Fall is my favorite time of year for creating family memories. It always starts with football season and is followed by lots of birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. Although this year may look a little bit different, I hope that we can continue most of our traditions throughout the upcoming holiday season.
While I’m sure that many of you do some very creative things with your families during the holidays, I’m here to share our five favorites that I hope my children will always remember and cherish.
- Family meals. I’ll start by saying that I’m really jealous of those of you who can put together a Thanksgiving meal for the family. If you’re like me and the thought of having to plan and cook a huge meal for Thanksgiving makes you cringe, don’t worry. The Fresh Market always comes in clutch for us. I have never in my life even attempted to cook a turkey. To be honest, I’m afraid it will turn out like the one from the Christmas Vacation movie. In all seriousness, you can order meal packages or you can order a la carte from The Fresh Market, and all you have to do is reheat the items. Nobody will ever know that you didn’t spend the whole day in the kitchen — it’s that good! I must also add that their chocolate chip pecan pie is delicious! We’ve been doing this for several years and I highly recommend it. Some of our other family meal traditions include chili on Christmas Eve as well as a special Christmas morning breakfast.
- Shopping. While this may look especially different this year, we love shopping on Black Friday. It seems that stores have been opening earlier on Thanksgiving Day the past few years, so after we eat, we usually go check out the deals at places such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. Sometimes, when we travel for Thanksgiving and there is a discount outlet nearby, such as Tanger Outlets, we always check those stores out too. We are not ones to shop all night long though. We have found that a lot of stores have the same discounts throughout the entire weekend, especially the outlet stores. We will likely have to pass up in-person shopping this year, but we plan to do some online shopping instead.
- Decorating the tree. We do not have a set date in which we put our Christmas tree up, so my kids usually end up begging us to put it up before we are ready, but we try to put it up shortly after Thanksgiving. I should mention that I am not a very talented decorator. Our tree is artificial and pre-lit with white lights. All of the ornaments that we put on it are random and the majority of them have a sentimental meaning behind them. Some of them are from my grandmother, some are from my parents, some are ornaments I made as a child, some are from my own children that they made at school, and some are from trips we have taken. Usually, I have to move some ornaments around to balance it out since my kids end up bunching a lot of the ornaments together at the bottom, although it is pretty comical. While our tree may not look like it came from a holiday magazine, it always ends up very full and colorful, and my kids are always so proud of their work.
- Elf on the Shelf. I swore for many years that I would never do this because I thought it was weird and creepy. However, when my daughter started drawing elves and hiding them and moving them herself, I felt bad. So, my husband and I discussed it and he embarked on a journey to make an Elf of the Shelf appear at our house. One night, my daughter’s drawing just happened to turn into a “real elf” and that’s how we got hooked on the Elf on the Shelf. The first year, we only participated in this for a week as the elf appeared about a week before Christmas. We didn’t think about future years and the commitment it involves. However, I will say that every December my kids have absolutely no trouble waking up for school, as they basically wake up on their own to search the house for our mischievous elf. We have a lot of fun with it.
- Baking cookies. Of all of the things we do each year, I truly believe that baking chocolate chip cookies on Christmas Eve is our favorite. I am not the greatest cook and I do not enjoy cooking that much, but I love baking chocolate chip cookies. This is really the only time I ever bake cookies each year too. As my kids have grown, I enjoy it even more because they can actually help by measuring and mixing the dough. I follow the Nestle Toll House recipe minus the chopped nuts, and they are so good! Last year, we even added some red and green M&Ms. There is nothing quite like eating warm, freshly baked cookies in front of the fireplace together on Christmas Eve!