13 Old-School Christmas Traditions We Passed On to Our Kids


As you may know, I tend to overdose on nostalgia. I love family traditions, and in my family, we had a lot of them. Christmas was like a Bing Crosby television special. Family and friends filled my grandparents’ home with love, good cheer, an abundance of food, and classic traditions that live on in my family to this day! It’s a warm and wonderful feeling to enjoy the classic traditions that have been passed down through generations, and to create new ones to enjoy for many years to come.


Here is our list of the best classic old-school traditions that everyone can count on this Christmas season.

1. Sitting on Santa’s Lap

Have you been naughty or nice? This time-honored tradition was (and still is) a big deal in our home. My mum would dress my sister and me up in fancy Christmas dresses to take that faithful trip to see the Big Guy. We would go through our J.C. Penney and Sears catalogs with our eyes all aglow, marking the pages filled with all of the toys we wanted. Great memories indeed!

2. Baking Cookies from Scratch

Are those cookies homemade? They’d better be! No cookies from a box in our house. Growing up, we would begin baking the first weekend in December and freeze all of the cookies in decorative tins until Christmas, when they would be given out to friends and family at parties as gifts. Dozens of sweet confections, such as thumbprints and sugar cookies, made our kitchen smell delectable! The tradition lives on!

3. Mailing Christmas cards

Every Christmas my mum and grandma would sit down in the evening and write a handwritten note in every Christmas card they sent. They would buy their pack of cards at the end of the season at 50% off (I still do the same). Then, when cards would arrive in the mail from loved ones, my grandma would tape the cards around the giant door frame leading into her dining room. Nothing compares to this wonderful, personal tradition.

4. Decorating the Christmas Tree


This was a family affair in my home growing up. My dad would put together the artificial tree and string the lights on and mum would recruit all of the kids to help put the decorations on. I remember stringing popcorn with my sisters and making quilted bulbs, a tradition we have continued.

5. Christmas Music on the “hi-fi”

My parents and grandparents always had the hi-fi going during the holidays. It was so festive and warm all the time. Well, we don’t have the hi-fi anymore, but that hasn’t stopped us from playing Christmas music throughout the house the entire month of December! We spin the old-school classics by Bing Crosby, the Carpenters, Nat King Cole, and Andy Williams. Can you say kitchen dance party?

6. Saying “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year”

The war on Christmas seems to always be raging. You see it every year. Some atheist gets upset because there is even a hint of God on the lawn of the community center. Even some retailers join in the assault on the holiday. Well, when we grew up, everyone said Merry Christmas and it was awesome! Saying the beloved phrase is back in fashion and in our family, we say Merry Christmas to everyone and spread cheer wherever we can.

7. Writing Out Your Christmas List for Santa

Every year my sister and I would write a letter to Santa listing all of the gifts we wanted him to bring us for Christmas. Written in sweet kid handwriting, our parents would take it to our mailbox to be sent to the North Pole. I do this with my children and it’s a tradition that warms my heart.


8. Annual Christmas Party

Every year my parents had an annual Christmas party. Family and friends would arrive, filling our home with laughter and lots of love. The kitchen and dining room was overflowing with all kinds of food and we would eat until our pants burst! The adults would make funky mixed drinks like whiskey sours and Tom Collins’. Don’t forget the maraschino cherries!

9. Snow on Christmas Day

I swear we had about a foot of snow every single Christmas. We would wake up to a winter wonderland and would go sledding after we opened our presents, probably wearing the new, color-changing gloves we just got. If we get any snow this year, my kids will do the same. Must be global warming.

10. Watching the Christmas Specials on Television

When we were little, my sisters and I would look in our TV Guide to see when the Christmas specials would be on, and then we would watch them as a family. “Rudolph,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “The Grinch,” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” are just a few of our beloved classics. I now do the same with my children. It’s such a delight to see them get excited to watch these classics and to share memories with them that are so near and dear to my heart.

11. Pork and Sauerkraut for New Year’s Day

Every year my family had pork and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes for New Year’s dinner—for luck. As much as it stunk up the house, it was delicious! I have kept the tradition alive with my family. Creating this memory is priceless!


12. Cards in the Christmas Tree

My grandparents started the tradition of putting any cards filled with cold hard cash into the Christmas tree. If you saw your name on one of these envelopes, you knew you had scored some green! A tradition I do to this day.

13. Reading “The Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve

This is a tradition that I created for my children. Every year since they were born, we have read “The Night Before Christmas.” It’s such a classic story and after we read it we leave out our cookies for Santa. They all look forward to it every year.

What are some family traditions that you look forward to? Leave me a comment and let me know!



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