christmas this year was a good one.

my kids and i spent a few weeks in arizona soaking up grandparents, and aunts and uncles and the beautiful space to run and play and breathe.

IMG_1381we love san diego, of course, who doesn’t? but i almost forget how homesick i am until i am there, and up late playing with family and dear friends we wish we lived close to. we loved every minute we spent there, my kids did, and my family who helped take care of us seemed to as well.

since our family is still small and we have no space to stay here and feel like it’s christmas on our own yet, we love going home and gleaning from our family’s traditions that are new and old.

i’m going to let you in on a few of our tradidions {that we get to be a part of by birth or marriage} and then hopefully, you can let me know some of your family’s traditions. especially those you have started with your own little family. we are hoping to make this year special and i obviously need to plan ahead to make that happen!

here’s a few of ours:

{i apologize in advance for the iphone-only photos. i really need to be better at bringing the real camera and taking real photos…}

· my mom does “christmas eve eve” parties, generally to accommodate all the in-laws, but they always have a theme, involve games, caroling to our select neighbors that expect us, and opening a clever shirt/jammies to wear for the following few days without showering. this year the theme was “ELF.” and it was epic. we were celebrating a new to-be SIL at our house, so we had to have it early while they were there. we know how to party, is all i’m sayin…

· though we are not sure how to make this one stick, one of the most magical moments of christmas was before our “eve eve” party, my niece McKenna showed up to my moms with a cast list and her plans to direct our family in the nativity. she, of course, would be mary, and boston, of course, was to be joseph. my parents were [obviously] shepherds, two of my brothers and my 2 year old nephew clearly needed to be wise men… and most of the girls [including reese] were angels. it was both hysterical and endearing and we were all beaming by the end of the night. the best part: after weeks of trying to teach my 3 year old all about how Jesus was born and where and when…etc. it finally stuck. he wouldn’t stop talking about it all week. he still tells me, “mom, Jesus was born in a stable. the shepherds came to see him cause they followed a huge huge star!” after that fun night, and lots of laughing watching the video, we decided we needed to find a way to make that happen always… we’ll see if the magic is even recreate-able.


IMG_1268· my MIL does this fantastic tradition of taking us girls {her 3 daughters + me, the one and only daughter-in-law} on a girls-only shopping spree for our own clothes/christmas presents. she usually gifts us a new purse {which, admittedly is way cuter than anything i would pick out so it becomes the one i use all year until i get a new one…} and some cash to shop. after a few hours and we’ve all spent our cash, we relinquish our finds to mom who wraps them for christmas. she’s a genius. it definitely helps her out to pick out our own things, it makes for a really fun afternoon, and we are all so grateful. sometimes we do it over thanksgiving so we’ve forgotten by christmas what we pick out. also fun.

· one that my MIL and i just decided this year will now be a tradition is a trip to Bass Pro Shop. we heard it was a fun place to go check out at christmas, but little did we know it has my kid’s name ALL. OVER. IT. so many outdoorsy toys, and stuff out to play with, santa {the real one!} to come sit on and let him give you candy, and a free ride on a carousel… we did some secret shopping, entertained them a while… and even got to ring the salvation army bell on the way out. {BTW, ringing the bell for a day was a tradition for a few years in my family growing up. we’d bring guitars and sing and draw a crowd! that will be on our list to add this next year for sure…}

· girlfriend party. i can’t always attend this reunion of my awesome girlfriends from high school, but i did this year. my sides hurt for days laughing at the games, and we always have a gift exchange and stay up way late like we are all still teenagers and able to do so. it’s awesome. i love these girls so much and look forward to it enough that it motivated me to drive the 6 hours by myself with two kids to be there in time. my gift was kind of the winner. i gave a selfie stick of course!


· christmas eve party. this year, my husband’s family hosted it at their house and we were asked to dress as if christmas threw up on us… so we did. and it was another fun night with musical performances by some of the cousins, a reading of the nativity story, and good food. my mom already had the stuff to make these elf hats but ran out of time, so i whipped up a few and we went as elves.


· cabin time. my in-laws have a cabin in the mountains and after christmas we head up there for a few days, and santa visits again!! it’s crazy how much my kids are spoiled, being the only g-kids on my husband’s side, but we don’t complain. and it’s lots of fun to feel like christmas doesn’t have to end right away… we go shooting, ride quads, play games {when i can convince them out of just watching movies every night…} it’s tons of fun.


so that’s the bulk of OUR traditions…

here’s the thing, one of my my sisters-in-law, who has barely been married one year {tomorrow actually!}, left early on christmas eve to go home, saying they had some of their own traditions to take care of. meaning, just the two of them {and her cute baby bump}! we spent that evening talking about what we could do as a small family to start our own traditions. and after talking to another sister-in-law with kids our same ages who DID stay home in their small apt in LA for christmas, we learned that there’s about a million fun things you can do to make it magical, even if there isn’t a crowd.

so tell me, what do you do with your little families to make Christmas more magical?