5 Fun Holiday Traditions for the Family

I love the holiday season, and it’s hard to deny that I’m the one in the family who demands that we stick to tradition. This year, I’m looking forward to several of our long-standing traditions, as well as a few newer fun holiday traditions.

Holiday traditions for families | Christmas traditions for toddlers, preschoolers and young children

Advent Calendar


The Advent Calendar is a new tradition for us this year. My mom gave Emme an adorable Advent calendar, and we started opening the doors on Monday. Behind each door is an ornament to decorate Emme’s own tiny tree. I love this, and Emme seems to be into it. However, with a two year old, the following conversation was required on days one and two: You can only open one today… only one… only one… hang the ornament… only one… you can open the next one tomorrow… oh look shiny thing over here! On day three, she seemed to “get it,” and we didn’t have quite the negotiation over opening more than one door.

Breakfast with Santa

breakfast with Sant

In 2012, we celebrated our first Christmas with baby Emery. Excited to make some new holiday memories with our little one (who had no idea what was going on), we took her to Breakfast with Santa at the Brookfield Zoo. We went again last year, and we made it an official tradition by signing up to go again this year. The actual photo with Santa did not go well last year. We’ll see how that goes this year.

Simbang Gabi

Simbang Gabi is Filipino for “night mass,” and in the Philippines is a series of daily Catholic masses during the nine days leading up to Christmas Eve. In the Chicago area, various Catholic churches participate in a traveling Simbang Gabi mass, and the church around the corner from our house holds the mass on the third Saturday of December. My husband’s family is Filipino and for six years (and despite the fact that we’re not particularly religious), we’ve been attending this celebration. It’s always followed by a big Filipino dinner, which is a highlight of the holiday season for me.

Christmas Eve Dinner

My family has always gone out to dinner on Christmas Eve. It’s a tradition my mom started, and for years, we went to an Italian restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. Now that we spend Christmas in Chicago, we’ve tried a few different restaurants, but this year we’re heading back to The Chew Chew in Riverside for the second time. Maybe that will become the tradition? Time will tell.

Christmas Day

We always have brunch on Christmas Day (this year my sister is hosting), and for several years now, it’s tradition to make this Baked French Toast recipe, which literally has corn syrup in it. I’m not a sweet breakfast person, but this is so worth it once a year. We’ve also decided to start a new tradition this year–an informal Christmas dinner. In the past, we’ve done a more formal Christmas dinner, but after brunch then celebrating with my husband’s side of the family with a big lunch, we’ve decided that we’re going to do soup and sandwiches or something similarly simple for dinner with my sister, her family, my mom, and her husband. I think a holiday movie might also be in order.

Do you have fun holiday traditions? Are you making any new ones this year?

Happy, Healthy Holiday Tips

I’ll be taking a break from writing extremely long blogs about blogging today, and instead, I will point you to a post I wrote on the Fit4Mom blog about healthy holiday tips.

Healthy Holiday Tips

This week, I talked to our Fit4Mom instructors who provided some great tips about staying healthy and on track during the holidays, which start in one week with Thanksgiving, take us through the December holidays, and end on January 1 when we all decide we can do better than this.

There are a lot of “stay on track during the holiday” tips out there, but I thought the instructors had some great ideas (numbers 5 and 7 are my favorites), so check it out.