One of the hottest Christmas traditions happening at this very moment on my Facebook news feed is the Elf on the Shelf®. I began to see this elf last year here and there, but this year it seems his popularity has skyrocketed. Do you have an Elf on the Shelf? What are your favorite holiday traditions?

According to the Elf on the Shelf® website, "The Elf on the Shelf®: A Christmas Tradition is the very special tool that helps Santa know who to put on the Naughty and Nice list. This interactive holiday hide-and-seek tradition is perfect for children and families of all ages." There are even several Pinterest boards dedicated to adventures of many elves.

Here is a list of some of my favorite traditions to consider trying with your family this holiday season:


  • Make a gingerbread house — You can pick up pre-made kits at your local Exchange or big box store that come complete with various types of candy and icing. You can also make one from scratch with homemade gingerbread or graham crackers and royal icing.
  • Baking your family favorite baked goods — Every year we use one of my best friend's Aunt's sugar cookie recipe for Christmas cut out cookies. We also make buck-eyes and chocolate / nut covered pretzels.
  • Camp out under the Christmas tree. We also leave the Christmas tree lights all night on Christmas Eve.
  • Have a Cookie Party — We invite over 10-12 friends and everyone brings a few dozen cookies. Before everyone leaves the party they each take a big container home of a 10-12 different varieties of cookies.
  • Open one gift on Christmas Eve.
  • Track Santa's travels across the globe on NORAD.
  • Watch Christmas classic movies.
  • Attend a Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
  • Leave cookies and milk out for Santa and oatmeal for the reindeer.
  • Attend evening church services.
  • Drive around at night to look at Christmas tree lights.
  • Play favorite holiday CD while wrapping gifts and baking.
  • Buy toys for Toys for Tots.
  • Purchase one new special holiday ornament.


There are so many traditions to choose from, here are few other traditions to consider:

  • Purchase matching pajamas for the kids.
  • Attend midnight church services.
  • Read the Story of Jesus on Christmas Eve.
  • Read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.
  • Leave a container full of water out for the reindeer.
  • Wait to place the gifts under the tree until Christmas Eve.


Keeping our family traditions consistent, when our spouses are deployed, can be a difficult. However, by doing so we create predictability in our family routines and that helps build confident, resilient kids.


What are your favorite traditions?

Source links:

Elf on the Shelf —

Related story:

Holiday Traditions You Should Create This Year iVillage


Is there a program for spouse education similar to the one for the military member?
Wendy Poling USAA

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