The holidays are one of my favorite times of year. They're wrapped in traditions, time spent with friends and family, a focus on gratitude, and eating entirely too much food. We do the same thing each year, which I excitedly anticipate starting around October. On Christmas Eve, we go to our neighbor's house for cracked crab, champagne and bûche de Noël. We get home late, finish wrapping gifts and wake early for homemade buckwheat blini with caviar and crème fraîche. The rest of the morning is spent in our pajamas, opening presents and listening to our go-to tacky Christmas music. Friends filter in throughout the day for food and to sit in front of the fire and at one point, my dad and I always squeeze in a Love Actually viewing (last year he turned to me and said, "I just really love that Hugh Grant"). Our traditions are pretty set, but with the baby on the way, I love the idea of even incorporating new things to make the holidays even more special.
I was entirely blown away last month by the wonderful traditions that Cupcakes and Cashmere readers practice on Thanksgiving, and was confident you'd have some pretty great ones for Christmas and Hanukkah, too. I have to say, they did not disappoint (you can read them all on Facebook). Here's a roundup of some of my favorites.
"It's a running theme in my family that appetizers are the best part of a meal, so on Christmas Eve the four of us sit on the floor in the living room around the coffee table and have a meal entirely made of appetizers and watch Christmas movies in our pajamas." -Lisa Dicarlucci
"On the night of Christmas Eve (which also happens to be my mom's birthday), we all open 1 gift...our Christmas pajamas! Then we sleep in those, and typically spend all of Christmas day in them, as well." -Olivia Bellon
"For Hanukkah every year, my mom and I make and decorate sugar cookies in the shapes of dreidels, menorahs, and candles with fun sprinkles. Also, at least one of the nights each year, we read a book called "The Flying Latke." We pass the book around and everyone reads a page in their most outrageous Brooklyn accent. And for New Year's Eve, we always make fudge!" - Samantha Wapner
"We don't shop for ourselves starting October 1st. That always makes gifts more exciting/needed." - Lisa Miller
"Each of the children has their own wrapping paper so their presents are easy to spot under the tree. As a child it was always fun to think Santa picked the wrapping just for me!" - Morgan Strenck
"Every Christmas Eve, my mum and two sisters would watch the Grinch - go see Christmas lights while eating McFlurrys!" - Sarah Cattermole
"We play Bingo on Christmas Eve. Each card is worth a nickel, winner takes all. We have a blast." - Sara Elizabeth
"My personal tradition involves taking a little time for me. Instead of trying to squeeze in frantic holiday shopping on short lunch breaks, bleary eyed at 2am online, or when stores are slammed on the weekend, I take a whole day off from work and do all of my shopping at once. I take myself out to a nice lunch and, if there's time, a pampered manicure. I find that I am more focused and centered when I attend the many subsequent holiday parties and family gatherings after I've gotten this big task out of the way in one fell swoop, and can focus on the people I love most!" -Lauren Pinchin
"Growing up my mom, sister and I would spend a day in the kitchen baking and making our favorite goodies - chocolate crinkles, stain glass cookies, chex mix, etc. We would then box our goodies up and with my dad joining we would go carol our elderly neighbors and ones who don't have relatives in town. I'm so excited to be doing it for the first time with my three little ones for the first time next weekend!" - Stephanie Stark Cleck
"I live in England. We make Christmas cakes. I use a spoon to mix them that belonged to my Nan, then my Mum, then me. My son always has the first stir and makes a wish. We cut into it on Christmas Eve and the first slice is left for Santa." - Tracy McDowell
"In addition to the usual treats for Santa, my sister came up with leaving a bowl of oats out for his reindeer. I always thought it was the cutest little tradition!" -Ebbe Sweet