Merry Christmas, Y’all!
It’s officially countdown time. There’s only 6 days until Christmas!
You don’t have to follow me for long to know that Christmas is my favorite time of year for many reasons. But, one of them includes all of the traditions my family and I have had over the years. This Christmas is Rob and I’s fourth Christmas together and our second Christmas spent as a married couple. It’s been super exciting (and nostalgic!) seeing how our two sets of traditions have been coming together into forming our own. While we will see over time how our traditions will actually come to stick, I’d love to share with you the traditions that I have grown up with and what we do together as a little family!
Our Christmas Traditions
(and Christmas Traditions for the Family!)
Christmas Cookies + Hot Cocoa
Christmas cookies have always been a huge tradition in my family, and my grandma has the best cookie recipe ever. (Like, I promise it’s way better than your grandma’s recipe!) Ever since I could remember, my grandparents and I would have a cookie day a couple weeks before Christmas where we would bake and decorate cookies all day. (and I can promise you, there were never any left-over cookies each year!) Decorating the cookies would always turn into an icing fight with my grandpa which then gave my grandma a heart attack when it was time to clean up. It also always turned into ‘accidentally’ breaking them while decorating so then you were ‘forced’ to eat it – if you get what I’m saying!
Decorating cookies with my grandparents is probably, hands-down, one of my favorite memories from my childhood. I don’t think I really realized how much it was until last year when I tried doing it without them to have something to do with my husband’s family while they were visiting us. Although I got extremely nostalgic and even shed a little tear from missing my family that holiday season, it was cute to see a 3 and 10 year old have the same kind of fun that I did at their age. They came out a little messy, but they sure were delicious!
Also, like many families (I’m sure!), hot cocoa was also something that coincided with each Christmas activity. However, this is something that I’ve truly taken and made my own with the easiest crockpot hot cocoa recipe. It’s rich, creamy, and oh-so sweet and indulgent. Although I more improvise when it comes to how sweet and creamy I want it, here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it yourself!
My Favorite, Easy Crockpot Hot Cocoa Recipe
- 1.5 cups: Heavy Whipping Cream
- 14 oz can: Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 6 cups: Milk – I usually do skim milk, but use whatever milk you normally buy!
- 1.5 tsp: Vanilla
- 2 cups: Chocolate Chips
Pour all your ingredients in a crockpot and whisk together until well combined. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is hot and all of the chocolate is melted. BOOM. EASY AND DELICIOUS. If you end up trying this recipe, let me know how much you loved it in a comment below!
Now, I usually like to fill my crockpot completely to have enough hot cocoa for all of my guests. Thus, I usually improvise by just changing to 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and enough milk to fill the crockpot to the top rather than only 6 cups. I also layer the bottom of the crockpot with two whole packages of the dark chocolate chips. (Have I told you I really like chocolate?) You can choose whichever type of chocolate chips that make you happy, but I have found that using only milk chocolate chips makes it almost too sweet for my liking.
Does your family have any of those blacklisted games that you’re not allowed to play with each other because it always turned into fight or screaming match? Well, we do, and it’s definitely Pictionary. For Rob’s family, surprisingly enough, it’s Monopoly. Just like Christmas cookies, the game Pictionary was a huge tradition (more like battle) my family had pretty much every Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
If you’ve never played Pictionary, it’s actually quite simple. Basically, you drawing something from a word given to you on a card, and your team has to guess what it is while you’re drawing before the time runs out. It’s extremely stressful (especially if you’ve had a few), but the victory is oh-so much sweeter than my hot cocoa recipe. We’ve always had an equal number of boys and girls play with us, so what’s better than having a yearly battle between the sexes in a highly competitive family? (Everything – don’t follow in our footsteps for the sake of your own family dynamic!) For years it would always be my brother, father, and grandpa against me, my mother, and grandma. It also went the same way every year:
We’d trash talk, play to the point of hating each other, do the next two traditions I talk about below, and then (just maybe) we were able to all be friends again in time for opening presents on Christmas.
While I talk about it like it was something that tore our family apart for a night, it really is also one of my favorite memories that I have with my whole family on Christmas. However, I think everything is just my favorite. Spoiler alert!
On Christmas Eve, every year after dinner (before we did the activity below!), we’d have the chance to open up the presents we got from our grandparents. In addition, if they weren’t given to us by our grandparents, we also got to open our new Christmas pajamas! If y’all know me in person, you’ll know how much my mom and I love pajamas. The pajamas ranged from year to year, and we only tried to really match one year. As you probably guessed, the boys didn’t like that idea as much. After dinner, we’d all change into our Christmas pajamas, meet back in the living room, and proceed to our next Christmas tradition!
The Christmas traditions in my family even encompass the specific movies that we watched each Christmas Eve! After Pictionary and receiving our Christmas pajamas, we’d all meet back in the living room to snuggle with the pups and have a Christmas movie marathon while we all munched on finger foods and snacks. We’d watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Scrooged, and Elf (if I could convince everyone!). After the movies were over, it’d be time for bed so Santa could come to our house.
On Christmas Eve, my mom and I would also proceed to wrap all of the Christmas gifts for the next morning while we are all gathered to watch Christmas movies. I have always loved to wrap presents and make them look almost too pretty to open, so my mom would save a huge bulk of the wrapping for us to do together. But before you think I then got to know all of the gifts we were opening the next morning – you’re wrong! My mother was so sneaky that she would switch the boxes of all the gifts into blank boxes or old boxes and only write who it was going to on the outside. So as you were wrapping, you had no idea what was inside!
Each person in my family even had a specific spot in the living room where they sat and opened gifts on Christmas Day. Once we were done wrapping, we’d organize the gifts around the living room in the specific spots so it was all ready for the next morning as glowing faces entered the living room ready for breakfast pizza (made each year by my grandmother!) and the opening of presents.
Needless to say, I will always hold these Christmas traditions of mine near and dear to my heart. I also got way too nostalgic typing this blog post! One of the things I am looking forward to, though, are all of the traditions I will make with Rob and our future family. I can only hope our children will look back like I am now and appreciate all that they were and hope for the same!
What are your family’s Christmas traditions? I’d love to hear them! Leave them in a comment below. 🙂