the weeks that the tree is up. What a great set of comments!

  144. Rachel says

    A tradition we’ve had since my Mom married my Step-Dad is getting our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. We have breakfast, get bundled up, pile in and drive to the tree farm. It’s an event for the whole family, and we always bring the dog too. We wander around and debate over the best tree. “What about this one?” “No, there’s too many bare spots” “The top is crooked” It’s a fun tradition that we’ve all grown to treasure. This year was especially fun because we didn’t have snow yet and it was a bit warmer than usual (Wisconsin) so we were taking longer than usual to pick a tree. My sister said “the only reason we haven’t picked one already is because it’s not cold enough!” We finally picked two. One for the house and one for the porch – for the birds! Us kids always pile on the ledge of the truck for a family picture (there’s 4 of us – and all in our 20’s now). We go home and decorate the tree and bring out the rest of the Christmas decorations for the house. It’s loads of fun!

  145. Michelle says

    Going out to the tree farm and selecting our tree. Then getting it home and setting it up while listening to Christmas music and drinking hot chocolate. I love to take out each of the special ornaments and remembering.

  146. Beth B. says

    Our best tradition is opening a door on the Advent Calendar; it was handed down to me by my parents. My son (4 yrs old) loves it.

  147. Emily says

    Every year, sometime the week before Christmas, we drive around town and look at all of the Christmas lights on the houses. I used to do it with my parents and I try to do it every year with my family.

    PS – Happy Birthday ParentHacks.

  148. says

    We have an advent calender that has little boxes. Inside each box is a magnetic object that goes to make up the nativity scene. We sing a carol before each one.

  149. liz says

    Every Christmas morning, after opening presents, we head to our local diner – just us, no hulabaloo, no extended family, for a quiet cozy breakfast. I feel a little bad for the ladies working that morning, but they’ll be there whether we show or not, so we go and tip heavily. (As you always should with toddlers)

  150. says

    We enjoy the meal. Planning it, shopping for it, preparing it and of course, eating it!

    I’ve been reading for a few months and really enjoy your site. Thanks for being here!

  151. Mary Wells Pope says

    Of course, decorating the tree is our favorite part, but I would have to say that making something homemade to put on it- popcorn or cranberry strings, paper chains, ribbon ornaments- is the best part for all of us. My homemade goal for this year- a tree skirt for under the tree!

  152. Cara says

    It’s probably a tie between choosing our Christmas tree and acting out the nativity while we read the Christmas story on Christmas eve. I love ALL the traditions, however!
    And I REALLY want this book! It’s definitely on my list. :)

  153. says

    our best and most enjoyed family tradition would be during Chinese New Year where all family members gather together to toss the “yee sang” dish to signify abundance, prosperity, etc..

  154. Heidiho says

    My family always gathers on Christmas Eve and the adults wrap presents in a seperate room, and the kids are besides themselves with excitement. We always have sandwiches for dinner with the best cold cuts because we get a huge variety. Making the sandwiches together is a low key way to kick really begin Christmas, but I couldn’t have Christmas without it!

  155. regandbabe says

    My favorite and simplest tradition is picking out the tree! when i lived with my folks we would pile into the car and drive to the brooklyn terminal market (this huge place full of trees and spices and all sorts of stuff) and spend the day wandering around while my dad haggled over the price of a perfect tree…. when i got married i told my hubby we HAD to go to the terminal market… we drove around for about an hour trying to find it since my dad’s instructions were of the “turn at the old A&S” variety.
    we ended up taking the train into the city to get a tree (and taking the tree back home on the train watching the smiles on people’s faces)
    we have done this for the 3 years we have been together (two dating one married) and we still haven’t found the terminal market but i look forward to the happiest train ride every year…

  156. Lisa says

    We’re just starting family traditions for our 18 month-old but the one I love most from my own childhood is each child in the family making one ornament, marked with the year, to add to the Christmas tree and hanging those ornaments on the tree as the first added that year. It’s great to talk about making a particular year’s ornament or about a past Christmas celebration when those ornaments are used in later years!

  157. Amanda says

    Our favorite holiday tradition is attending all the parades around the city, and several car rides to see pretty lights :)

  158. says

    We’re working on building new traditions now that my son is two and is starting to grasp the concept of Christmas a little, but my favorite Christmas tradition is the candlelight Christmas Eve service that we attend at our church. It has always been very special to me.

  159. Elaine C. says

    My extended family gathers at my Granny’s house in Louisiana for Gumbo on Christmas Eve. Then we sit around the piano and sing carols. I think the general consensus is that the absolute best moment is when we sing the last carol, “Silent Night,” before opening presents.

  160. says

    I’ve been trying to win this book for my god-daughter everywhere!!

    One of our Christmas traditions is that my son chooses an ornament every year for his own tree (in his room) and we write the date on the bottom of it. Usually it represents something he really is in to during that year.

  161. says

    We haven’t really started too many family traditions. My husband and I have been married 7 years and our son is almost 2 years old. I do look forward to putting up the tree every year and I hope that my kids (I’m expecting our second in February) will enjoy making cookies and going to Christmas Eve service at church!

  162. says

    I just love getting out all the stuff for the tree and decorating. My daughter loves getting out her nativity and most of all putting the star on top of the tree. I crank up the Christmas music and enjoy!

  163. Tisha says

    My husband and I have reserved Christmas eves for ourselves (and now our children). No running around visiting family or friends one last time – just relaxing at home and maybe a bit of last minute shopping. Then we either go out for dinner or order in.

  164. says

    Honestly I think my kids enjoy those advent calenders the best during December. They look forward to it each year & then every day during December. I still buy them for my 24 year old brother, LOL. Hope to win, I’ve been wanting this book for my 2 daughters SO badly!

  165. Stephanie says

    Our favorite holiday tradition is always buying our Christmas tree on our wedding anniversary — that’s today! We’re headed to our favorite tree lot tonight.

  166. R says

    I wanted to start a family tradition just for my wife and kids. Two years ago I decided on adopting the English tradition of Christmas crackers. This has been a blast and my children really look forward to it.

    As much as I love the larger traditions of our family, it is wonderful to have something that is just for the four of us.

  167. jessica says

    well, being recently married and having a new baby, we are just starting traditions in our family…but I guess a must is Christmas eve service, especially since my hubby is the pastor!

  168. Karen says

    Our family enjoys driving around on Christmas Eve and looking at everyone’s light displays. We laugh, we are amazed and just have a great time.

  169. Desiree says

    We love baking cookies, listening, singing, and dancing to Christmas songs, all while decorating the tree! This is such a great time of year!

  170. Jeanie says

    My family really enjoys the first night of Hanukkah — we light the candle (my son’s first this year!) and play some holiday music, and dance!

  171. Heather says

    Our favorite tradition is to put some Christmas music on and decorate the tree together. We have an early dinner then sip hot chocolate for dessert while we decorate the tree. It really gets us all in the Christmas spirit and we love the fresh pine smell when we come in the house each day!

  172. Dan Penczak says

    Wow, you have a lot to read. We have numerous advent calendar style traditions. Each child has a paper chain that they can tear off a rung from each day, we have a wooden advent calendar with a treat/small toy each day. We also a calendar with a little rabbit that gets moved each day plus blocks that count down the days.

  173. says

    My favorite simple tradition is reading the first Christmas story from the Bible on Christmas Eve while sitting around the tree. It’s wonderful to reflect on what we have to be thankful for!

  174. Jill H. says

    my girls ove to pick out a new ornament to add to our collection each year, they pour over the Hallmark Catalog – and try to pick the “perfect” ornament

  175. shannon says

    we open christmas pjs on christmas eve. we did this with my mom for as long as i can remember, and now i’m so excited to do this with my daughter this year!

  176. caroline says

    my favorite holiday tradition is that my husband always picks a random day in december to do the tree completely while i’m at work so i come home to music blasting and the tree all finished. since i pick up from daycare, this year my son will get that same delightful surprise – i can’t wait!

  177. says

    Well, I’m not sure if I”m too late, back that’s okay either way.
    My favorite holiday tradition was one started by my father when I was a little girl. We read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve just before bedtime, every year without fail from the age of 3 until now. What makes this so special is that I still have the original book, complete with all the various markings I put in over the years. Though we live in different countries, we still webcam with my parents on Christmas Eve to read -the- book with our son. It’s a nice way to connect.

  178. says

    In our family, we have always had lobster for dinner, which we have on Christmas Eve. Then we usually sing some carols and sit around a fireplace, though this year, I haven’t gotten mine fixed yet. Next year I can add that part back in, I guess.

  179. says

    With my adult siblings, it’s sharing memories. Each year we pick a theme and send each other our stories and memories. This year, we’re sharing memories of our grandmother. Another time we wrote travel memories, another year Christmas memories, etc.

    As kids, we loved driving around to see people’s decorations, with a particular house we sought out every year.