A few weeks ago, I was invited to write a blog post for Blessed Is She about Advent and Christmas traditions to start as newlyweds. If you’ve been reading for awhile, you may remember that I’ve been subscribing to Blessed Is She for years, so to say I was honored to guest post for them is an understatement! While I was brainstorming ideas to share, I remembered a post I wrote during our first year of marriage about Christmas traditions we were thinking of starting, so today, I wanted to share a little update: the traditions that have become part of our married Christmases so far.
1. Baking one of my Grandma’s cookie recipes. My Grandma has about ten cookie recipes that are forever linked to Christmas in my mind–she bakes almost 1000 cookies every year, much to the enjoyment of lucky recipients! When we spend Christmas with my side, my family makes a handful of her recipes, but even if we’re with Dave’s side, I’ve whipped up a batch of one. It’s a little thing that makes me feel so at home, no matter where I am!
2. Popping a bottle of champagne on Christmas night. We specifically invented this tradition during our first year of marriage because we wanted to be able to do something every year that wasn’t dependent on a location or a certain number of people being present. Whether we’re at home, just the two of us, at Dave’s house surrounded by his relatives, or anything in between, sharing a bottle of bubbly is easy and fun!
3. Sending cards. This one is well-documented here on Something Pretty and I’ll be sharing our 2017 cards on Thursday! The tradition of sending cards is one Dave is a little reluctant about every year (haha!), but even though it’s time-consuming and a little pricey, sending and receiving cards are two of my absolute favorite things about the Christmas season, so we’re sticking with it :) My encouragement if you’re in Dave’s camp: there are SO many options out there for cutting down on time and money spent on cards! For example, Minted provides free envelope addressing, plus return address printing for a small additional fee, so once your addresses are loaded once, you can save a good amount of time over the following years. As for saving money, there are almost always coupon codes available for holiday card websites, and if you plan ahead well, you may be able to take advantage of Cyber Week deals as well.
4. Watching A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. We adopted this tradition from my parents, who used to put the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol on (on VHS!) every Christmas Eve after my siblings and I went to bed. As we got older, we began to join them, and it has become one of the most treasured traditions in my family. We also look for any and every opportunity to quote the movie throughout the year, so if you ever hear someone in my family say “We shall have a game! A word game!” now you know why :)
5. Setting Charlie’s shoes by the fireplace on St. Nicholas’ feast day. This is a new one we started last year for Charlie! He’s too young to understand it now, but we hope he (and any future littles ones) will grow up loving the tradition of setting out shoes to be filled with little treats on St. Nicholas’ feast day, December 6. In case you’re not familiar, the tradition stems from the stories of St. Nicholas (a bishop in Greece in the fourth century) throwing gold coins out of windows or down chimneys of poor families–most famously, to save a man’s three daughters from being sold into slavery. Such an incredible life story that deserves to be appreciated!
6. Lighting the candles of our Advent wreath. Right now, we’ve been doing this every Sunday, but next year, we really want to amp up our Advent traditions and fully soak in and appreciate the season of waiting before Christmas more. I love the idea of lighting the appropriate candles at dinner every night along with a prayer or song–these watercolor prayer cards caught my eye, and would look beautiful on display somewhere after each day.
There are also a handful of traditions we skipped this year–I’m convinced we don’t need to “do it all” in order to have a magical Christmas, especially if forgoing a few things means more peace and less stress for our family. We decided against putting lights on our house (it wasn’t worth the time while Dave was studying for a final, and we’re traveling for part of the month), we still don’t have an angel for the top of our tree (it isn’t the right year to invest in an heirloom one yet), and we decided against going to most Christmas activities we’d been eyeing in favor of saving some money on babysitting (instead, we drove around to see neighborhood lights, watched Christmas movies while drinking hot chocolate, and just spent time together at home!).
I’d love to know: what are your favorite traditions in your family? I’m always keeping an eye out for simple and meaningful ideas!