Hillary Chybinski: Favorite Christmas Family Traditions

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Favorite Christmas Family Traditions

Ideas and Inspiration for Family Traditions for Christmas

Christmas (and many other holidays too) is for family. Whether it's the family you were born into, or the family you have gathered around you over time, spending time wiht family is one of the purest joys of the Holiday season. Much of that joy comes from sharing the traditions.

Some of our family traditions come from when I was a little girl, and some of them we have developed as our own family has grown. And sadly, some of them have fallen by the wayside as the kids get older and out-grow them.

Advent Calendars
We started out when the kids were little, with a felt handmade Advent Calendar. It was shaped like a Christmas Tree and had 25 ornaments you could hang on it with velcro. It wasn't fancy, but it was perfect . . .for years. After I had my second child, I read about a holiday book countdown, and started collecting holiday books from our own bookshelves, and some local book stores. I picked out 24, ending with Twas the Night Before Christmas for December 24th. I wrapped them all up, numbered them, and put them in a big basket. Each night, we'd open one and read it together.

These days, with a none year old and a teenager, we stick to the Chocolate Advent Calendars form Trader Joe's. But I'll let you in on a little secret - you HAVE to get them the first time you see them in the store. They only cost $1 and they sell out in about a week. 

Decorating Our Home
This is probably my favorite tradition.  It's hard, but I like to wait until December first to decorate. I love Thanksgiving, and I like to give it the space and honor it deserves. But when that calendar flips to December, the tree comes out, the music gets turned on and the lights go up! Over the years, I've had many Holiday Decoration "themes". This year I'm going for a "rustic glam" look thanks to Pinterest and Instagram. So I've been rummaging through my boxes of holiday decorations, searching for ones that fit my theme, and adding some odds and ends form around the house that also fit in. White lights though - only white lights.

We have two Christmas Trees - one for the family and a kids' tree full of all of their ornaments collected during their lives. My plan, is to pass those ornaments along to their families some day, as my mom has passed some along to me.

Baking Cookies
One of my favorite memories from when I was a little girl, was baking cookies at my grandmother's house. My mom and I, my aunt and cousins and my other aunt (before she was married with her own kids), would get together and bake endless amounts of cookies. These days, my mom, my aunt and I gather on one Saturday, and make several batches of cookies to share. It's a fun day of girl time, hanging out and sharing stories and memories. We even use many of the same recipes (handwritten in my grandmother's distinctive script).

Making a Gingerbread House
Before we had children, my husband and I would spend Christmas Eve visiting with his family, and then heading to NJ, to spend the night with mine. After we had children of our own, it was important to us for them to wake up Christmas morning in their own home, so we started staying home on Christmas Eve. Staying home, meant coming up with new traditions, and that's not always easy. One tradition born out of that, was making a gingerbread house. We buy one of those kits, and build and decorate it on Christmas Eve afternoon, with all the lights lit and the holiday music blaring. It's time I look forward to spending with my boys.

So there are some of my favorite holiday traditions. I'd love to know what yours are - there is always room for a new tradition after all - right?

catch you soon -


  1. I've never made a gingerbread house, but this is OUR YEAR!!

  2. One thing we don't do religiously is an advent calendar, I'd love to start doing more with that. I love your ideas.

  3. Next year I want to do an advent basket and have Gabe put items in it to donate leading up to Christmas. I thought that was the sweetest idea.