03 December 2007

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.


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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 ;)


Opening one (and only one) present on Christmas Eve. And then the anticipation of Christmas morning.

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.

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

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.

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!!!

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.

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!

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.

I love sing carols

Making (and devouring!) waffles with strawberries and whipped cream on xmas eve!

We like to go to zoo lights at the Phoenix Zoo.

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!

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.

We really like lighting the Hannukah candles. Even my Catholic stepdaughter!

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!

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.

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

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

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

We make dog biscuits for our neighbors dogs and distribute them=)

I enjoy the Christmas shopping!! I love the search for the perfect gift!

Attending candle light service, it's a great moment to center and take in the season and the year.

We open gifts on Christmas eve. Church was always Christms morning. This tradition has been going for four generations.

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!

We love decorating the tree all together, then sitting back and enjoying it!

We like to drive around and look at lights at night.

(I'd SO love to be chosen to win this!)

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!

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.

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. :)

Acting out "Luke 2" is the best part hands down.

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.

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!

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

I still to this day spend christmas eve at my parents house and wake up and open presents like Im 5 years old (but now this year it will be me and Connor!) Its still just as magical to me as when I was little!

Im bloggin ya too :

Every Christmas we buy a new Snowman ornament for the tree. :)

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.

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.

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.

Listening to Christmas music while trimming the tree with our favorite ornaments.

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

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.

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.

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!"

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!

On Christmas we enjoy reading books together. If only we had a new book.

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.

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....

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.

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

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

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!

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!

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.

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

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.

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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

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.

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!

We love decorating Christmas cookies together!

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!

we really dig the advent calendar. oh, and driving around looking at Christmas lights.

Searching for the pickle ornament on the tree! It keeps the kids occupied for HOURS.

Our favorite tradition is decorating the tree.

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.

It's a simple one, but memorable: lighting the menorah.

I love sitting down with the kids and reading the books we have about the birth of Jesus.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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!

Baking, frosting, & decorating sugar cookies!!

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!

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. :)

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..

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!

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...

Choosing presents to give to less fortunate kids

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!

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

Lighting the menorah and making home made latkes.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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