By Rachel Hoeing

Today and tomorrow we will share holiday traditions from friends and fans. We hope that they will give you some new ideas of ways to enjoy the holidays with your family. If you have a tradition to share, please comment below. We welcome traditions from all December holidays that our fans might celebrate! Enjoy the stories and photos below.


6096“My husband I brought this Nativity from Jerusalem over 20 years ago. Every year after Christmas Eve Mass, one of our children puts the baby Jesus in his crib. Last year it was our youngest granddaughter Abbie, this year will be our new grandson, Hampton.” ~ Cyndi G.




claire“Our traditions begin on Christmas Eve. We go to mass, go to dinner then the fun starts … Count down to 7:30am Christmas day morning. My kids always sleep together Christmas Eve no matter how old they get! They go to bed sooooo early and they leave beer for Santa and a shot. (You never know if he’s cold out there!) They leave a carrot and milk for Rudolph and a note for safe travels around the globe – they also get a note back. Our motto is, and will remain until I’m long gone, ‘If you don’t believe you don’t receive’…. It went out the window years ago but the kids and my husband still humor me.” Claire B.



image1(7)“Every year after Thanksgiving, my husband, our two children (2 years & 6 months), and I take a road trip up to Boone, NC to cut down our own Christmas tree. It has been a tradition in his family for many years and we have started it as one of ours. This year, 11 of us went! We always rent a large van so we can all ride together. We listen to Christmas music and spend the day together cutting down our Christmas tree.” ~ Alyson D





7637“Every year my family and I have a Christmas  movie watching party. We have pizza, drinks and desserts just like those featured in my favorite Christmas movies, Home Alone I and II and Elf, which we watch all evening. We  repeat our favorite lines from the movies, relax and my family gives me the opportunity to laugh over and over before my mommy holiday duties resume.” ~ Dennette B.




IMG_6982“In our family, each person lights their own menorah and then we take turns picking our favorite Chanukah song to sing.  This year, we played dreidel (a spinning top game) and instead of the traditional penny game pieces, we used M-n-M’s.  A delicious time was had by all!” ~ Dani L.






ENC 2013 031Twas the Night Before Christmas”

“This is a game we play during our big family gathering, usually on Christmas Eve. Everyone brings a wrapped present of any kind- some are gag gifts, some are the latest trend, some are generic items anyone would want.  We all sit in a circle with a gift in our laps and one person reads the story ‘Twas the night before Christmas.’ Each time you hear the word ‘and’ you pass your present to the right. Depending on the size of the group the presents will make several rounds and everyone tries to anticipate which one they will end up with. It’s a fun tradition because it involves both adults and kids and is a simple game everyone looks forward to.” ~ Pegeen K.


image1(8) IMG_2317“Our tradition for the last four years has been to plug all of the Christmas lights together and stretch them all around the house. We can not put the lights on the tree without doing this first.” ~ Katherine G.







bea“On Christmas Eve, we cook all day for the Christmas Day dinner. While cooking and baking, we watch Christmas movies but mainly cartoons. Well, later that evening, everyone must be in bed by midnight. On Christmas morning, the first person that wakes up has to wake everyone else up. And at that point, we our open gifts and then everyone meets at my mother’s house. We have practiced this tradition ever since I was a little girl and now I am 45! Happy holidays!” ~ Beatrice S.





7543“Every year my boys and I bake several different kinds of cookies and make peanut butter balls. We taste test them first, then put together packages with our baked goods and deliver to our neighbors” ~ Elizabeth D.




7479“Our family has several special holiday traditions: selecting our tree at a ‘choose and cut’ farm, hanging my grandmother’s vintage ornaments on our tree, baking chocolate chip pumpkin bread, reading our favorite Christmas books…

All of them are precious and dear. Yet my favorite tradition is watching ‘A White Christmas’ with my daughter. We watched it together when she first starting taking dance at the age of three. Eight years later, it is still as magical and wonderful as the first time we watched it. She curls up beside me. She watches the screen, singing every song by heart. I hold her tight, watching the wonder in her eyes, listening to the joy in her voice. At times she leaps up, following the choreography from memory. This embodies the spirit of Christmas for me: the sheer excitement and enjoyment of special moments spent with the ones you love.” ~ Hillary P



GEF_8471“We do an English tradition called ‘Christmas tree presents’ (my parents are English and I was born in England).  What we do is wrap up little gifts like shampoo, socks, hairbrush etc. and put them on the Christmas tree with a # on them (we usually have about 50 or so).  After dinner we get them off individually and see what # they are and match it up to a “master list” of who’s name is next to that number. All the gifts with your number now belong to you!” Elizabeth C.


kristen“When our oldest (now 16) was 2 years old, we started the tradition of inviting a friend or two over to decorate gingerbread houses.  We have continued the tradition over the years.  Each of our two daughters is allowed to invite a friend or two over and everyone decorates a gingerbread house.  It is something they look forward to every year. ” ~ Kristen B.






IMG_3223“Trimming the tree each year is like a walk down memory lane for our family.  My Grandmother gave me a Christmas ornament every year as far back as I remember.  So each year as we decorate our tree it reminds me of her and fills my heart.  And now my Mom is carrying on that tradition for my boys so they love putting up their ornaments too.  Our faves are typically the Hallmark ones because they often have a date and portray what we were interested in that year and what was hip in pop culture.  Merry Christmas!” ~ Marybeth B.





elf“Thinking about traditions realistically  … there are so many … the decorating, the Christmas  cards, the religious aspect, the foods,  the tree, but those are ours without regard to our children. Our adult children might have different wishes to be honored. As a grandmother, I now know that unless we change and adjust, we don’t really move forward with our families.  I remember Christmas Eve Mass and so many cousins, no presents because we were all so poor, but we didn’t know it. But as we move forward, what I remember is Mom falling asleep in Mass at 5:30 because she was so bone tired. She did it perfectly with my Dad but I now see how it taxed her, so thank you Mom!!  Now I move into her role. Do I knock myself out to do this, or take a step back and allow adult my daughters to make their own space as they feel safe and proud of their new traditions? They will become the matriarchs of the family. I need to prepare them well. My wish is to empower my girls with traditions that include more heart healthy recipes for their family, traditions they feel worthy, honoring Christ’s  birthday, giving to others this season.  It seems to be different in the planning nowadays. The perfect table with sterling and China set three days ahead has waned. And it didn’t matter. Perhaps that was too much time wasted with  two generations prior. We do share a family sour cream coffee cake passed down from Grandma Rose that we really love.  But, it changes every year and we embrace it as tradition. I say to all … Adjust as you need to, it’s not about your traditions but as you carry on with your family however difficult it may be. Change  is constant, watch yourself grow with change only if you are willing.  Remember what the Christmas season is about …the coming of Christ. Happy  2016 if you are willing to change!” ~ Patricia P.