148. Why even make family Christmas traditions? (+ ones that didn’t work, ones that did)

Family traditions are something we often think about as we start having kids. Many of us are looking for traditions to bring into our holidays that help us make memories with our kids. Sometimes we even feel an urgency to find the ‘right ones, right now’.  

As we start to incorporate these new tradition ideas, sometimes they don’t always work. But here is why I think it is worth spending the effort doing some trial and error with traditions. . . . 



In this episode we cover:

  • the ways that traditions help us express our values as a family
  • the role of traditions in family heritage
  • finding stability in the routine of traditions
  • the urgency we have to establish our new family traditions
  • traditions we tried that DIDN’T work
  • traditions that DO work for us 
  • what I’ve learned about having Christmas traditions as a young family 

The Christmas Pajama Stockings

christmas stockings from kids christmas pajamas

The blog post with all the Christmas tradition ideas is right here

Simple Christmas Series

Simple Christmas Podcast Episodes

Simple Christmas Series Blog Posts

The Simple Christmas Planner can be found right here. 


The simple pleasure of the week: filling out the NEW planner/calendar


Share in the Facebook group (make sure to answer the entry questions)

Tag me or message me on Instagram

Join the Simple Saturdays email (it is FUN! email)



Welcome to the support purpose podcast. Here I like to share with you all the ideas, all of the tips, all of the encouragement that will help you simplify your home, your heart, your life and show up for the things that are really important to you. I want you to make space, make time and make energy for those things that you really deeply value and want more of in your life.

As we are coming up to Christmas, something that a lot of us do is think about traditions, we think about the Christmas traditions we had as children, the ones we want. And sometimes we’re just carrying along traditions that we’ve had just adopting them into our future without really even thinking about it.

I remember back when I had my first my first son, this was 10 years ago. And I was really excited by this notion that I got to build a family, I got to be an active designer in the culture of my family. Back then I also had a ton of anxiety along for the ride. So that derailed a bit of my attempts. But I remember coming into the Christmas season and just building up a lot of buzz around, what are our traditions going to be? I wanted some like memories, I wanted to create some flippin memories. As a family. I wanted my kids to talk about these traditions that we had, I wanted them to carry them on in their own lives.

And it hit me in that process of really thinking about what are we going to do as a young family? And how are we going to bring traditions into our culture and our Christmas, that traditions are something that are quite important, maybe even sacred. And I think there are three major roles that traditions play in a family.

The first one is that traditions help you express yourself as a family, they show a little bit of what’s important to you. Maybe you have a tradition of caroling in town, because music is important to you. Maybe you host a block party in your neighborhood, because community is important to you. They really reflect that culture of your family. What you think is funny or sentimental, how you communicate how you interact with one another. They’re almost like a country’s anthem or a team’s mascot. They’re a way to take pride in who the family is and what the family is about.

The second big thing that they bring to a family is a sense of security. If you have traditions that you like in your family, you probably look forward to them. They provide security, they’re reliable. And reliability is really important to kids. Because overall our life is not reliable. It’s not predictable.

We don’t know, when there will be a worldwide pandemic or a natural disaster or, or losing some important person or event or thing in our lives. We don’t know if we’re going to have a really tough season. And in tough seasons, we can lose a lot of our drive to make things happen.

But maybe we can rely on Friday night movie, or that special cake that your aunt makes for your birthday. Maybe we can rely in that spot in the house, that corner where the Christmas tree always goes. Traditions are important because while most of them really, they can remain stable when life doesn’t always feel stable.

This is just the truth for me right now. It’s been a really hard few weeks in my life, my town has been struck by floods on more than one occasion. The cleanout is unreal in the homes that are affected and just watching my community come together, going into people’s houses and carrying buckets of mud out and broken materials and furniture and, and piling them up on the streets. And just seeing the community support has been so amazing. The volunteers are really going above and beyond and I’m worried that they’re going to burn out. We’ve got all of our kids home from school. So if you’re a parent, you kind of feel a little bit helpless, like you can’t get out there. You can’t go do these things you’re kind of at home managing needs of the kids putting your own things on hold.

I just feel like there’s been a lot that’s been piling up over the past weeks in my life. And I won’t pretend that it has been easy because it has not felt easy. But one thing that is just really getting me through are the simple routines in my life. And in my week, the morning routines, morning coffee, chore day hockey practices Movie Night, I don’t have to think about it. It can carry me along from one day to the next from one week to the next.

And I’m I’m really looking forward to Christmas because Christmas is the time I can do that as well. I can let those traditions carry me through that. So maybe traditions aren’t just giving a sense of security to our children. Maybe they’re also doing that for us too.

the last point I want to make about traditions is that they are bonding. They’re bonding. They’re like a glue that holds a family together. They can be fun, they can be serious, but in some way way, they’re sacred to the group, when you participate in them, you’re part of something. And those are what traditions are. They’re part of our heritage part of our story. They’re a way that someone can engage in the story of our family or the story of our group. And I think it’s even a special thing, when we invite people into that invite people that we love him into these traditions, and they can be in our story and in our heritage.

It’s a really interesting thing to watch how kids handle traditions, and I reflect back on myself as a kid, I think I over emphasized the traditions that I felt we had. Because if I really think about it, the things that I consider to be traditions, the things that I thought were happening over and over again, really only happened a handful of times in my life, but I held fast to them and called them are our traditions.

And I see my kids do that as well. If a weird thing happens more than once, they start saying things like, oh, remember when so and so always did that. Remember how we always do that. And in my head, I think, Well, that happened maybe two out of the 10 years of your life, but they get excited. They want to make it happen again, they’re ready to cling to that thing to make it part of our family identity and our family traditions.

So as we come to another Christmas, we’re thinking about tradition. So once we have once we like When do we want? When do we think we want in oh my goodness, we probably think we want so many, especially if you’re on Instagram or Pinterest and you see all of the cute things that other families are doing. And you think, Oh, I shouldn’t be doing that, too. I definitely went through this especially my earliest years where I’m like a Christmas has to be tradition filled. Like what’s happening? What are the people doing? Oh, they’re baking. They’re watching all the movies, they pick ornaments, pickle,I need a pickle ornament, what do I do with the pickle ornament?

And all of this really resulted me in me feeling rushed to just establish all these traditions. And I’ll tell you, I tried and I failed. So I want to give you a list of our traditions that did not work.

The first one had high hopes for the Christmas pot in the Christmas pot is when you fill a pot of water with delicious smelling things cinnamon, citrus, vanilla, oranges, maybe some rosemary wherever you can get your hands on and you simmer that bad boy on the stove. And it makes the house smell delicious. For about the first couple of hours. That was what I felt like I felt like it needed constant refreshing. You got to keep adding water keep adding fresh goodies. And that year I was so gung ho about this being our thing. I even dried a little oranges and made these little bags with nutmeg and cinnamon to give to my neighbors. I chickened out at that point. But it was not something that I felt like sustaining. I felt like I’m too cheap to keep boiling vanilla on the stove. And I didn’t really feel like I could smell it like I did in the first maybe hour so if anyone has any ideas for a delicious smelling Christmas, send them my way.

The Christmas tree train that sounded really cool. I remember my sister telling me she bought one. I said Colt buy me one and we put it up in our tree and it like had a little train track circled train track in the tree that the tree would run around. And it lasted for about one year before it just derailed and wouldn’t even work again.

Christmas shaped pancakes that sounds fun. I want to be the mom who makes Christmas shaped pancakes. But instead I was a mom who made a plate full of Pinterest fails. It was epically bad. The food coloring wasn’t strong enough the shapes were all blobby. It’s just like another form of me doing something I don’t really want to do like Christmas baking.

I signed up for a baking exchange that sounds fun. You get all of this baking and you make a bunch and you get a bunch but I don’t like baking and I did not enjoy that and it was really stressful and it’s not something that I was excited to do again. I think we should all do less of what we don’t like and not apologize for it. I am not here to bake. But I will buy you an assortment of cheeses I got your back when it comes to cheese.

The other one is the family PJs. I thought every year our family would be in like adorable matching PJs and we would take the photo. Let me tell you Christmas pajamas are expensive. Every year, five new pairs of pajamas and in an overpriced market. Not to mention I think I was exceeding Connors personal limits of wearing red and white striped fleece. I mean we can only have so many Christmas pajamas in our drawer. So now we just do kids pajamas.

The other year I thought I would bring in the wish ornament where the kids write a wish or a memory on a piece of paper and they put in this little glass vial and we hang it on the tree it has like a glued little hook on it. Well, those glass vials cracked it was like a fail within hours.

And finally Christmas cards. I grew up getting Christmas cards. I liked reading them. I didn’t even attempt this as an adult really? I don’t think but as an adult, I still have people sending me Christmas cards and I feel guilty like oh I should probably send Christmas cards and I really Appreciate the Christmas cards where they write a personal letter, or I get photos from people like there’s Christmas photos on my fridge still from years ago. So if you are team Christmas card, that’s awesome. I love reading what you send, I am not team Christmas card is just along there with Team baking, I will send you a cute gif, I will text message you, I will give you some cheese, but Christmas cards, they’re just not going to live in my wheelhouse anymore.

So I wanted to share some of those with you to help you take the pressure off the necessity or the urgency that you might feel to develop traditions. Now, I want to encourage you to take your time with it and not put a lot of pressure on them. So that you can see what works, see what you like, see what your family likes. Like I wanted to be watching the Grinch every Christmas Eve. It’s something me and my little sister did for quite a few years. But God has given me a kid who hates the Grinch, I have no idea why He’s morally and ethically and bodily opposed to it. So the Grinch on Christmas Eve is is a fight that’s not worth having. I thought we would have that. But it doesn’t work for our family.

I want to tell you a couple of traditions that do work for our family. And it’s funny because I made this list and I realized that we’ve actually had more fails that we have had successes. But here’s the main ones I want to share with you.

The first one the Christmas PJ stockings, and these kind of happened. Really, like sporadically. I had bought myself a sewing machine some years ago thinking I would be an amazing seamstress. But I’m not really up there with my baking skills. And I was looking through all bunch of materials that I had, because I thought I’m going to make the kids Christmas stockings, that’ll be awesome. And they’ll be cute, they’ll be matching. And I didn’t really have a material that I liked. But I noticed when I was looking for material in the house that I had saved some of the Christmas pajamas that the kids had from their first year in a couple years. And I thought maybe I’ll just make them like out of Christmas pajamas.

And so every year, I cut off a strip of last years or two years ago Christmas pajamas, and I add another strip on so this stocking is huge. It’s ridiculously long, because I didn’t really factor into like, I don’t know, 17 years of Christmas pajamas. It’s kind of cute, you can see who’s the oldest in the house, that’s for sure. I’ll put a picture of them in the show notes and on Instagram as well.

The other tradition that I’m really trying to make happen is the tacky ornaments. So lots of parents buy their kids in order to manage each year. And my mom used to do this for us. And it’s kind of like when I put the ornaments on this year on the tree, I was really reflecting on kind of this picture painted of my childhood experience and how my mother viewed me through that based on the different ornaments she gave me and I thought that’s really kind of a beautiful thing that I never really stopped and paid attention to.

I’m in the process of buying my kids tacky ornaments each year. I’ll buy them from the thrift store, like a three legged crochet llama or diy poodle head with googly eyes. The problem is I buy them and then I forget where I store them. And then I have to go get them like another Christmas ornament. So maybe that’s a tradition that needs some refining.

And the broken Nutcracker. This is the epic tradition in our home. Some people have Elf on the Shelf. But we have this Nutcracker that probably came from $1 store years ago, and it’s fallen down. It’s been broken. It’s been glued back together in different places. But the whole tradition with a nutcracker started when we had it up in the house one day, and my husband moved it for something had to get into another cupboard. And when my kids were toddlers, they saw that it moved and they thought it moved on its own it must be magic.

And that just became its own thing where at night, we would just move it to a different place and kids would get up and search for it. And it just became a game this Nutcracker moves around and around. And then the Nutcracker started bringing gifts and it brings the same three gifts every year. It brings an advent calendar to the kids on the first, it brings a gingerbread house on the first Saturday of school. And it brings Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve.

So the Nutcracker is something that the kids are excited to see because it like leaves little notes and it moves around. And without the pressure of the Elf on the Shelf, it doesn’t have to perform if it does something cool. If not, that’s fine too, which I really liked that idea of not a lot of pressure.

And these traditions, when I share them with you, they don’t seem like a lot. And I’m sure that there’s lots of other things I think about it that we try to do or try to make time for. But these are really the main ones, the pajama stockings and the Nutcracker. Those are the ones that we really focus on making sure they happen. And what I take from that is that we don’t need to have a lot of traditions. We just need a couple that we like a couple that feel easier than harder. A couple that we enjoy a couple that feel like they kind of embody our family culture.

So try them out. Take some time with it. If you want a list of ideas, there is a post I’m going to link in the show notes full of ideas on different types of traditions.

And my friends, my life is upside down a bit right now you can probably tell. Ideally, I would have updated the simple Christmas planner with this year’s calendar and told you about it back in October, but that didn’t happen. So if you’re interested in getting your hands on the simple Christmas planner, it still has a lot of value.

The simple Christmas planner covers everything, from stressors to gift ideas, to simplifying to budgeting everything, I’m actually going to use it this year as well, because I just want a place to get centered, and write all those things that I really want to focus on and pay attention to, I reduced the price because it does not have this year’s calendar in it.

So if you’re interested, stop by the shownotes. And grab yourself a copy of that.

Also, if you want to prepare for Christmas, and you want some tips, ideas on how to simplify it, stop by the shownotes. I’m going to put a list of all the Christmas episodes from the past. So you can binge on them. There’s the simple Christmas series, which I had shared in the past.

And you might want to do this, you might want to fill your time with this because I’m not sure that I’m going to have a new podcast episode out until the new year we’ll see how the state of my community and the state of my home do. I just really need to be listening to my life right now. And my life is calling me inward. So I want to thank you for your graciousness, with me stepping back a little bit and tending to those big needs in my life right now.

Let’s wrap up with a simple pleasure. My simple pleasure that I want to share with you right now is filling out the new planner, the new calendar. So each year, you know, we’re getting up to December, we need new calendars, we need new planners, we’re going to go out and buy some new ones probably if you’re a paper person. And when I unwrap that new planner, it’s like this whole unboxing for Lady nerds like me, I get out some colored pens, I pull out the Google Calendar, I pour coffee I sit at the table and I fill in the months to come work schedules, birthday notes, whatever kids activities, and everything feels new and clean and fresh makes me feel proactive. It makes me feel organized.

And really that’s what I’m there for feeling those feelings. That’s how I want to feel about my life, a little sense of control. Maybe that’s really the pleasure in it as well. So that is a simple pleasure. I enjoy.

Alright friends stop by the shownotes. In the show notes. You are going to find blog posts on planning episode links to the simple Christmas episodes. A link to the simple Christmas planner, the post I mentioned on the different ideas for traditions and ways you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and how to sign up for the simple Saturdays email. I hope that over these next few weeks you will drop a comment in the Facebook group or tag me on instagram and share how you’re making your holiday season more simple. More on purpose this year. Alright friends, have a great day.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Leave a comment