What Will Be Next Year’s Christmas Memory? (+ $100 Macy’s Gift Card Giveaway!)

By Polly Conner

Holiday Traditions. Take them or leave them, we all have them. Even if your tradition is NOT having any traditions. Sorry to break it to you, you have a tradition of being non-traditional. OK, I’m being obnoxious with the word tradition. I’ll move on. ANYWAY, in my family growing up, we had quite a few things we did around the holidays. I thought I’d share a few as well as pepper in a few throw-back photos to spice things up a bit. (And to give you a peek at my awesome bowl cut as a four-year-old.)

Traditions I Grew Up With:


Leslie, Will and Polly. 1986

Delivering homemade apple butter to neighbors and friends. I’ve shared about how my family makes homemade apple butter in the fall. Well, in the winter we give most of it away! On Christmas Eve, all five of us would squeeze in the car and drive around delivering jars to family and friends. As kids we would moan and groan about the family outing but I think we all secretly liked it.

macys post

It’s safe to say I was bundled up!

Making colorful Christmas cookies to share. Each year, one of my parent’s friends, Jane, would invite me over to make special Christmas cookies. As a middle child, I loved being singled out to this special holiday event with Jane. I also loved all the fun frostings, candies and other things she had for us to decorate them with.


Christmas morning-1991

Hiking through the woods to cut down a tree. I grew up in the Ozarks which meant we not only get a REAL tree for Christmas, we chop it down ourselves. I’ve been told I was notorious for pleading for the 40ft cedar and would have epic fits because my parents would never pick the tree I wanted. I have yet to see any proof of these allegations.IMG_0004-1024x712 Always making monkey bread on Christmas morning. Monkey bread is a must for Christmas morning. We’ve always reserved making it until then and probably always will.


I mean, wow. The hair. The turtle neck. The sweatshirt!

Traditions I plan to do:

I for sure plan to carry on a few of these traditions that I grew up with. For starters, I always have lots of homemade apple butter to give away. apple butter My kids love any excuse to visit a neighbor so instead of strangely lurking on their porch while I fiercely whisper threats to not knock or ring the doorbell, we will actually have a reason to knock and say hello. It will be one of the highlights of my 3-year-old’s Christmas season. IMG_6634-2 Can we all just stop a moment and appreciate this photo below? IMG_6597-2 Thank you for your cooperation. Moving on… Side note: I loved the pictures I got from this little holiday photo shoot with my kids. Holiday clothes shouldn’t always mean dressing them in reds, greens and golds. In fact, my three-year-old would have nothing else on her body than this new Frozen sweatshirt from Macy’s. I’m not joking. And I couldn’t get enough of dressing up Tyler like a little adult in his fancy holiday sweater. Visit the Macy’s Kids Holiday site for lots of cute holiday outfits in bright colors and patterns.

Anyway, as I mentioned above, I loved making Christmas cookies with Jane. It was something I looked forward to every year and I want to create something like that with my kids. IMG_6797-2 Even though my kids are a bit young, we began the holiday cookie tradition this year. It was super messy but super fun! IMG_6700-2 IMG_6765-2 Similar to the fall cookies I made, I whipped up a batch of sugar cookie dough, let it chill during their nap time and put them to work after their naps. Nothing remedies the post-nap grumps like cookie dough! IMG_6758-2 IMG_6715-2 IMG_6694-2 As you can imagine, my 1.5-year-old was more interested in playing and eating the cookie dough than forming it into shapes. My three-year-old did surprisingly well maintaining some self-control and not eating the dough. I wish I could say the same for her mama. IMG_6746-2 IMG_6693-2 IMG_6745-2 Somehow amidst the craziness we managed to emerge with some identifiable shapes. IMG_6771-2 Next, we needed to paint them. A great and fun method I use is mixing one egg yolk, a teaspoon of water and a few drops of food coloring to make “paint” to put on the cookies BEFORE you bake them. Kids really get into this part. IMG_6777-2 IMG_6784-2 Sorry bud, no way I am giving you a paintbrush saturated in food coloring. Just keep playing with the dough, K? IMG_6709-2 Here they are in progress of being painted… IMG_6787-2 IMG_6788-2 The best thing about sugar cookies is they don’t need to bake long at all. This recipe only took 6 minutes. This is helpful for antsy preschoolers who rarely have to wait for anything. Six minutes later… Done! IMG_6797-2 I think this is a pretty strong start for our family traditions. I’m sure more will be added as we go along and it warms my heart to know my kids will take some of these into their adulthood like I have. IMG_6619-2 IMG_6653-2 So here is the million dollar question (actually, more like $100): What is YOUR favorite holiday tradition? By simply commenting on this post and sharing your favorite tradition, you will be entered into a giveaway for a chance to win a $100 Macy’s gift card! Looking forward to hearing about all the traditions out there!

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211 replies
  1. denise a says:

    We have a Santa Claus and a snowman candle holder that have been in our family for over 100 years. They wear their age well, but still show the ravages of time. It is a blessing to unpack and show them to each new generation. They remind of us of our past and give us hope for the future. Who knows, maybe they will still be around at Christmas 100 years from now.

  2. Jane H says:

    Every Christmas Eve, my husband reads the night before Christmas. It began with our small children and milk, graduated to our grown children and wine and is now with our 1st grandchild and formula.

  3. Michelle Tucker says:

    I have been saving my favorite Christmas tradition for the last of these I was entering. My mother and I used to wake in the middle of the night (usually the night after we put the tree up) and make some hot chocolate and just sit and watch the pretty lights on the tree. This was me and mom time, and it was my favorite tradition. Mom passed away two years ago, but I will keep doing this, because she’s still with me, in my heart. Missing her today.

  4. Betty C says:

    We always baked huge amounts of holiday cookies so that anyone who came to our door was given cookies. Now my daughter and granddaughter do the same.

  5. Stephanie Larison says:

    Baking and decorating sugar cookies with the kids! I remember doing it with my mom, and we’ve started doing it with my 5 year old. Next year, our newest addition will be able to help out, too!

  6. Tabathia B says:

    I enjoy watching a christmas story with my family, making cookies for santa and then building a gingerbread house

    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

  7. Becky Moore says:

    We read the story of Jesus’s birth on Christmas Eve Eve and then ‘Twas the Night before Christmas’ on Christmas Eve.

  8. Kerry says:

    My favorite tradition is that we always go to church Christmas Eve and come home after mass and open our gifts. Santa always comes while we are at church:)

  9. jules m. says:

    we make tons of cutout sugar cookies too! me and my kids decorate them and then we give a bunch out to family and friends. we love to listen to Christmas music as we bake.

  10. angie says:

    My favorite holiday tradition is definitely the special foods we make only one time a year. I look forward to our smokey maple BBQ vegetarian meatballs and smoked gouda fondue every year!

  11. Wendi says:

    Favorite Tradition is to go do the Chirstmas Walk in the metro parks where the path is lit with beautiful Christmas Lights its just a Winter Wonderland!

  12. Anastasia Falling says:

    Our only real tradition is to get everyone bundled up in the car and to drive around town and look at all the lights and holiday decorations 🙂 We love to admire all the beauty and hard work that people put int to their holiday decorating 🙂

  13. Taryn T. says:

    We have beautiful wooden advent calendars for each of the kids. They have different wooden doors, with all sizes. I love finding the perfect presents for each door,and love watching the kids find the prizes each morning.

  14. Linda G. says:

    My favorite thing is to drive around our town and see all the Christmas decorations and than go home and have hot chocolate and cookies

  15. Shirley martinez says:

    I enjoy Creating keepsake ornaments with my daughter . It’s her 2nd Christmas and I can’t wait til we are able to fill our tree with just keepsakes.

  16. Erika JM says:

    Our tradition is watching movies and cartoons together on Xmas morning after breakfast, then opening the gifts. We also make mint chocolate fudge too. Very good.

  17. mickeyfan says:

    Every year I put out one special stocking. It’s larger than many, but very meaningful. My eldest was born on 12/21 and when he was brought to me to take home, the nurse brought him into the room inside the stocking!

  18. Ceinwyn R says:

    Our boys are so young we are still making new traditions but I love letting them open a present of jammies and a stuffy on Christmas Eve.

  19. Margaret Smith says:

    One of my favorite traditions is that my kids, husband and I decorate a couple of Gingerbread houses. We buy the premade type and then we decorate. We make a mess, but it’s really fun and we all look forward to it each year.

  20. Stephanie V. says:

    celebrating with extended family on Christmas eve and each child picking out an ornament for the tree each year
    tvollowitz at aol dot com

  21. Dawn Keenan says:

    Our favorite tradition begins on Thanksgiving day. That night we start the season by watching the cartoon Grinch. Then on Christmas eve, we watch it again, laughing over our grinchy moments, and sharing our blessings.

  22. kathy s. says:

    We opened presents, went to church, and then to our aunt and uncle’s house to have dinner. We had to bring as many toys as we could smuggle into the car for the ride, to play with and to show our cousins.

  23. Matt says:

    Opening presents, of course! But mainly seeing the expressions on my family’s faces when they get something they’ve been wanting. It never gets old!

  24. Hannah R. says:

    Christmas morning is spent lounging around, slowly opening presents one at a time, and simply enjoying the time with one another!

  25. Jess says:

    This being our first Christmas with our little, I’m trying to find that balance between fun tradition and over-hyping, over programming. I’m looking forward to baking, of course! He LOVED putting up the lights with dad (he has a very mechanical little mind) and I’m really looking forward to attending service with him and then serving in our church as a family together on Christmas Eve. I can’t say there’s one thing that will be the standout. Just having him home is good enough:).

  26. Linda says:

    Our traditions have taken different paths through the years, as sometimes we travel to family and the kids are now older…but two that we have been able to keep is to drive around and look at the festive lights and Keep Christ in the middle everything we do – whether that is advent devotions, or simply reading the Bible together on Christmas eve or morning.

  27. melanie says:

    We have several traditions, but the first one my hubby and I chose to do together is to go out to a tree farm to find and cut our own Christmas tree. Some years it has been pricey, and some years we had to settle for a pre-cut… but we try our best and always enjoy a real tree!

  28. Jaci Cathcart says:

    Making cinnamon rolls Christmas morning, decorating them with sprinkles and candles. We gather around and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and then the kids get to blow out the candles. =) Also going to the candle light service at church on Christmas Eve. It’s always such a beautiful time.

  29. Erika says:

    We like driving around to look at Christmas lights, baking cookies, and watching old movies by the glow of the Christmas tree. 🙂


  30. Beverly says:

    I love cutting down a tree every year with my hubby. It is one thing that we have done every single year since we were married.

  31. og says:

    My favorite christmas tradition is watching all the classic Christmas cartoons like Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman and more!

  32. Ginger says:

    We go and see Christmas lights then come home and have hot cocoa. Living in the South we are sometimes wearing shorts but we still have hot cocoa.

  33. Pia says:

    Every Christmas Eve, my family (of about 24 this year celebrating together, cousins and all) take part in a Secret Santa gift exchange. We make sure to come together at Thanksgiving to draw names and write wishlists, and again on Christmas Even to exchange gifts.

  34. Carol Luciano says:

    Wwhen my 7 were little e alwways had a basket of Christmas books in a basket and would read a story eveery night starting 22 weks before Chistmas. And also the baking, the mess, the fun aand then all those gooddies.:). Decorate with Christmas music. Now theey pass it on to their on children. Thanks for ssharing you geat pictures.
    Carol L

  35. Robin Franklin says:

    We have followed my husband’s family’s traditional homemade tacos on Christmas Eve. Now that our daughters are married and have their own families, we still get together every Christmas Eve for tacos.

  36. Pamela Gurganus says:

    My favorite holiday tradition is on Christmas Eve, we eat homemade pizza on the fine china and drink whatever beverage were having out of the crystal, we then play games while listening to holiday music, break out a big box of chocolate and munch on those, then about a hour before midnight, we sit down and read The Night Before Christmas then everyone heads home to get the kids in bed before midnight!

  37. Megan H says:

    We have always gone to a Christmas Eve service and we open 1 present that night. My husband’s family does the same thing so it is nice no matter which family we our with, the tradition continues.

  38. Rosie says:

    Following the tradition of my mom with an all-edible decorated tree! String popcorn and cranberries and make decorated sugar cookies esp gingerbread men & ladies, popcorn balls, candy canes, satchels of gold chocolate coins, the list goes on and on. It is fun to get edible treats for the tree, then it isn’t so bad taking the tree down after Christmas, as we get to eat it all (well, whatever we haven’t snitched)!!

  39. Mary says:

    Growing up, my whole neighborhood lined their driveways & sidewalks with paper bag luminaries on Christmas Eve. It was so beautiful to walk/drive thru the neighborhood & think of it as lighting the way for Baby Jesus to come to each & every home! I have luminaries to start the tradition in my new home. Maybe I will see if I can make the tradition grow in this neighborhood :-).

  40. Stacy Moss says:

    Last year we started a new tradition. On Christmas Eve our doorbell rang and on the front porch was a storage tub with a note from Purple the Elf. He had filled the tub with family games, hot chocolate, marshmallows, popcorn and a set of Christmas jammies for everyone. My preschooler loved it and my older kids even enjoyed it, as they were in on the secret. I’ve already got this year’s box planned and about ready!

  41. Charity says:

    My favorite tradition is advent with our children 3 and 5. Each year they get a little older and put the pieces together more and more. It’s so much fun to see their faces when they start to put it all together about the birth of Jesus! Then spending all those traditional holiday moments with family. Christmas especially seems to make us all slow down and enjoy “little moments” with our families.

  42. Kelly D says:

    I enjoy decorating the Christmas tree with the help of my 2 kids every year. We just did this today, since they had a snow day.

  43. Natalie says:

    We love baking Christmas cookies together. Also we drink egg nog and sing ‘O Christmas Tree’ while we set up our tree! We keep a list of Christmas traditions packed in our ornament box so we can remember what we loved the year and wanted to continue.

  44. Kristen says:

    We’d read aloud from a book called Santa Mouse, then we’d decorate the tree with a yellow light at the top (just like in the book) so Santa Mouse could be sure to find his way to our house.

  45. Julie Wood says:

    My favorite Holiday Tradition is to go get our Christmas Tree at a tree farm. We make it a day by getting in the Car and listening to Christmas Music on the way and spending the whole day decorating the tree together as a family. It is so much fun.

  46. Melanie B says:

    At 18 months, my daughter is already old enough to enjoy the lights. So we try to find some to drive by often this time of year! It’s so much fun to hear her oooh and aaah at them!

  47. Nicole says:

    Our family tradition involves decorating the outside of the house with tons of Christmas décor and lights, we also deck out the inside of the home to together.

  48. savanna green says:

    Since my husband and I began dating, way back in high school, we’ve exchanged one small gift on Christmas Eve and one gift on Christmas Day. Even if it’s just a bag of his favorite candy or a fun pair of socks for me…. I get giddy thinking about it as we drive home from Christmas Eve church service.

  49. Jen Garrett says:

    So many sweet traditions to choose from, but probably my favorite right now is opening Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve.

  50. Alissa says:

    My favorite holiday tradition is candy making/making treat plates with my Mom and Sister and delivering them to friends/family/my teachers(as a child).

  51. Kristi says:

    We buy an ornament every year that represents a fun memory from the past year. It’s so fun to pull out the ornaments from past years and remember together.

    • Polly says:

      We do this too! Sometimes it’s a challenge to find the right one but it’s so fun every year to pull them out and recall stories!

  52. Michelle O. says:

    My favorite thing we did when I was younger is bake cookies with my mom. We are continuing it with our kids. We also love watching Christmas movie as a family (with my parents and siblings). Our favorites are Christmas Vacation and White Christmas.

  53. Haley B. says:

    Christmas Eve we wear our PJ’s inside-out and do a snow day dance!!!
    Then we hope hope hope for snow on Christmas morning 🙂

  54. Kristel Sexton says:

    One of my favorite family holiday traditions is our celebration of Wilgilia, Polish Christmas Eve. We eat a lot of fish and pierogi, fruit compote and peas (which I don’t think have anything to do with Wilgilia). The best part is when we break the opłatek (Christmas wafer) and share pieces with each other. As we do, we hug, and the idea is that you forgive your family members for any wrongdoing of the past year and enter the new year with forgiveness and love in your heart.

  55. Christine says:

    One our families most favorite of all holiday traditions is piling up in the car after dinner to take delight in the GORGEOUS LIGHTING decorations our community displays on their homes and yards!

  56. Gail says:

    Baking and decorating Christmas cookies when my kids were still at home. Now my tradition is buying my grandkids fun Christmas PJ’s!