Holiday Traditions (My Style)

Martha Stewart I am not. Nor am I Mrs. Claus. But I like to think I've achieved something in between. See, I LOVE to decorate and when the holiday season beckons us to "deck the halls" I am eager to begin the bedecking. And I think I've come up with some pretty festive displays over the years that also showcase what the holidays are all about to me: family.

My first one started by accident. My daughter (my real life Holiday Barbie) was born just a week before Christmas. From that year on, I've put the kids in matching Christmas pajamas (they get on Christmas Eve) and take a photo. Then I frame it in a holiday frame (always on sale in the weeks after Christmas). After years of doing this, I have a darling exhibition of holiday photographs I garnish with garland and candles for all to see. In my opinion, it's one of the showstoppers in the house every year when I dig them out of storage. Not to mention a meaninful timeline of their growth...

Another favorite, that's also on the inexpensive side, souvenir ornaments on the tree. Every year when we decorate it's like a trip down memory lane. Each ornament represents a trip we took together and we get to relive it together. There are always funny anecdotes that surface.

I also put holiday themed flannel sheets on all the beds, which are both cozy physically and emotionally as the chilly nights leading to Christmas come and go.

Collecting nutcrackers is another holiday tradition that continues to build. They're one of my passions as a former ballerina that I've passed onto my kids now, and they seem to really like it. We don't go for the authentic ones of course, that would be too costly...but the ones from Target at $12.99 do just fine in setting the seasonal mood, as well as, give the children a chance to express their own personalities. They come in everything from football players to hula you can imagine their sophisticated collectibles!

For all the holidays, but Christmas expecially, I've started a holiday library for the kids...and they're the suppliers. Each year, I take them to a local bookstore and they get to pick out one book for the we have a slew of them. And everynight leading up to Christmas the kids pick one or two out and we read them together. It's like Christmas morning early when we open the box every year and remember all the stories from previous years!

We also always use an advent calendar, make one of those 10-buck gingerbread houses from Michael's, go to the Hotel Del to see the decorations and ice skate, and try to TIVO as many holiday movies on tv to watch together.

It's a wonderful time - and you can do it on a dime... and you'll feel richer for it.

So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays....from Hanukkah to a Happy New Year..and the Kwanzaa in between!




Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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