This post contains affiliate links. See more information.
My favorite time of the year is from Thanksgiving to Christmas! I love everything about the “most wonderful time of the year” including the shopping on Black Friday, the food, the music, the cool, brisk air (AKA “sweater weather”, and all of the extra time spent with family and friends! Since having our own kids, we have crafted our own family traditions that we plan to continue doing together for years to come!!!
ALSO NOTE: This post was written when I was a mom of 2. I have slightly updated it in 2022 now that I am a mom of 4, but I’ll say that we haven’t been able to do all of these things every year. We have also moved back home to Texas to be close to family and it was the best decision we ever made, so our time is busier now with family, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Last year, when I had a 5 month old, 1.5 year old, 4, and 6 year old, we just kind of skated by. We did as many seasonal activities as we could (really only because my older kids begged for it) but I was just not in a season that I could devote this much time to activities. Depending on where you may be in your motherhood journey, just know that there are seasons for everything that will constantly change!
We start talking about Thanksgiving at the beginning of November, and one tradition we have started is to make a Thankful tree. Each day, we try to add something we are thankful for to a leaf on the tree. We read books such as Thankful, and talk about how important it is to be thankful for the things, people, and opportunities we have in our lives.
The tree above was from last year! This year, I found a tree kit at Target (pictured below, no longer available) and we are using that this year and will do the turkey that was included when we finish the tree!
On Thanksgiving Day, we try to watch the parade on TV (even though we live 50 blocks away and could go see it in person if we wanted to! but generally the cold deters us from going out — we sometimes go to the balloon inflation the night before!)
Before having kids, we always traveled home to Texas for Thanksgiving, but since having kids we have decided to avoid traveling on the busiest travel days of the year. We miss our families when we are not together for the holidays, but have found that summer travel is SO much easier with kids. We plan lots of summer trips to visit family, and enjoy cozy time in our own home for the holidays. Usually November and December end up full of family members and friends coming to visit us in NYC, which is always so much fun. Everyone loves to come experience the Christmas season in NYC!
Our food traditions for Thanksgiving are still coming together, but we have ordered Thanksgiving dinner on the years we have had tiny babies and we have also done fried chicken from KFC+ homemade sides from Trader Joe’s. I’m not sure what we will do this year, because the KFC themed dinner was awesome and our KFC closed recently!
Advent Calendar + Activities
Last year, I started an Advent Calendar Tradition! I came up with 25 days of activities, wrote them all down, and put each one in the pocket of an advent calendar that is also one of our Christmas decorations!
This is the advent calendar I have, but there are more ideas below:
Here are some of the activities, most are pictured below the list:
Advent Calendar Ideas
- Make a Christmas countdown chain
- Make and send Christmas cards to grandparents
- Letters to Santa
- Hot Chocolate
- Holiday movie night
- Salt Dough ornaments
- Gingerbread house
- Photos with Santa
- Caroling/learning Christmas songs
- Family game night
- Christmas Cookie party
- Make Christmas fudge to give as gifts
- Make paper snowflakes
- Build a paper plate/cotton ball snowman
- Read The Polar Express and draw a picture of the Polar Express
- Build the North Pole out of blocks/legos
- What’s Special at Night walk with lights at Columbia
- Collecting food for food pantry
- Cooking food for homeless
- Holiday toy list — go through Target book and circle/cut out favorites
- Snow window sensory play — contact paper sticky on windows or other location, stick on cotton pads, balls, q tips to make snow things, and/or snowman snack: make snowmen out of raisins, cheerios, and marshmallows!
- Make “cave of stars” use big box to make a fort and poke Christmas lights through the top
- Snowman bowling… make snowmen with TP tubes and roll over with ball!
- Christmas Eve — cookies for Santa + Snowy Day movie or other Christmas movie…
- Christmas morning!
On Christmas Eve, we spend the day together as a family! Attending Christmas Eve service, snuggling up with matching PJs, and making cookies for Santa are all exciting things we have done on Christmas Eve.
One year, we did a big Christmas Eve lunch, so for dinner we just had Trader Joe’s frozen appetizers (pictured below) while we played Santa after the kids were in bed!
Christmas is my favorite day of the year! We spend the day together eating, relaxing, playing, and just enjoying the season!
New Years Rockin’ Eve
After Christmas, we still get to look forward to New Years! I love planning a “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” Party for the kids that ends by 8!! Activities we do include:
- Making a cake that we will later eat prior to our countdown party!
- Playing a family game
- Dancing to songs like “Cupid Shuffle”
- Cooking/Eating Dinner together
- Watching a slideshow of the best photos of the year and remembering all the fun things we did together as a family
- Eating the cake! It’s fun to play Auld Lang Syne and blow out candles at the end!
- Watch the ball drop around 7/7:30 (youtube has videos from prior years! and also maybe a fireworks show!) and then brush teeth and go to bed!!!