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Monday, December 10, 2012

Motherhood Mondays: What family traditions do you have during the holidays?

What are your family traditions around the holidays? When we were growing up, my parents would light angel chimes at the dinner table, and the heat from the candles would make the angels spin around and ring the bells. That little "ding, ding, ding" sound still makes me feel so warm and cozy...

Toby is two-and-a-half years old, so this is the first holiday that he'll really understand. I've been thinking so much recently about the value of rituals, and I'd love to create some for our family. So angel chimes are the very first holiday tradition we're starting with him.

Does your family light angel chimes? (Apparently, angel chimes are actually Swedish, but they were introduced to America about fifty years ago.) What other holiday family traditions do you have? A big Christmas Eve dinner? Homemade stockings? Super spiked egg nog? I'd love to hear—and get ideas!

225 comments:

1 – 200 of 225   Newer›   Newest»
Sandy at You May Be Wandering said...

Hi Joanna - We have strictly all American traditions here - pretty typical with a menorah thrown in to honor my husband's Jewish heritage. You might enjoy my blog post from today that talks about the various versions of Santa around the world, especially because I am sure Toby is big time into Santa this year!!

Enjoy your day! xoxoxo

Dee said...

The angel chimes are so charming. I've never heard of them before now.

Manda said...

Opening a stocking stuffer every night for 7 days leading up to Christmas.

It helps lessen the Christmas Present anxiety that we would get from not being able to open the presents under the tree. :)

Love,
Manda @ Eat Cake

woreout said...

I've never seen angel chimes before, did you find yours locally or online? I actually posted about holiday traditions today too. This weekend I learned how to make kringle, a traditional Norwegian dessert, from my boyfriend's grandmother and now it's my turn to bring it to Christmas! I'm just a bit nervous.

pancakesandpoodles said...

This is a tradition in my family too! My dad did it when he was a kid and passed it on to my brother and I. We also always get/ trim the tree on my mom's birthday :)

Unknown said...

My mom, sister, and I always bake tons of cookies a few days before Christmas-- sugar, gingerbread, spritz, peanut brittle.... and then we spend a whole afternoon decorating the sugar and gingerbread cookies with homemade frosting. We end up filling the whole kitchen island with cookies! I love it!!
-Emmy

The Egg said...

growing up we my dad's side of the family all got together at my grandparents on xmas eve. santa would come and give each kid a present. THEN after dinner, we'd say goodbye to santa and line up on the basement steps where all of the elves had made our BIG presents. it was SO much fun!!

xo the egg out west.

Nomadic D. said...

When my dad remarried into a traditional american family from wisconsin we inherited a lot of their christmas traditions and I'm so grateful! We decorate cookies, we play charades, we line up in the kitchen in order of age before we can open our stockings, we have game night... All kinds of good stuff! Stuff that I hope to pass on when we have a family of our own.

http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

Jenny said...

Oh I love the idea of angel chimes! That sounds so magical =). My family goes bowling every Christmas eve!

Mary said...

Oh my gosh these pictures brought back memories! My mom had a slightly bigger version of these angel chimes, and I adored them! Any idea where you get something like that now? I would love to have one! (Gorgeous pictures, by the way.)

We are big on traditions. My mom made everyone's stockings - it was each grandchild's first christmas present. Stockings are the last thing we open on Christmas morning, and they are often the most fun! Lobster macaroni and cheese on Christmas Eve.

Belle on Heels said...

My sister and I always got PJs and an ornament on Christmas Eve and we got a "family gift" of a board game on Christmas morning. We always ordered pizza {a special treat for us!} and ate homemade fudge the night we decorated the Christmas tree. And on New Year's Day, we always made this crazy over-the-top delicious Candy Cane Cake using candy canes from the tree.

sk said...

My family always has champagne and escargots on christmas morning! Even at 31 years old, I still do not like the escargots, but I do love dipping the copious fresh french bread in the garlic-butte sauce!

Jessy said...

My family has a tradition where each Christmas I got a new ornament. Some years I picked one out and some years they were given to me by my mom or family friends who knew of our tradition. I'm now 27 and when I put up my own Christmas tree it is full of memories from when I was little and makes me smile. I cannot wait to do this with my kids someday.

365photos365days said...

I'm from the UK and this post really warmed my heart! We have Angel Chimes every year too (which is quite unusual in England - I've never met anyone else who has them!). As children it was a family tradition to sit round the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve night, turn off all the lights (apart from the Christmas Tree's that stayed sparkling in the corner) and light the angel chimes (we were never allowed to light them before Christmas Eve!). We'd then sit in silence and listen to the chimes and watch the Angel's reflections on the wall.
When I moved in with my boyfriend last year, I bought my very own set of angel chimes and we lit them on Christmas Eve together. Forget owning my own house, car, washing machine - it was at this point that I really realised that I'd grown up and was ready to continue my family's traditions and start my own :) x

aly said...

Christmas Eve was always my favorite as a little kid. Christmas day was/is all hectic and filled with the extended family but christmas eve would just be my mom and dad and me. We'd make cookies for Santa, my dad would make a fancy dinner and I could open 2 presents; the pajamas my pets got me (my mom would even draw little paw prints on the cards) and a new christmas book my dad and I would read before I went to bed. I'm 25 and I still get those pjs, and I love every second of it.

Daniela said...

I had them as a child. Thanks for reminding me of them. I'll buy a new set for my kids.

Frannie said...

We have a set from when I was a kid :) Nostalgia!!
I heard the ones from Amazon aren't a good quality, do you like them?

Natalie said...

We always have angel chimes, too, since we are Swedish :-) Beautiful photos!

Unknown said...

I love the angel chimes! I had also never heard of them before your post. For our family, we went to midnight mass at my grandfather's church almost every year. As an incentive to stay patient through the service, we were allowed to open one of our gifts when we got home before bed. It was really great because my sister and I would spend days picking which gift to open--weighing packages and weeding out the less exciting books in favor of the ones likely to be My Little Ponies or other toys. Then Santa would come overnight, we'd do the big present opening in the morning and then mom would make a big breakfast with biscuits, bacon and scrambled eggs (we still do this part). Then during the day, while mom made Christmas dinner, dad would take us to a Christmas day matinee, since there's not that much else to do that day.

My parents are divorced now, and I'm married and so have new traditions with my husband's family, but when we are home with my family we still have Christmas like this--with a little adjustment and more travel to share the holiday.

jean goddard said...

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without angel chimes! And remember yearly ornaments?

Klara D said...

With my dad having 4 brothers, all of us celebrate christmas eve and welcome christmas together every year at one of their/our home.. so our turn is every five years and it is really amazing because our whole family comes together (that's about twenty people) and there's more of us every year! i really love our tradition and hope to keep it alive for many more years to come..when we were little we got to open up presents at midnight and one of my uncles (or my father) would dress up as santa.. now the new generations are getting the gifts but it's still as beautiful as ever.

pranayama said...

My family celebrated the 12 days of Christmas, which actually start on the 25th and continue until Epiphany! We got to open a few big presents on Christmas Day, and then smaller presents every day for 12 more days. Kind of decreases the post-Christmas let-down. :)

Rachel S said...

When I saw that first picture, I thought Toby was holding tampons. Ha ha!

Erin said...

We had the same set growing up, but I never knew they were a "thing"! I just thought they were sweet. Now I'll be digging them out of storage and setting them up on our windowsill. Thanks for the reminder!

Nikki said...

Hey! Beautiful post! In my family we give each other new, festive pyjamas on christmas eve to wear to bed :) also, as a funny gift this year were buying the lamest christmas jumpers we can find and taking a super cheesey old fashioned family photo together! So funny!

If there's anyone who likes nordic things, ill be blogging a lot about scandinavian christmas traditions/belief/stories over the coming days. So please feel free to pop by the little nordic cabin :)

Abby said...

I love the idea of angel chimes. We always make plum pudding and set it on fire on Christmas night--it's a fun, slightly boozy way to feel festive. I'll be writing about that later this week!

megan said...

We pick out a new ornament every year. See Christmas lights with the grandparents. Eat French dip sandwiches the day after Christmas at Phillipes in downtown LA. I also started an advent for my son last year when he was 2 1/2. Some days we bake or make decorations for the house, some days are bigger activities like donating a toy, seeing Santa, picking out a tree. I feel like that way we celebrate the season longer. Starting family traditions is so fun and special!

girloliver said...

I too love this and with two tiny ones love the feel and foundation of starting to show them our traditions. Mostly pretty basic: cookie making, opening one present on Christmas Eve - but the one I still like the most is when we are decorating our tree to have the Bing Crosby Christmas album playing - it reminds me of my childhood. Love the angels - I have never seen that before!

Alex said...

I'd never heard of those, but they're darling. I'd like my own!

We always have two Christmas trees (one for my mom's preferred white lights and one for my dad's favorite colored lights - guess which ones our kindergarten homemade ornaments go on?) and constant Christmas music playing, and a fire going all the time. I can't have any of those things in my teeny apartment, so Christmas always makes me a little homesick!

Breanna said...

I LOVE angel times. This is the first year I won't be at my parents' house for Christmas, and I am going to miss them dearly. I can't seem to find a set for myself.

I am a huge fan of Christmas traditions. My family always goes to church on Christmas Eve, comes home and watches a Christmas movie or reads a Christmas story (yes, at 23 I still like it when my dad reads me a story), and sets out on stockings. Then on Christmas day we open stockings and then eat a brunch of German potato pancakes and bacon, open presents, and eat a big Christmas dinner. Just thinking about it all makes me warm and happy inside!

Jay said...

I have never heard of angel chimes!

Our family orders Chinese food for Christmas Eve. We each get to pick a favourite dish and we feast on that and play games. When we were kids, we also got to choose one present to open the night before Christmas. I still look forward to the Chinese food!

LaurenMax said...

Joanna,
This is beautiful. I didn't know about angel chimes, but I adore the idea! Our favorite Christmas tradition, thus far, is our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, which I originally got for John because he grew up loving Snoopy, and because our first apartment together was so ridiculously tiny it was all we had room for. A photo is on my blog today.

These photos of you three are fantastic, too.

xo.
Lauren from Flee to the Cleve

perec said...

i used to adobe the tree on the 8th of december, waiting for my mum to come from northern italy to rome, to stay with me for xmas. since she's dying, i'm going to do this, and adopt yours, for the forthcoming years. the bells will remind me of the sound of her voice.

hooleywithaz said...

we always lit the anegl candles! my family is czech, but i never knew they were swedish originally. my family goes to mass on christmas eve every year, (now me with my husband) and we get new christmas pajamas to open that night so we can sleep in them and open gifts in them on christmas morning.

Kirsty said...

Oh I LOVE this! Growing up in South Africa we had the same chimes-I would love to get some for my kids, could you tell me where you got yours please?
We have about a million traditions, we were just saying that it is a bit out of control, but we love them all.
A few of them photographed and described in this post:
http://momedy.blogspot.com/2011/12/its-beginning-to-look-lot-like.html
(scroll halfway down) :)

Anna Culp said...

We do angel chimes! We have that exact one. My mom carried the tradition over from Finland--I've never seen anyone else with them. Neat! Other traditions for my little family with a 2.5-yr-old include eating a chocolate advent calendar, doing 12 little activities before Christmas (drink cocoa, read a Christmas book...), and reading Luke 2 by candlelight before a traditional Finnish Christmas meal.

Melinda said...

living in Switzerland - we have gotten into baking cookies and advent calendars - i think a little safer than playing with fire ;) haha! and with the advent calendars it doesn't all have to be about chocolate either, you can put little nick nack stuff in there - hot wheel cars etc.

IndigoBlue said...

My daughter and I had the brass angel chimes and now a wooden set with carved figures from Germany (no noise, though) that a friend brought us. We light one candle each Advent Sunday. The anticipation...the movement getting quicker as Christmas approaches...is part of the Advent-to-Christmas experience.

Becky Friedman said...

My husband and I started a new tradition for our first Christmas last year. We picked out a children's Christmas book and wrote all our favorite memories from the year month by month (ie, January - family ski trip, June - GET MARRIED!, etc.) in the front cover. Eventually we'll have a big stack to pull out with all the Christmas decorations each year. We just went shopping for our 2012 Christmas book this weekend, complete with hot cocoa and scenic detours to enjoy Christmas lights on the way to and from the bookstore!

Clare said...

Every year my Mom buys a new Christmas book (like Polar Express, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, The Clown of God) and on Christmas Eve, we sit around the living room each reading one book to the whole family. I'm almost 30 and to this day, we still do this and I love it. My Dad always wins for best character voices :)

thekittchen.com said...

My favorite tradition is receiving new pajamas on Christmas Eve. This way we would be wearing nice new pjs in our Christmas morning photos. Santa's elves would bring us new pajamas and a Christmas book. This tradition still continues now that I am in my late 20s. My husband loves getting his Christmas Eve pjs every year. When we were little we would put our pjs on and my Mom would read us the Christmas story. Over the past 30 years we have built a beautiful collection of Christmas books. Now we display them around the house at Christmastime.

Chloe Moon said...

I've been following your blog for like ever & I can't believe Toby got so big!! He is so cute! My family tradition is that we always watch March of the wooden soliders together & we make cookies & we always go to midnight mass! =)

Ergo - Blog

Cheryl Hurley said...

Christmas Eve dinners! Growing up, my family gathered for a huge spaghetti dinner (followed by rum cake, naturally) each Christmas Eve. Now that I've met my better half, we decided to continue that tradition but with his family.. This year, we're planning an enormous Christmas Eve feast, followed by our gifts to one another. Then mayhem at my parents' house the next morning!

Cheryl
http://thestylistquo.com

Alice Bonton said...

It's also a family tradition and as my sister brought me one from Sweden I have now my own Angel Chimes at my place :)))
The 4 candles represent the 4 sundays before Christmas (advent sundays) and if you follow the tradition you have to light the 1st candle on the 1st sunday of December, on the second sunday of December you light 2 candles, etc...

Alyssa said...

My mom and I decorate the house the day after Thanksgiving and listen to the latest Starbucks Christmas CD. That's been a recent tradition since I've been in college (and now that I'm graduated.) One of my favorite traditions is that no matter what type of dessert we have on Christmas night-cake, pie, or cookies- we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. We feel like it's a nice way to remember that meaning through everything.

jm said...

Wonderful pictures of your family!

Shelley said...

After we stopped believing in Santa our whole tradition changed to a much more awesome version in my opinion.

We switched to Christmas eve - we invite friends and family over for a really relaxed fancy sandwich making buffet and all sit around the fire...lots of champagne and wine

then they usually head home around 10 and just my immediate fam is there to all pass out presents and open them really slow just all hanging out and drinking. It's a very grown-up Christmas. The next day we get to sleep in and hang out. I go to my fiance's parents for their Christmas morning - they still do a super traditional Christmas.

I can't wait to make all my own traditions with a family.

Céline said...

Hi Joanna,

I don't know if you have this in the US, but in the region I grew up in the north-east of France, Alsace, we celebrate what we call Saint-Nicolas, on December 6th. In the evening, the whole family gathers to eat "manalas", a brioche that has a shape of a little man, gingerbread, tangerine, and also a lot of hot chocolate! This means for me the beginning of Christmas time and even if I'm 29, I'm still looking forward to this evening every year...
Here a picture and the receipe (in french, sorry...) of the "manalas".
http://cuisine.journaldesfemmes.com/recette/309615-manalas-de-la-saint-nicolas

Happy holidays to the three of you! And thank you for your great blog, that I've been following with great pleasure for the last two years...

Céline

Shelley said...

I love the singing to Jesus! that is awesome. I'm going to make that my fam tradition someday :)

Tara Levesque said...

Our first real Christmas together I was SO intent on creating some kind of tradition for me and my then boyfriend (now husband). I had this plan of us eating this elaborate fancy meal on Christmas Eve and how it would be so romantic and grown up of us. Anyway, the holidays got away from us and Christmas Eve arrived without us having planned anything or shopped for any ingredients etc. We ended up having a huge fight with me saying stuff like "Why do you hate tradition??? What's wrong with us??" and my poor partner trying to understand that the heck was wrong with me. So because of our lack of planning and lack of food in the house we ended up eating a dinner of oven appetizers and hummus. Now, 10 years later, as a result of that night, every Christmas Eve we eat a dinner of oven appetizers and snacks. And I love it.

Kari Shimmel said...

Your blog has been one of the voices who has helped me find my way as a new mom (LOVE your series on working moms). My family lives all over the US and every Christmas we travel somewhere to get together and have homemade pineapple muffins, french press coffee and after breakfast we sit as a family and read a passage from one of the gospels on the birth of Jesus. We open presents only after we go around and say how thankful we are. I love how we connect as a family and even as a kid, I looked forward to feeling this love more than opening presents. Can't wait to share this with my family now...

Lauren Ashley said...

I've never heard of these, but I love them! I've also been thinking about traditions (tis the season I guess). I grew up "casually" catholic and married into a jewish family - we don't have kids yet, but talk a lot about how we'll honor both sides when we do. Currently, we kinda do a low key version of all the biggies - we're celebrating Hanukkah right now, making preparations for Christmas, then in the spring we celebrate both Easter and Passover. So far so good!

Melanie said...

This such a nice tradition. This is actually the first time I've ever heard of these Angel Chimes. They sound magical!

Carol said...

Since we always went to in-laws for Christmas, the night before was my special family time. I would make a fancy dinner, and we would invite our friends who were single or who had no family to go to. It was always my most favourite dinner party.

Alexandra said...

Like some other commenters, one thing I have LOVED continuing with the kids in my life is the Christmas Eve Pajamas. Every year we would go to a candlelight service at church on Christmas Eve, then we’d go home and open one gift each. The gift was always a new set of pajamas – some years my mom made them herself but some she bought them from a super-comfy store. We’d all change into our new PJs and it was like the starting gun for Christmas. We would put on the PJs and beg to go to bed as soon as they were on, because by then we knew that the only thing between us and Christmas was sleep. Then we’d lounge around in our new comfy PJs all day on Christmas, and look cute in all the photos to boot.

Last year, I randomly stumbled onto pajamas in the telltale striped pattern I remembered from my childhood and I texted my mom and said, “Hey, those awesome comfy PJs you’d always buy us? Were they from Hanna Andersson?” She was like “YES!” so I bought some and now the tradition of ultra-comfy PJs on Christmas Eve lives on.

When I was really little I thought it was totally amazing that every year, the gift my parents picked out totally at random from the pile was the Christmas PJs. I thought that it was, like, proof that Christmas actually is magic after all – that my parents could go and deliberate and painstakingly decide which present to have us open, and it would ALWAYS be the pajamas. Obviously they knew which gift was which, and chose the pajamas intentionally. I was not really the smartest child. But I may have been one of the happiest. ;)

megan said...

My mom always put a mandarin orange in my stocking, always, always. Right at the top, so that was my first thing to eat every Christmas morning.
Then, we would open presents and have Christmas Morning Wifesaver, the best Christmas brunch! I pretty much refuse to eat it any other time of the year. http://www.food.com/recipe/christmas-morning-wife-saver-68493
Honestly, I could go on... but they are all edible traditions!

macaca grava-por-cima said...

OMG you made me go back 30 years to my childhood! There was one of this angel chimes (exactly like this one) in my parents house! For me it was Christmas when my mother put this in the centre of the living room table. Writing this with ters in my eyes Joanna! Thank you

Corrie Anne said...

Those are gorgeous! I've never seen them before. How fun!!!

margaux said...

oh, how i love christmas traditions. i think we had something similar in our house growing up too, but German wooden one. a few others that i'll likely continue with my daughter: 1. we always got a new pair of pajamas to wear on christmas eve 2. we got to open one present on christmas eve. 3. my mom always made yorkshire pudding to be served with christmas dinner. 4. we always had an advent calendar. i'm looking forward to making a cloth one with a little treat/gift for every day for my daughter when she's old enough to appreciate it. 5. a tradition i started a couple of years ago is to go to the post office and pick out a letter that a child in need sent to santa and getting them something from their list if not all of it. (you'd be amazed how many of them ask for things like iPads! not in this santa's budget!) i love doing this, and i plan on involving my daughter some day.

@Belle on Wheels, i love the idea of making a candy cane cake on new year's day with the candy canes from the tree! brilliant! who can eat all of those CCs otherwise!?

Katelyn Marie said...

My parents were never that big on holiday parties to begin with but as my sisters and I got older, they wanted to spend that time with us, not rushing off to parties without us. So when I was 10 (and my youngest sister was 5) we started a tradition of going out to see a movie on Christmas Eve. It's been amazing to see how this idea has grown in popularity; when we first went to see Mousehunt in 1997 there was barely anyone in the theatre. Now when we go, the theatres are always almost full! Regardless, it's still something we love to do and it's always fun to remember and talk about those movies that we've seen together over the years.

Hitha said...

We treat ourselves to a fancy dinner and The Nutcracker each year - this year, we caught the ABT's production and dined at Antica Pesa in Brooklyn. It was a wonderful night!

little lady said...

I love this! Our family (which is now giant) does something together every year whether it's caroling, or this year, working at a soup kitchen. My mom & I always stay up late on Christmas Eve and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" - I've watched it 4,000 times and *still* cry every time.

www.littleladyinthebigapple.blogspot.com

Signorina M said...

I am a huge fan of Christmas traditions too! And at the moment we are creating our own traditions with my husband, and at the same time combining Finnish and Italian traditions! :)

In Finland angel chimes are very popular! And they are part of Christmas decoration. Other Finnish traditions are advent calendars (this year my husband made me one!), baking and decorating cookies (ginger breads!), making a ginger bread house, drink mulled wine and lighting one candle each Advent Sunday. On Christmas Eve it's very common to visit cemetery to wish merry Christmas to the loved ones that are not with us anymore. Essential part of Christmas Eve is also Christmas sauna!

Jennifer said...

Such sweet photos:)
~Jennifer

shayna said...

My family had the exact same angel chimes growing up. It's fun to see that other people have them also.

tawnya said...

Growing up (and now with my son), on Christmas Eve, we go out to look at lights (which has morphed to eating out. Much colder here than my home town!) and while gone, one of Santa's elves leave a board game unwrapped under the tree. When we get home, the game is the distraction (and family fun!) needed until bed time.

eileen ragan | leanerbythelake.com said...

my family has our main Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve, which is a Slovak tradition passed down from my maternal great grandparents. we go to evening mass and then have a big fancy (and meatless - that's tradition too ) late night dinner followed by desserts and opening presents as a family around the tree. the whole thing usually lasts till 1am! Christmas morning and day, we receive Santa presents and my mom cooks a big Christmas day lunch. i absolutely love the Christmas Eve celebrations and will certainly carry them on in our family.

i'm certainly one for nostalgia. as i've grown older, i've realized how important my childhood memories have been in making my own home and family traditions. somehow, over time, "childhood nostalgia" has become a big part of my writings and personal reflections.

www.leanerbythelake.com

brooklynash said...

does leftover pie for breakfast on december 26 count as a ritual?

no really, my family hosts a get together at my parents' house on december 23 every year. we hang out and drink and eat and are merry, then santa shows up with gifts for all the kids! and he sits in the living room and pulls the gifts out of his bag one by one, and to get your gift you have to go sit on his lap. inevitably there are photos taken, so i basically have a photo of myself sitting on santa's lap every year since i was born.

it's a great extended family/friend tradition, and it's wonderful for the kids because they get their own private hangout with santa!

ps also i've gotten a toothbrush in my stocking every year since i can't even remember when. perhaps because my mom knows we'll be eating nothing but pie for the next three days?!

Jill said...

I love e picture of you and Alex, waiting for Toby's reaction. This epitomizes parenthood for me!

Shelley Orr said...

I had forgotten about angel chimes. I remember being fascinated by them as a child.

Janet Hendrick said...

Decorating the tree. We have collected ornaments since my daughters were born, from places we travel, towns we've lived in, and other venues. Ialso give them each an ornament every Christmas. I'm always amazed and completely delighted at how much they enjoy going through the boxes of wrapped ornaments each year, finding "their" ornaments, remembering where certain ornamenets came from, and hanging them while reminiscing. It's my favorite of our Christmas traditions! They also get new pajamas every Christmas Eve and would be devastated if they didn't!

Suzette said...

This post already made my day seeing Toby doing his thing! ;) Such a cool kid. With living in another country away from the family for decades, I soon created a new family with my neighbors and each year we gather together outdoors under a tent, and sing carols with each holding and playing an instrument of choice (i play the tambourine). We read parts of the bible in between and sing some more and then have a grand eat-fest (everyone brings a dish to share) I could not ask for a better family!

Parks said...

My friend has an "elf on the shelf". The little elf sits in a new place every morning and reports the kids' behavior back to Santa every night. Her kids wake up looking for the elf and try to be very good all day.

http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/elf-book/?bnrid=3518538&cm_ven=Google_PLA&cm_cat=christmas&cm_pla=Christmas_Books_Games&cm_ite=The_Elf_on_the_ShelfR_Boy_Elf_Light-skinned&adtype=pla

Laura. said...

we had angel chimes! my mom also worked on personalized cross-stitch stockings for YEARS, so mostly our stockings were just our dad's big wool socks, ha! but my mom did buy us an ornament each year because she remembered being a broke newlywed with ZERO christmas decorations and no money to buy them. i think i will carry on the tradition, maybe now buy ornaments that fit my grown-up taste :) but i still love the crafty 80's ones (mostly with my name on them??) this is the first year i've ever bothered with a tree in my tiny apartment by myself, which is a new tradition i'm going to have with myself because it's so wonderful to have a decorated house! i have decided it's good to have traditions, even if i'm the only one to have them with. so there.

theworldaccordingtojean said...

My sons (now teenagers - yikes!) and I decorate the house together and the tree - and go to our midnight church service together - but the one little ritual we still do is I have a "pickle" ornament for the tree, and on Christmas Eve, I put the ornament on the tree somewhere - and whoever finds it on Christmas morning after we open all the gifts - gets an "extra" gift! Kind of fun, and amazingly - they still like to do this. My sixteen year old said the other day - "don't forget the pickle, Mom".

artemis said...

We had these at christmas too! I was told that when the chimes get faster, it meant that Santa was getting closer. I used to squeel with excitement. I still love them now, and have got some for my duaghter but she is only 8 weeks old, so I doubt she will understand ; )
xxx

artemis said...

please excuse the typos btw!

domonique matthews said...

Beautiful. I'm ordering one today!!
Advent is a special time in our home. We light candles on our wreath at dinner. My kids favorite is I wrap up 24 Christmas books and we read one each night. Here's a link to my post on it. With a list of some of our favorites. http://abowlfullofsimple.com/our-top-10-childrens-holiday-books/ A new tradition we've started is 24 days of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. You can read about it here if you like http://abowlfullofsimple.com/random-acts-of-christmas-kindness/

Jack Till said...

My family has been making Tom and Jerry's as long as I can remember. My grandpa made them with raw eggs but my Grandma refuses now that he's passed. So we buy a frozen batter that's equally as good from the grocery store in Wisconsin. I make them for my holiday party but in California no one has heard of them unless they're much much older and grew up in the midwest. I've found that this recipe is fantastic! They take a while but they're soo good! I also top with fresh ground nutmeg before drinking. I figure that a shot of alcohol will kill any bacteria that might live in a tablespoon of the batter!


http://allrecipes.com/recipe/tom-and-jerry-batter/

Gardise said...

Wow there is so many things, I love these chimes.
In Germany our traditional wooden pyramids would be similar to these angel chimes. These usually do not ring bells though. But the old fashion ones with various levels would be presented to people at whatever age and then new tiny wonderful wooden figures (e.g. miners, forest or biblical scenes) would be given as gifts every christmas these get inherited of course as well. I love these.
Other family traditions I loved: the advent calenders I made with my mom, which she then filled with little toys or a candy every night for me to find the following morning between 1st and 24th of December. I loved my fun advents books, which had a new adventure to be read every night.
Baking gingerbread and listening to the same xmas tape everytime;b with my parents...and then finding/ climbing up to and opening the well hidden results BEFORE they were offered at the Advent sunday tea (when eachtime one more of the 4 candles on the wreath made of fresh fir decorated with cones and (glued) berries or fruit from our garden and cinnamon sticks + some more cute decorations.
Then there was Nikolaus, when we polished our shoes and hoped for candy if we were good kids instead of a green rod (for birching the bad kids, don't know anyone other than my mum, who apparently once was given a rod;b).
Christmas markets of course, as little ones we loved the rides and all the candy, now I scive for presents (wooden figures for pyramids;b) and will have a few mulled wines or other hot beverages:)

Choosing the tree with the forester. My mum banned everyone else from decorating, as that is her thing. On Christmas eve, she would again ban everyone from the good (living) room to arrange the colourful plates for everyone (with lots of candy, chocolates, little schnpse (for the grown ups)a chocolate Santa for everyone.
The big food preparing for Christmas day and my dads Birthday on Boxing day would be going on so on christmas eve there would just be potato salad and frankfurters before we would move into the good room and have "Feuerzangenbowle" (children's punch for the little ones) and have "Bescherung", someone being dressed as Santa will handout the gifts after poems or songs have been presented by everyone and he found everyone to have been good;b. Usually until bed time there is lots of play and trialling by the little ones or a kids movie, later we usually go on to the "Feuerzangenbowle" movie from the 40s.

Usually Christmas day will be spend home, with my mum finish roasting the goose and that will be the main christmas feast.

I don't think too much will ever change on this, but will look out for the angel chimes now:), thanks.xxxg

AJ said...

Goodness. Our traditions are not necessarily traditional, but I love them.

We always have "appetizers", more like cocktail party food, as dinner on Christmas Eve. This was to lessen the amount of cooking on Christmas Day and also because it kept us from filling up with snack food before a big meal!

In the morning, we have to take a picture of all the kids or grandkids in front of the tree while the presents are unwrapped. My parents have been doing this for 40 years, so it is amazing to see the progression of our family. My mom bakes monkey bread while we unwrap our gifts. She codes our presents with a secret code, so you never know which ones are for you until Christmas morning. It was super fun never really knowing until the morning you got to open them. We also go in order of age opening presents, one at a time, starting with my Dad and ending with me. At the end, everyone starts to hoard their presents a little so as to be the last one to open a gift.

We also started a new tradition of a Secret Santa joke gift for the adults. One person buys a cheap gift (<$30) and we draw the name of the recipient on Christmas morning. That person then buys next year's gift. Only been two years now, so we'll see how it continues.

Your angel bells look lovely. We have a German windmill that is similar and I am excited for our daughter to help us learn new traditions along the way.

(Our daycare provider is Jewish and does a Tzedekah box with her family that we are contributing to this year. We might pick that up as well!)

hello. said...

we watch the movie elf + my son and daughter each choose a gift for a boy and a girl their age for the gift tree in town each year.

my mom makes lumpia, which is like a filipino eggroll for christmas day. she only does this about once a year, so we cherish it. this year my kids will be helping her make it :)

the angel chimes remind me of the german nativity carousels, that i've always admired as a child! so charming :)

Ellies Wonder said...

I LOVE angel chimes. I have never met anyone else that used them. :) Growing up as a missionary kid in Papua New Guinea our angel chimes were one of only a few Christmas things we had. They hold a special place in my heart. I'm so glad to see someone else using them.

Ellies Wonder

alisha e. said...

We have an 11 month old, and I've been passionately planning our little family's celebration. Since he is so young, I feel like this year is a dress rehearsal:)
Santa will come to our house mid-December, and I think I'll make huevos rancheros and irish coffees. I'm hoping for a cozy weekend of sledding, playing, and napping before we travel to celebrate with our families.
Since my husband and I aren't religious, I would love to start a winter solstice tradition. Maybe a candlelit dinner of hearty soup and bread with hot chocolate and stove-top popcorn.

Kiley Kate said...

Within the past few years my mom was bemoaning her mother's traditional Christmas Eve feast and how nice it was to have that sort of sit down family meal. Not wanting to put in the work of Thanksgiving Day proportions, we started making Mexican food, usually tacos or enchiladas, to make Christmas Eve more casual for our family. It's silly but it's one of my favorites.

Jennifer F. said...

We always (even today in our 20s) would open the presents from our parents on Christmas Eve. Included in this gift would be new pajamas. Then, we'd wear those new pajamas to bed and on Christmas day we would get "Santa" gifts.

Thinking about it now, the pajamas were probably a way for my mom to ensure we all looked as nice as we could for Christmas morning pictures.

Also, my mom always had a tradition of never wrapping "Santa" gifts. Obviously, this was done so that it was easier on her and my dad, but we were always told that the gifts came right from Santa's workshop and they were too nice to be covered in wrapping paper.

candace said...

OMG, I have that exact angel chime on my mantle right now - mirroring the one my mom brought out every Christmas when I was growing up. The tinkle, tinkle sound is so sweet, and so Christmas to me. Love that others enjoy it as much as I do! x

Gabriella said...

The angel chimes are lovely! I would have been fascinated with those as a child. Besides the tree-getting and tree-trimming (while listening to medieval and Renaissance Christmas carols), my family had the tradition of visiting a few places decked out in holiday splendor -- there was a castle near where we lived that was always magnificent. Also, my dad and I would turn off all the lights except for the Christmas tree and listen to "The Hobbit" on tape for a few nights before Christmas. And we would always visit NYC to see the beautiful streets and windows -- and now I live here!

lia said...

I always had angel chimes growing up too! (Because my dad's half Swedish.) So cool to see them mentioned on here. I didn't realize how popular they are!

Kerikins said...

This is a great tradition! We don't have too many, but my mom has bought us a new ornament each year since my brother and I were babies and now we have a great collection of meaningful decorations for our trees. My dad used to read Twas the Night Before Christmas every Xmas Eve. I can't wait to start a family and make some new traditions though.

Jo Waterhouse said...

We make a satsuma lantern -
http://tootasinfoot.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/festive.html
I have some angel chimes now but never did when I was little, they look so beautiful.

annie said...

A tradition in my family is that on Christmas Eve after a big dinner close friends and family, all the kids get a new pair of pajamas to wear to bed for Christmas morning.

Caitlin said...

My husband and I are expecting our first baby in April and something that we started doing this year and want to keep doing with our family is adopting a local family and shopping for gifts and food for them during the season. We want our kids to understand how lucky we are to have a warm, cozy, cookie filled home (and we could use some reminding ourselves sometimes).

My family's tradition is mostly on Christmas Eve - the Polish tradition of Wigilia, centered around the sharing of oplatek and blessings and good wishes for the upcoming year. We used to complain about it when we were kids but I just love it now!

A Place to Bee said...

This is great as I was actually just talking with my husband about family traditions at the weekend as I'd like to set some during 'normal' days too. We have pancakes every Saturday, a cooked breakfast every Sunday (we live in the UK) - but I'd like to set more..!

As for Christmas traditions, every Christmas we buy a new ornament. On Christmas Eve, the girls sprinkle reindeer food outside the front of the house (so that Father Christmas's reindeer definately stop by and re-fuel..) :), and we open one present after dinner (I'm Italian and its an italian tradition to open presents Christmas Eve and eat a fish dinner).

Christmas morning we eat Pandoro (Italian Christmas cake) with warm milk for breakfast whilst opening all the other presents.

I love it! Wishing you a lovely Christmas, Joanna!

Diana said...

So many of our Christmas traditions revolve around food: caramel popcorn, pie, seven-layer dip, wassail. But one of my favourites, that we've sadly discontinued as my siblings and I have gotten older, is this: a few days before Christmas, we'd have a family slumber party. We'd curl up in sleeping bags beneath the tree and watch Christmas movies like 'It's a Wonderful Life' and 'White Christmas.'

Since I've lived in England, I've tried to incorporate some English holiday traditions into the family routine. We now never have a Christmas dinner without Christmas crackers, and this year I'm hoping to add roast potatoes and/or trifle to the holiday feast.

Great post, Jo! I love the idea of evaluating what traditions we had in childhood we value so much more as adults and considering which we'd like to pass on to our own families. Now I want to get some chimes! xx

Alexis said...

Such a sweet idea!

Mercedes Ruehl said...

I'm Spanish so we also celebrate El dia de los reyes magos (three kings day, January 6) A couple of days prior we grab a shoe box and go outside and fill it up with grass for the camels to eat when they come by to leave presents under the tree. Every morning I would wake up to find a trail of grass leading to the door. Somehow my parents made me believe the 3 kings plus the camels would come inside the house to leave presents. It was magical and sweet! Also, my dad would make me leave a glass of water and some walnuts for the kings to snack on. ha,ha! I have great memories from my childhood! Thanks for this post!!

heather said...

I remember having these as a kid too! Your photos are beautiful. In our family growing up, Christmas Eve was always the big dinner and celebration. My mom would serve French onion soup, and lamb, and a beautiful Bouch de Noel, with hidden bean inside. Whoever got the bean, was the King or Queen of the day. We would try and stay up for midnight mass, but didn't always make it. We would get to open one present before we went to bed. Then Christmas morning we would open up all the rest, and have the rest of the day to play with our new toys without having to dress up for any special meals. Now with my daughters, I am trying to fit in as much as I can. We have an advent calendar that I try to fit in with fun activities to do to spread out through the weeks, like getting our Christmas tree, making gingerbread houses, making cookies, but sometimes they are really simple things like drinking hot chocolate, and making paper snowflakes, or singing Jingle Bells together after dinner (especially during the week). Now we live across the country from my parents and my husband's parents, so we have still been flying out to the west coast to be with them for Christmas, sometimes with my parents, sometimes with his mom, and sometimes with his dad, so it has been a little different every year. But we are always together!

Erin said...

A beautiful idea - and what lovely photos you will have of your family from this amazing holiday season!

Erin said...

A beautiful idea - and what lovely photos you will have of your family from this amazing holiday season!

Beatriz said...

My boyfriend's family has a lovely ornament tradition for each Christmas. He has an older sister and every year their parents buy each of them an ornament that symbolizes their year. They decorated the tree two weeks ago and I was there to see them hang several years of ornaments and each one had a wonderful, often funny story behind it.

Amy Archer said...

my family is swedish so we have a lot of swedish traditions around this time of year, we have a big swedish christmas eve dinner and light advent candles, there is one for each sunday before christmas so you light one a week, we celebrate lucia, and one we just started a few years ago: we go to the zoo on christmas eve during the day. no one is there and all the animals are out playing in the snow, its pretty adorable. One thats not christmas related, on our birthdays my mom and siblings wakes us up early in the morning with donuts she cuts in the shape of the age we are turning

Unknown said...

What a great topic! and clearly, it touched a lot of people, as it did me. We had several family traditions. Here are two of my favorite:
1) we never had any Christmas presents under the tree in the lead up to Christmas. instead, my parents would put them all out after the kids had gone to sleep so that when we woke up on Christmas morning, the transformation of our living room would look magical. As my parents said, Santa puts out the presents, so that's why all of ours would stay hidden until he arrived.
2) We don't open our stockings until after we eat Christmas dinner. This was so tough as a kid because I always REALLY wanted to open my stocking in the morning, but it drew out the magic of Christmas across the day, so that there was still something to anticipate once all of the initial ripping and tearing was over. Now it's one of my favorite traditions!

girlseeksplace said...

That's a very neat tradition. My family has never really had any traditions for holidays. I always hoped I'd have a significant other to create traditions with, but I'm learning to make my own traditions.

Lady Grey said...

oh my gosh I had completely forgotten about angel chimes! My Austrian grandparents used to have them, and I remember loving them as a young child. Thank you for bringing back this lost lovely memory!
xo

dellamargaretta said...

Growing up my mom would place a long leather strap of "jingle bells" on the handle of our front door. They would ring every time it was opened... The story was that when she was a little girl, Santa had accidentally left the jingle bells at her home one Christmas.

Laura said...

Mary,

There's an Angel Chime that looks a lot like Joanna's here:

http://www.magiccabin.com/angel-chime_p215535.html

-Laura

Unknown said...

We have a special tablecloth on which we write (with fabric markers) things we're grateful for. Then the tablecloth is washed, and the markers stay, year to year. This year our little family finally filled it up, and we had to start a new one--which is bittersweet, since the old one has scribbles and drawings from my life since I was 7 years old. It's one of the best things my parents did.

gilbo said...

When my extended family gets together, we draw names for stockings and set a price limit, around $20. We then choose a store that is open on Christmas Eve (grocery? hardware?) and shop for stocking stuffers at the same time, sneaking around each other. It was born when my mom and aunts were young women and decided to do stockings last minute. They did this at a 7-11, the only place that was open at 10 pm Christmas Eve! The creativity is astounding.

Bethany said...

We had the same thing - it's so fun having my own tree up and having these wonderful visual reminders of special times spent with my parents. :)

Emily said...

I make an advent wreath to have on the coffee or dinner table, that has 4 tall tapers in it. Even though we aren't religious, lighting a new candle on each of the four Sundays of Advent remind us of the count down to Christmas/the New Year, and make for a nice tradition every Sunday morning in December. It makes us want to sit at home and think about what it means to relax, prepare, 'hope', give, etc.

We also give an ornament each year, so now our tree is decorated with my own childhood ornaments, and now our own family's! each ornament brings back a certain memory, too, including the few years where we sawed off 1/2" of the christmas tree trunk to make an ornament by painting it with a clear varnish, then with our names and the year on it.

lapiu belladitutte said...

The angel chimes are really cute, one strange tradition we used to have when my grandppa was still alive was that he bought for us lottos and ballons only christmas!

lapiu belladitutte said...

The angel chimes are really cute, one strange tradition we used to have when my grandppa was still alive was that he bought for us lottos and ballons only christmas!

Anne and Alex [A Squared] said...

We always opened gifts from each other (my siblings and me) after returning home from Christmas Eve mass. It was a nice way to acknowledge the thought we put into gifts for each other instead of getting lost in the shuffle of opening gifts from Santa on Christmas morning.

Sarah Tucker said...

My brother and I get Christmas PJ's and we alwayyssss get scratch-off lotto tickets...however, I never win!

Emily said...

Orange cinnamon rolls for Christmas brunch. I've started to try making them from scratch, but heck the tube ones are decent and allow more time for fun on Christmas morning.

Emily | Sparkle Meets Pop

Mia Stizzo said...

my dad is italian and my mom is mexican so our family looks forward to "sausage day" and "tamale day." we make homemade sausage a week or so before christmas, and a few days later we make tamales. both are all day events and we end up eating and drinking and laughing a lot. my son's first birthday is on the 21st, so this year he gets to have tamale birthday! this might be the start of a new tradition. it's one perk of being born so close to christmas, i guess since tamale day is usually a blast.

M said...

I'm French and my partner is British so here in the U.K it's homemade mince pies + over-played carols until we fly to France where Christmas Eve dinner is the most important meal (lots of appetizers, cheese and Christmas log!) & there's no Boxing Day.
When we were little and it was time for Father Xmas to come, my brother and I would go to the next room and my dad would knock a log against the chimney, we so believed it was him coming! :)

wallabybedtime said...

aww :] my parents had a set of angel chimes when i was little, i have no idea what happened to them. i loved them though. my guy and i have our first christmas tree this year, it's only about 2.5 feet tall and i got it at goodwill for $12. haha. the only other holiday tradition we have is spending new year's eve at his parents' house--since he works in retail, he can't take time off til after christmas, so while i'm able to fly home to LA before christmas eve, he doesn't leave town til the 27 usually. it's always super fun to have him pick me up at my parents' house, have dinner with my parents and drive me home to SD to his parents' house and spend a few days there with them.

Ali said...

Growing up we always had angel chimes (my mom's family is Swedish). I always loved the sound!

Since our first Christmas together, my husband has given me a Hallmark ornament celebrating something from the past year. I have an ornament tree I set up on the dining room table-I love displaying our history.

This year we will be adding Baby's First Christmas!

Ali
www.40tasks.blogspot.com

The Slow Pace said...

We don't have kids (yet ;-) ) but since we moved to Germany we started a little tradition: every year we go to the Christmas market and buy a new piece of decoration for our tree. That way, when we leave this country we will have something to remember every Christmas that we sent here.
www.theslowpace.wordpress.com

Meghan M. said...

Every Christmas Eve we have a raclette dinner. My family's German and brought the tradition over from Germany. The raclette cooker is set in the middle of the table. While you have your raclette cheese cooking in the griddle you doctor up a potato with capers, pickles, spices and whatever you want on it and then when the cheese is melted you ooze it over the potato. Its such a fun interactive meal that similar to Thanksgiving is special because we only have it once a year!

We also have english crackers on everyones plates. This year we found a store to buy materials and make them yourself giving us the fun opportunity to fill them with great prizes!(They usually come with silly toys) Its also fun to wear the paper crown that comes in it all through dinner, it makes everyone silly and just is a great atmosphere

We have been doing both these traditions since as long as i remember! I look forward to this tradition with great anticipation and am getting excited just talking about it!

-Meghan

Rachel said...

Since I've from a musical family, every Christmas eve after our big family dinner, we all gather around my Mom's piano and somebody will play Christmas songs and we'll all sing. It's something that I've loved ever since I was a little girl. And it's moments like these that have really shaped me--I am a musician today and singing at Christmas eve is still one of my favorite things we do all year.

Jessica said...

My boyfriend is from Denmark,so this is the first year I have candles for Advent, but I love them! It will definitely be a tradition. Also, we always open one present from under the tree on Christmas Eve. This started when I was young and was so excited that my parents gave me a present early (possibly just to get me to shut up!) I still get super excited to open my Christmas Eve present.

kbd said...

I can't believe you have this post today! I live in Boston and went to Rockport, MA's Christmas night on Friday. I found angel chimes in a store there and bought them for myself because my parents have them! Anyway, I think her's are better quality (heavier metal) because they go ding...ding...ding and mine goes dingdingding as the angels whizz around! It makes me laugh.

Kelsey said...

Being from Austin, I like Mexican food, especially tamales, on Christmas eve. On Christmas Eve my mom and I would cook together and make something special for Christmas morning like coffee cake or cinnamon rolls. On Christmas morning my Dad would put a sheet across the living room door so we couldn't see it. It wasn't until he put on his record of a big orchestral version of "Joy to the World!" that my sister and I could burst in; the tree would be lit, roaring fire in the fire place, stockings full, and Santa presents would be out, what a magical scene. Next year I'll have a little one and I'm going to continue this tradition!

Donna said...

A few of my favorite traditions:
- Christmas Eve dinner with the beau's and my family all together
- Homemade cookies for the neighbors & we make doggie cookies for Wally to "give" to his friends
- Holiday party with my girlfriends from HS, this will be our 8th year together

Love this post!

www.soyouagree.com

Becca said...

What a great post! My husband & I have been trying to set our own traditions now that we're our own family unit. We kind of naturally fell into a tradition that I hope continues to last: I work at a non-profit agency for mentally ill adults, and I'm required to choose a holiday to work every year. So on Christmas, my husband & I wake up early to go spend the morning with my wonderful consumers, celebrating together as a family. It's such a rejuvenating way to spend the holiday, after a month of Christmas consumer overload. I hope that even after I change jobs, have kids, move cities, etc., that we continue to do something similar. Sounds cheesey, I know, but it's really the best way to spend Christmas. No awkward obligatory dinners; just genuine togetherness with a makeshift family of very unique individuals. I love it.

isabel said...

making christmastree ornaments and have all sort of family outings

www.mamajulesbrussels.blogspot.com

Becca said...

^^^ "consumers" is mental health field lingo for "clients" or "patients"

Nina said...

Having grown up with a German mother we had lovely christmas traditions. Real candles on the tree, siging german christmas songs, st nikolaus tag and putting out our shoes with lists, certain types of sweets and treats in a box from germany every year, those angel chimes, getting oranges (not my favorite tradition) in our shoes and stockings. As a mother I give my son a new set of PJs every christmas eve, this year with a fun video tucked in with them, we have an advent calendar he LOVES, and for presents we don't go overbaord. One from Santa, and 4 from me - something he wants, something he needs, something to wear, and something to read (which is usually several books or a kid's magazine subscription) . I love driving around and looking for lights and this year - he's five - they are the magical to him yet...we walk the dog each night and some houses he just wants to stand in front of - entranced. We usually go to a christmas show and on christmas day, since my stepmo is jewish, we've developed the habit of going to the movies.

VintageDanielle said...

Right now it's just Johnny and I so we don't have any real traditions yet execpt playing christmas movies while decorating the tree. I do sleep over at my Grandmother's on Christmas eve and since I'm the baker of the family, I bake cookies the night before. Once I start a family, I hope to have more traditions, like what you are doing.

Sara said...

What a sweet tradition! I can't wait to start traditions with our little guy, who is six months old this Christmas.

My husband Jordan and I like to put the Christmas tree up together, and every NYE, we fill out a little inventory sheet about the last year and make a list of goals for the year ahead. I just love the holidays!

MadTronics said...

My immediate family spends christmas eve together. One half is more adult focused - cracked crab and champagne for dinner, and the other half is more for kiddos - we hop into the car after dinner to check out the Christmas lights.

Liz said...

We do a bunch of countdowns. We go a little overboard but it's so much fun. My kids are 6, 4, and almost 2. This year our big countdown is our 25 days advent house that we open each day. Behind each door is a family activity that we do that day, so for instance, today we are decorating mini cardboard Christmas trees. All the stuff is low cost or free, and we take advantage of the activities in our area (such as Santa coming to town and a community Christmas party at the university my husband works at.) We also have an Advent storybook that has a different faith based story for each day. We have advent calendars that have a small piece of chocolate behind each door. We also hang a number on the candy cane countdown (each piece adds a layer so when it is done it will look like a candy cane.) We also read a different Christmas story each day. And my oldest son and I are reading a chapter or two out of Beware the Snowman by RL Stine every day. (Perfect weird tradition.) Like I said we go a little overboard. :)

Julie said...

my family makes homemade pizzas every christmas eve! It's my favorite tradition. And we of course read the night before christmas before bedtime.

emi said...

this post is too cute for words!
your blog is darling, now following you!! xo ps come enter our giveaway!

Nina said...

Ah we do also watch elf though this has morphed into all year long, we have the cristmas pickle which is suprisingly hard to find an I must listen to David Sedaris' 6-8 black men skit at least once...it makes me laugh just thinking about it! :)

Erin Stamer said...

Every year my parents give my brother, sister, and me an ornament to put on the tree. We each have our own cache of them: mine are moose, my brother has bears, and my sister has snowmen. When it's time to decorate the tree I put on all my moose ornaments, and my siblings put their own on! It's a really fun tradition. And the best part is when it's time to celebrate Christmas with families and trees of our own we will already have a great collection of decorations that really bring back memories. The only bad thing, is I don't know what my parents will do with the tree once all of our ornaments are gone.

tammy h. said...

Escargots sound amazing! Growing up in France, I had them on special occasions. But now in the states, they're a real rare treat. What a great idea! P.S I used to HATE escargots, but loved the sauce too. I've learned to love escargots though now as an adult.

Stella said...

Too many traditions to share them all!! I absolutely love Christmas time. This is the first year my husband and I will be celebrating Christmas together. I am excited to start a few traditions of our own.

Annabelle said...

THE HIDDEN PICKLE ORNAMENT IN THE TREE! The finder gets the special pickle present. There's also filling of the shoes (placed by the fireplace) on St. Nick's Eve with chocolate coins and oranges and other goodies. Pretty sure both of those are German. Most of my family traditions are German. Yay Milwaukee!

Kylie said...

I hadn't heard of these angel chimes before, but they are lovely! Growing up, my mother would always read "The Little Match Girl" (http://www.amazon.com/Little-Match-Girl-Christian-Andersen/dp/0439643635) in front of the fireplace before we went to bed. However, it's actually a New Year's Eve story, but I think she just really loved it and wanted us to love it, too. My husband's family (all New Mexican) places farolitos (brown paper bags, with candles inside) along the street and up to the house on Christmas Eve for Luminaria. Many people in New Mexico do this, so it's become tradition to take a drive after dinner to enjoy the Christmas lights and Luminaria while listening to Christmas songs. Happy Holidays!

Annabelle said...

I'm from Wisconsin and my family definitely makes Tom and Jerry's. But here in Colorado, no one has any idea what they are (and when they hear, they aren't too impressed haha). But I love them :)

Alison said...

My mom made this beautiful advent calendar that I always looked forward to. We also had a thing like the angel chimes, but it was wood so no chiming. It did spin around once the candles were lit, and since the thing is triple decker it was always pretty epic - even as an adult. And ALWAYS gingerbread houses - REAL gingerbread houses - decorated with old fashioned candy and icing.

Annabelle said...

My family is German and we have have the wooden pyramids too! I absolutely love them and it always reminds me of my grandma's house at Christmas. It twirls during every meal around this time.

pammihearts said...

I have yet to start any holiday traditions with my family. But this year, we made it a point to visit Santa. I hope to get a pic every year with the big guy. Maybe, this year will be the year to start doing gingerbread houses.

small's agent said...

Lovely idea! The reviews associated with your Amazon link for the angle chimes are pretty bad...many saying how flimsy it is. Is this the same as the one pictured in your photos? If not, do you have a line on a better quality one?

Leia said...

This year my mother made an advent calendar for my 2 year old son. He is loving waking up every morning and seeing what "treasure" is in today's pocket. I love the idea that I will pull it out of the cupboard for him every year, and that one day it will (hopefully) be used by his own children. The fact my Mum made it makes it all the more sweeter. Here is a blog post I did about it - my Mum is one talented lady! xLeia
http://ohmeohmy85.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/the-count-down.html

Laura said...

Love Toby's sweet chubby cheeks and how he looks like both of you! Lovely family tradition....We have a tradition of picking out our tree and putting it up on Thanksgiving weekend. I plan on having an annual Christmas party for my children's friends and also taking my kids to the Nursing homes locally to bring cards and sing songs to the elderly. As a child that was a big part of our Christmas time. We also visited the hospital my Dad worked in and sang songs and visited patients on Christmas eve. Then we went out to eat, came home and each opened one gift. :) The next morning we opened the rest.

carina said...

I had - and have - angel chimes. I'm Danish and a lot of people have them here:)

Kristín Jóna Kristjónsdóttir said...

My parents and my grandparents had these when I was growing up so I bought one when I was pregnant, love it and hope my son will enjoy them as much as I did/do :)

embily said...

every Christmas Eve we have clam chowder and shrimp cocktail followed by reading the story of the first Christmas from the bible while drinking hot chocolate.

alex said...

Angel chimes are such a lovely idea! When I was very young, my family fell in love with a certain set of Christmas CDs, and every year we listen to the same playlist as we decorate our tree. Even though we use Itunes instead of a CD now, it still feels absolutely magical when those songs come on as we string pretty lights. Our other family tradition is to buy one person an ornament every year. That way we don't all get nothing BUT ornaments, but we all have something to mark our interests of the year. I'm just starting out on my own, and my parents gave me all my ornaments to use on my own tree. It's so touching to see my life go by in these, starting from baby's first Christmas to Barbie, to Harry Potter, to my current profession.

natalienoods said...

In my family we all have hand-knitted stockings made by my aunt (who passed away a few years ago...not sure what will happen when we add family members now) that feature Santa with a fluffy angora beard and our names. We also always make homemade chex mix and caramel corn. Finally whenever we sit down to a big holiday meal someone (it used to be my grandpa) always says, "I wonder what the poor people are doing today!" It sounds callous when I try to explain it, but my family isn't rich, and so it's sort of a way of saying, today, we ARE rich--in family, friends, food, and love.

beth - ann said...

great post. holiday traditions make wonderful memories. you are one of my favorites to follow.

http://greenwhaleblog.blogspot.com/

Anna said...

Christmas we always have advent candles as well as calendars. We would help my dad make a big wreath with holly and mistletoe, then place 4 candles in it. Each sunday before Christmas we'd light one (first Sunday, one would be lit, second there would be two etc). We also had a big fat candle with the days marked off, and each day would burn it down one more day. I still have my advent candle!!

tiny arrow said...

LOVE this! I had completely forgotten about these angel chimes. My grandmother had these in her house for years...but then disappeared at some point. Thank you for the memory jog!

jenny said...

Every year for as long as i can remember my mom, sisters and I would pick a night and sleep under the Christmas tree. We'd pull out sleeping bags, drink eggnog, and tell our favorite Christmas memories. Then we'd all fall asleep under the twinkling lights and shiny ornaments. This will be the first year that I haven't done it, since I'm 8 months pregnant and living 3 states away. It's killing me, but I get so excited thinking about how next Christmas, I'll have a daughter to start the tradition over with.

Shannon of ** Happiness Is...** said...

Joanna, my parents have those EXACT SAME angel chimes! And I think I have a very similar photo of me admiring them as a toddler, just like Toby is. Aw, brings back sweet holiday memories :) xo

aliceinbo said...


That pictures are so tender!

aliceinbo2.blogspot.com

Alie said...

Shoot, I don't have time to read everyone else's comments about their traditions, but we're looking for new ones too. Post your favorites, would you?

Our favorite tradition that we're starting this year is gratitude/kindness notes. Throughout the month we're writing notes and slipping them into one another's stockings, and we'll read them on Christmas Eve.

Kelly said...

We had brass angel chimes when I was a kid. Unfortunately, the edges on ours were extremely sharp, and when I was two I grabbed the chimes and ended up covered in blood. Ahhh, Christmas memories!

jadelees said...

Either Had I! How incredibly Beautiful!

My family traditions include putting up a Christmas Tree on November 25th (Early I know but in Australia it is too hot for real trees/ we don't celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving so Shops start Christmas Merchandise in Sept/Oct). It would have been my Grandmothers Birthday (she passed away when my Mum was 13) so it has always been a really love way to remember that Christmas time really is about Family.

Aside from that on Christmas Eve we always get together with our Neighbours, over cheese and wine and celebrate the holidays. That is another tradition I love.

jadelees said...

Thank you so much for that link!

Unknown said...

Growing up we always went to my dad's parents house on Christmas day and went to my mom's parents house on Christmas Eve. Ever since I can remember Christmas Eve at my grandparents house, we have ALWAYS made homemade tacos and enchiladas. Everyone pitches in and helps cut up onions, tomatoes, lettuce,etc. and of course we have to have our special sweet sauce from the local taco place, which is amazing. It's really laid back, we drink beer and wine and it's nice to have two Christmas meals that are completely different. My family and I always look forward to homemade taco Christmas Eve!

The amazing sweet taco sauce I'm talking about.. so good!
http://www.mexicanvilla.net/taco_sauce.html

Rachel said...

We had the same set growing up. When I moved out I took them. Its on my to-do list to pick up new candles tonight after work. I like the idea of lighting them at a certain point in time though. Need to figure out that new tradition.

On Christmas Eve after church we'd meet my Dad's family at our favorite Chinese place and have a big feast. Anytime I hear Christmas music I start craving Chinese food.

One new tradition my husband and I created is on Christmas morning we wear our matching Christmas jammies, drink coffee and eat monkey bread in front of the tree as we open presents. Its a nice calm moment before all the family craziness.

Amy P said...

My family always opened gifts on Sinterklaas, the Dutch holiday on December 6th. Then on Christmas Day we all went to church, and then to my grandma's for dinner. There were of course gift-oriented parties around the 25th because of extended family, but my family opened all of ours on the 6th to separate the gift-giving aspect from the Jesus aspect of the holiday. And all my friends were totally jealous that I got to open presents early :) Now that we all live farther apart it's much more difficult to get together for Sinterklaas, so we just do it on a day when we're all home closer to Christmas Day.

Esther said...

I grew up with that exact same angel chime set! It was my Nan's and I used to love pulling all the pieces out of the box, assembling them and lighting the candles.
I am going to call my mum right now and get her to get them out this minute!!
x

Kate Uhry said...

We too had angle chimes. My Mother had them as well, I love this tradition, and it is really special to see someone else does this too, I never knew anyone else who did this!

Melissa Blake said...

What a wonderful tradition. We always had a big family breakfast on Christmas morning and watched the parades and opened presents. It's one of the traditions I miss most since my father died.

Emily said...

My paternal grandmother knit stockings for each of my family members with our names on them. It's so special for us to have those stockings with the designs we've come to love over the years (mine has a snowman on a blue background :)
And ever since I was little the tradition has been that me and my siblings open one present on Christmas Eve, and that present is always new pajamas. It makes Christmas morning special and we have a lot of good pictures in all those pajamas! And for Christmas breakfast we always have monkey bread, which is awesome. I keep thinking of more traditions, haha! You get the picture though. ;)

Sarah Conner said...

Joanna, I'm a little freaked out by this post... I just wrote yesterday and posted today my thoughts about holiday traditions we'd like to perpetuate for our own son! Funny, we must have had the same dreams.

dearyoungmother.blogspot.com

Tasha said...

As children me and my siblings always decorated the tree together. Being the youngest child meant I always had the very important job of decorating the back of the tree, the only problem is that now I still take ages decorating the back of the tree, the front - not so much.

Love your blog xx

http://mygymcake.blogspot.co.uk

Olivia N said...

On Christmas Eve my brothers, sister and I open one gift - a pair of pjs from our grandparents. I'm 22 years old now and I STILL get pjs! I was the first grandchild but now my grandparents buy pjs for all 7 of their grandchildren. It's a great tradition for young children because having new pjs to put on makes them excited to get into bed and sleep so that Santa can come! I think because of this tradition my parents and now aunts & uncles have never had a problem getting us to bed this one night of the year!

Tom & Heather said...

Our order on Christmas morning is to see what we got in stockings first. In the toe of our daughters' stockings is a clue that leads them on a scavenger hunt for a gift. My parents started this for us. Then we eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast and then open presents. We also have an advent calendar. The calendar is full of magnets that together make a nativity. My girls alternate days to open each door and put a different character into the nativity. There is candy or money with each character.

Nikki.Bollerman said...

My siblings and I open our presents from each other on Christmas Eve. It's a great tradition because we don't spend a lot and the presents are't over shadowed by Santa's. So every Christmas Eve my mom makes/heats up all different kinds of appetizers and we eat and bond as siblings. We are all in our 20+ but Christmas Eve is always special.

häjni said...

I'm 21 years old, still spending my holiday with my parents even though I do have a boyfriend and we have been living together for almost 2 years now. I would really like to be together with my bf but we live abroad and he goes home to his femily to Italy and I go to HUngary to my parents. So it is a bit difficult. And I just simply can't imagine the holidays without my folks.

With my boyfriend we already created some little holiday traditions. Every year before December we visit Germany and we buy a beautiful advent calendar with good German chocolate inside. Then in December we open a window every night (actually we open two windows every other night so than both of us have chocolate:) Then I also prepare an advent wreath with 4 candles so we would light up 1 every Sunday before Christmas.

Than with my family we have traditional Hungarian Christmas. We only decorate the tree on the 24th afternoon. We have a huge dinner with fish soup (Hungarian specialty) some meat and lot of dessert. My mom is actually a chef so she always comes up with something nice but the fish soup is always there. After dinner we open presents and than we chat or play cards. Usually we have my grandparents over (both my grandmas and even my great grandma is alive, I love them around us). The following 2 days we visit relatives.

Lejla said...

Toby is tooo cute.

http://lejlatravels.blogspot.com/

wmbg. said...

toby's babyness is going away!

i can't wait to start traditions with my little one once he comes out.

sarah anne said...

we started celebrating the Dutch Sinterklaas on December 5th and 6th. Both my husband and I grew up opening gifts on Christmas eve and that was a bigger celebration than the 25th...so to keep a bit of "santa clause" mystery fun we decided on Sinterklaas (my husband is Dutch) for the beginning of the month and our other celebrations on the 24th.

jennyg said...

Christmas Eve caroling on our block...this year we are inviting our friends who live on the block, so there will be about 20 of us singing our hearts out to about 5 or 6 parties happening on our block. Tonight my daughters piano teacher asked to join in the fun. We have song books that are red leather bound and everything...I'm still thinking of a yummy cocktail to bring along.

jennyg said...

Christmas Eve caroling on our block...this year we are inviting our friends who live on the block, so there will be about 20 of us singing our hearts out to about 5 or 6 parties happening on our block. Tonight my daughters piano teacher asked to join in the fun. We have song books that are red leather bound and everything...I'm still thinking of a yummy cocktail to bring along.

Julia said...

My sister and I always open a gift on Christmas Eve, a pair of pajamas that we wear that night. My mom would wash them that night and take them out of the dryer right before wrapping them so they were warm and cozy when we put them on.
On Christmas morning we have a big breakfast after opening a couple of presents. The main part of the meal changes from year to year, but we always have puff pastry angels. We cut the angels out of puff pastry with a cookie cutter. But we also bake the scrap pieces and set them aside. Before you can eat one you have to say what it looks like.

Diane said...

oh we too did the angel chimes. In fact, when my mom died and I couldn't find her angel chimes I went out and bought more (not easy to find). I was going to write more about our traditions but I see this was so popular that over 100 already did so :)

kati said...

we continue some of the traditions my family had when i was little... my husband's family is less about traditions, so my family's traditions win :)

we always get our christmas tree with my parents after my son's birthday party.
we listen to john fahey's acoustic christmas songs while we decorate the tree (it sounded even better on my dad's static-y reel-to-reel when i was little but spotify will do).
the kids get a new ornament for the tree every year.
we usually have panettone eggnog french toast one morning.
the kids do trader joes gingerbread houses (they really are hands down the cutest houses out there).
on christmas eve, we set an extra seat at the table (to symbolize that we would have room at the inn, even though we are not religious) and have tamales with black coffee. we light lanterns that my daughter made in preschool and take birdseed out to the birdfeeder in the dark in the backyard (when i was little, we took treats to the goats and ducks, but we're in the city so birdseed it is).
and then the kids get to open one present under the tree on christmas eve (pajamas! always new pajamas!)

i absolutely adore christmas traditions, and hearing about everyone else's! i'd never heard of the angel chimes before. so sweet!

alison said...

my sister and i always had to go to my parents room when we woke up [obnoxiously] early christmas morning. my dad would check to make sure that santa had had time to visit [since we were up so early]. we had no idea that meant he was actually turning on the christmas tree lights, christmas music, and starting the coffee pot. we were always so excited to hear that santa had visited and we had permission to rush into the living room.

alex said...

My daughter Phoebe is just a bit older than Toby (3 in January), and we too are just starting our holiday traditions with her. I LOVE any excuse to celebrate so even though we aren't religious, we love the festive nature of holidays and celebrate many of them. I fully expect to get lots of inspiration from all your comments here, but I'm writing specifically to thank you for reminding me of angel charms!! I enjoyed them growing up (probably thanks to my French mother?? Not sure...), but haven't thought of them in years. I'm ordering some immediately! Happy holidays and thanks for the inspiration! xx

Cony said...

Well, we used to have traditions when my sister and I were younger, but for several reasons (One of them my mom and I becoming celiac) they got lost. Although I remember one of them was buying chocolate coins and hanging them on the tree and one Christmas my sister decided to eat them all and placing the empty coins again in the tree. By the time my made took them from the tree to give it to the whole family, there were no chocolate coins left Hahaha And the only tradition left is while decorating the tree we listen to Christmas Carrols and ask for someone's health and well-being every time we place a new decoration on the tree.

http://pilanaandcompany.blogspot.com.ar/

Jessica Weeden said...

Santa always leaves a small gift right outside our bedroom door Christmas morning. It's usually pajamas or socks or something minor, but it kept my brother and I busy until we could go wake up my mom. We weren't allowed to wake her before 8 am, ha! Then we'd all open the presents on her bed before going downstairs to see the tree and our stockings. It's a nice way to really savor that Christmas morning feeling.

Beth E. said...

Oh my goodness! Angel chimes! Those were my very favorite. It actually brought tears to my eyes to see them. My parents lost them when I was in college and I haven't seen them since.

michelle said...

We have lots: like most families, some are ones I grew up with, others from my husband and then there are ones we adopted on our own. I really enjoy the holiday season and doing something every day to celebrate, be it wearing egg nog mustaches or making the children look like Santa using bath bubbles, or going ice skating or taking them to see the Christmas tree in Union Square in San Francisco. I've noticed my children have different favorites, one loved the gingerbread house this year while another child could care less (except for eating the candy, that is). So you find what works and continue to do that. Some things I've kept, others I've tried and tossed.

Some favorites: dressing up fancy to visit Santa at Macy's in Union Square (six year tradition, my oldest is 5!), getting hot cocoa from a chocolate cafe, reading Christmas books each night by the Christmas tree, playing music and singing/dancing, making sibling gifts, sending/receiving Christmas cards.

Last year we got an Elf on a Shelf and my children love it. I think it's so fascinating that something relatively new has become so mainstream so fast - it's now become a tradition and many of my relatives/friends have an Elf too.

Lesley said...

Oh my god, we had these too and I only remembered when I saw this post. I wonder if Mum still has them somewhere (probably not, she is not one of life's hoarders)? I remember being fascinated with how fast the angels spun around. Thank you for reminding me of such a treasured memory.

ACP said...

As a new tradition, my husband and I sing/record a Christmas song every year. I am not a singer - but he loves recording things and playing guitar. We pop a bottle of wine, pick a song, and do it. This will be our fourth year - we're thinking about Blue Christmas. It's a fun thing to send to our family members to wish them Merry Christmas and a way for us to be creative and spend time with each other during the holiday. We don't have family that lives nearby - just each other. I'm secretly super excited to have enough songs for an "album." ;)

Maddy said...

My family always has fresh cracked crab for dinner on Christmas Eve - we pull apart the shells and squirt lemon on top and eat it with salad and bread and olive oil&vinegar. I don't remember how it started and it's a very non-traditional holiday meal but it is delicious AND fun!

Gardise said...

ditto:)

Sky said...

Please check out my website for cozy Santa messages for children of all ages - my husband and I created as a gift to all the children of the world.
www.santaisreal.com

Kristian said...

So many traditions! We always decorate on the same day and then on Christmas Eve we eat grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup before opening gifts to each other. We will also watch "White Christmas" on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was for Santa and a big traditional meal but we also usually see a movie that evening.

Natalie said...

We do Christmas Eve pajamas. And have been having dinner with the same family friends for 10 years now, a couple of years ago they even moved half a mile down the road! For a while when we were younger, I was the ringleader in getting my brothers up around 4 or 5 in the morning, and we were only allowed to look through or stockings until 7, when we could go wake up our parents. But that was a long time ago :) Though my youngest brother still asks when we will be getting up in the morning, while some of the rest of us struggle to get downstairs by 8. After our guests leave on Christmas Day, and the dishes are all done, we all watch It's a Wonderful Life. And my mom's birthday is the day after Christmas, so we always have an early dinner at the Russian Tea Room and then go see the tree. Unfortunately things like advent calendars and advent wreaths have fallen by the wayside as we've gotten older, but that's ok.

Wendy said...

I forgot all about this! My mom used to bring Angel chimes out at Christmas, too... I loved them! Now I want to run out and get one! So pretty and a perfect holiday tradition!

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