Dec 1st was the day my mom would put up the tree and decorate the house. She had so many knick-knacks and paddy-whacks. My favorite was little mini figurines of Mr & Mrs Claus kissing. (Did you get that, Mom? Put me down for those when you "check-out", will ya?)
An Orange and a Candy Cane. No matter how big the stocking stuffer or what sort of candy we got, we ALWAYS got 1 orange and 1 candy cane in our stocking on Christmas Morning.
Christmas Waffles. One year, my mom received a Waffle Iron for Christmas. We had waffles on Christmas morning EVERY year since.
Family Party. My dad's side would have a Christmas party every year. There was always a table for homemade candies. And after we ate, my grandma would pull out her caroling books and we'd sit around and sing.
Secret Santa. The 7 of us siblings drew names each year for secret santa. We still draw names today.
Foods that were typical around the holidays... Date Pudding. Boiled Custard Drink. Wassail. Caramel Corn. Waldorf Salad. Red or Green Finger Jell-O. Homemade Pie. I'm sure I am forgetting some.
The Nativity. Each year either on Christmas Eve or the Sunday just before Christmas, my mom would read us the story of the Nativity.
Christmas Race. If my parents woke up first on Christmas morning, my mom could either play her Christmas Records (Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby, etc) or carols loudly on the organ. If the kids woke up first, we would jump on my parents' bed and scream, "Merry Christmas!" I don't know how it started, but perhaps it was an incentive to get us to go to bed early. Oh - and the rule was no one could wake up before 4:30 am.
Youngest to Oldest. Christmas morning, we always took turns opening our gifts from youngest to oldest. I think one time we thought we'd change it up and we went from oldest to youngest. My youngest sister about wet her pants trying to be patient for her turn.
Here are some traditions I have continued or started with my own kids (NEW):
New PJ's. Each year on Christmas Eve my kids get to open a gift (selected by me). It is always a new pair of PJ's and a new pair of socks. This way, they get to look clean and fresh for Christmas morning (and all of those pictures).
Ornament. When I started my family almost 15 years ago, I had barely any ornaments and little money to speak of. I decided then that each year my kids would get 1 brand new ornament. Then, when they leave the house as adults, they will have their own collection.
Stockings. We have stockings and they are allowed to open those as soon as they wake up on Christmas morning. I always put their new ornament in there along with a small toy and their favorite candy. Additionally, I've started to include a mini box of cereal and juice pouch. This way, they can eat something besides Candy while I clean up the aftermath of presents.
Christmas Movies. Usually a night or two before Christmas we select a Christmas movie from our collection to watch.
Christmas Day Activity. Since my family is spread out, usually it's just us on Christmas. After opening up the gifts and eating a real meal (brunch or something), we either go to the movies or go sledding. Sort of depends on the budget and weather as to which one we do. But I try to make it a fun day.
That's about all I can think of for now. What traditions do you have???
Oh - and as a side note... we don't do the 4:30 am thing at my house. My rule is: You don't get Christmas till Mama wakes up. :)