Christmas 2020 is upon us, and our Christmas traditions will hit full-on “go-mode” starting tomorrow. Tomorrow marks the official start of our homeschool Christmas break. In celebration, I am sharing our large family’s favorite Christmas traditions.
The first weekend of December marks the beginning of Advent and also my oldest son’s birthday. (He turned 18 this year which is CRAZY to think about.) The first weekend of December is also when we usually pick out a tree and decorate it. Some years we go all out and hang enough ornaments on our tree that I can almost hear its branches begging for every-living mercy. Other years we only do a simple string of lights and some hand threaded popcorn garland. This year it was a simple year #2020!
We have always had stockings, but I found an amazing pattern that I just KNEW I needed in my life a few years ago. It is called the Dylan Stocking, and I made each of my kids one in their color. Yes, each of my kids has their own color – #largefamilyhack. Fun fact – we ran out of colors by baby 8, and his color is black… If you want to make your own stocking, please keep in mind I took out a “section of stripes” from the original pattern so that they weren’t as long.
This piece of decoration means a lot to me. My father made this one year after I commented that I didn’t yet have my own creche. He handmade it from sticks from his cabin in the woods and even topped it off with a salvaged ceramic nativity character set. I added a battery operated puck light, and now it is a staple in our Christmas decor. We used to wait and only add Jesus to the scene on Christmas day, but now he goes in right away (during Advent) because I just want to see him in there. Do you hold off and wait to put baby Jesus in the manger until Christmas Day?
Every year, we pack into our van (usually with a travel mug of hot cocoa) and drive around the see all the amazing Christmas lights and decorations. Most years, we end the evening eating pie at a local diner. This year? That may look a little different since the restaurants where I live are on lockdown again. Homemade pie for the win!
We usually do some sort of gingerbread house around Christmas time. When the kids were little, we learned how to make them from graham crackers, which made the activity very doable when trying to help multiple young kids who get frustrated easily with crumbly cookies. I’ve seen them made with Poptarts too; the icing looks like snow on the roof!
Watch “The Nativity Story”
Every eve of Christmas Eve we sit down as a family and watch the movie: The Nativity Story. It is a great way to refocus on the reason for the season. I love this movie because it does a great job of highlighting not only Mary’s struggles but Joseph’s sacrifices as well. If you haven’t seen it – DO IT! It is well made and the acting is great as well.
We also have a crocheted soft Nativity set that my little kids play with every single year! I have a free crochet pattern for an adorable Nativity Set if you’d like to make one for your family! Find the pattern HERE.
Memorize Luke 2:1-20
Most years our middle kids (Kindergarten through 6th grade) memories the birth of Jesus according Luke. Mike’s dad will always read this passage before we open presents at their house, so it is really neat for the kids to be able to recite it with him or at least be very well acquainted with this passage.
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
If you have my e-cookbook, Baking the Basics, you already have in your possession THE best overnight cinnamon roll recipe ever. After we put the littles to bed, I start these babies and let them slow rise in the refrigerator overnight. When we get up on Christmas morning, I will set them out and preheat the oven while we get the coffee going. When the kids were young, we threw a candle in the baked rolls and sung “Happy Birthday” to Jesus before breakfast.