Traditions are a huge part of the holiday season for us! I usually start planning them out in October because there are so many things that we like to do between Thanksgiving and Christmas and we want to ensure we have enough time for everything in addition to our regularly scheduled activities. Some of our favorites:
We love seeing Santa, and this year we went to the Duke Energy Explorium (nothing like Christmas at the nuclear power plant!) to meet him! Everybody got an assortment of snacks and then we waited for the big guy to make his entrance.
Meeting Santa and letting him know their Christmas wishes. On our way out we checked out the exhibits and learned about nuclear power.
We always eat at Viva Chicken before watching "Christmas with the Kranks" (since it's Peruvian and the daughter goes to Peru).
Enjoying our ice cream sundaes-- like in "Home Alone 2" and green jello and egg nog-- like in "Christmas Vacation". And of course, coffee in Christmas mugs (especially Disney ones!!) all of the time.
While my Christmas shopping is typically done by Thanksgiving, we still go to the mall for last minute shopping-- or in Ellie's case, try to convince Dad to buy her cowgirl apparel. And Target is a very regular occurrence made even more festive by the Christmas decor!
Every year we have a "Santa Clause" movie marathon and watch all three movies in one day. In between 1 & 2, we go to Denny's for dinner in Christmas pajamas ("Everybody likes Denny's, it's an American institution!") and manage to entertain the entire restaurant.
We make sure to spend extra time playing-- especially with family that is in town for Christmas that we don't get to play with very often. Grandpa is definitely the favorite playmate since he gets down on the floor and plays-- and even wears ladybug wings!
On the longest night of the year we have our annual "Elf" dinner by candlelight. Just like in the movie, we make sure that everything is extra sweet (the pancakes and noodles are both covered in syrup, sprinkles and whipped cream!) and balance it out with a bit of bacon.
We make peanut butter blossoms and somebody always unwraps too many Hershey kisses and we have to eat the extras.
Grandpa and Grandpa get the kids a new ornament every year. This year, Christopher's was a burrito since he loves Chipotle so much!
Nick's was Sheldon from "Big Bang Theory" since we joke that Nick is so Sheldon-like. And Ben got a "Jingle Bell Rock" since he loves rocks-- and really wanted a musical ornament.
They picked out a "Marie" ornament for Lexie and she was so excited!
And Miss Ellie got the cutest little fox ornament since she's obsessed with foxes in an effort to be like her big sis.
While it's not technically a tradition, Ellie finally let me french braid her hair!
More playtime with Grandpa!
When they're in town for Christmas, Grandma gets tasked with making the sugar cookies and the little kids LOVE to help her.
And then we spend the afternoon frosting cookies and having fun.
We watch "Holiday Inn" every year and pick a different holiday to celebrate for dinner-- this year we picked 4th of July and had cheeseburgers and hotdogs.
And when we watch "A Christmas Story," we always have takeout Chinese (though this year, we had Thai and figured it's close enough).
Our elf Sandy likes to participate in our traditions and made elf sized peanut butter blossoms while everyone was asleep!