Our favourite holiday traditions

The countdown to the holiday season is on! Get festive ideas as Today’s Parent staffers share their special holiday traditions throughout the month of December

Let the countdown begin

“My brother and sister have moved out, so we always wait until they come home (sometimes Christmas Eve depending on flights) to decorate the Christmas tree with all of our homemade decorations. We always end up in fits of laughter about who has the ugliest ornaments.”
– Kate Stewart, editorial intern, Today’s Parent

“The first weekend in December my husband and I go to a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm north of the city to pick out our O Tannenbaum! We make a whole weekend of it: Saturday we get the tree, bring it home, set it up in the stand with water and let the boughs fall. Then Sunday morning we make a big brunch (usually involving waffles or pancakes – our favourite treat), then we decorate.”
– Karen Robock, managing editor, Today’s Parent

Share some holiday love

“We host a holiday toy drive/party at the local community centre for our friends. My husband dresses as Santa and each parent brings a small gift for Santa to give to their child and another for the toy drive.”
– Nadine Silverthorne, managing editor, Todaysparent.com

“We have a family party at my parents’ house around the first night of Hanukkah. The kids open presents, eat Hanukkah gelt (mmm, chocolate!) and spin dreidels ― it’s all about the kids. Aside from the presents and fun stuff, my kids love lighting the Menorah. They feel accomplished, beaming ear to ear, when their candle is lit!
– Haley Overland, writer/editor, Todaysparent.com

Read on to get more festive ideas from our editors >

Baby, it’s cold outside…

“On a nice snowy day, pack some hot chocolate in a thermos and head out to a local woodland park for a hike. It’s great to get the kids out in nature after so much “visiting in the house” time, and the woods are magical in the snow. One year six deer crossed our path!”
– Holly Bennett, editor-in-chief, Today’s Parent Special Editions

“Every Boxing Day, my dad rents an ice rink for an hour and all of our family and friends who are around for the holidays come and skate: The Chappell Family Skate. This includes young and old, friends and family, some wee ones on skates for the first time. My aunt comes and brings cookies and cider for after and it’s just this nice, different, thing to do, with lots of space for everyone, and gets the kids’ crazies out after all the hoopla of Christmas day.”
– Tracy Chappell, associate editor, Today’s Parent Special Editions

“I take “me time” during the season by running outdoors. There’s something about running outside that is very empowering – just make sure you have the right gear.”
– Cara Waterfall, editorial coordinator, Canadianparents.com

Movie nights

“On Christmas Eve we watch Love Actually – it gets us in the appropriately cheesy mood; on Christmas Day, we watch Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis on VHS and, if we can fit it in, all 6 parts of the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.”
– Cara Waterfall, editorial coordinator, Canadianparents.com

“Our all-time favourite holiday movie is A Christmas Story.”
– Helen Williams, senior producer, Canadianparents.com

“We love National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I always laugh at the part when Clarke goes tobogganing, even though I can’t count how many times I’ve seen it.”
– Karine Ewart, editor-in-chief, Today’s Parent

“Every Christmas Eve at 11 pm I watch the 1951 Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol with my mom and my sister. We’ve had this tradition in our family since I was about eight years old. I can pretty much recite the film by heart.”
– Laura Grande, editorial assistant, Todaysparent.com

Read on to get more festive ideas from our editors >

Reindeer games

“We love to play dreidel, even though we’re not Jewish. We started the tradition to teach our kids about all faiths and celebrations. The chocolate coins are a big part of the fun!”
– Helen Williams, senior producer, Canadianparents.com

“You can tell which games we loved best from — Scrabble, Monopoly, Apples to Apples — by the amount of pine needles in the box from our tree!”
– Emily Sadler, editorial coordinator, Todaysparent.com

Pictionary is our favourite extended-family game, girls against guys. The men are desperately poor drawers, but they can guess each other’s squiggles.”
– Holly Bennett, editor-in-chief, Today’s Parent Special Editions


“Every year, my dad read us The Night Before Christmas. Now I have this tradition with my son.”
– Alex Mlynek, editor, Todaysparent.com

“My kids love Once There Was a Christmas Tree. It’s so sweet. I always tear up at the end.”
– Tracy Chappell, associate editor, Today’s Parent Special Editions

“My dad read us How the Grinch Stole Christmas.We’d all giggle when he did his Cindy-Lou-Who voice.”
– Emily Sadler, editorial coordinator, Todaysparent.com

“Nothing makes me more nostalgic for family Christmases than remembering how my father used to read Dylan Thomas’  A Child’s Christmas in Wales aloud to us. It was originally written for radio and I always felt that it was the perfect way to round out our family Christmas. I love the opening lines:

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.”
– Cara Waterfall, editorial coordinator, Canadianparents.com

What are some of your family’s holiday traditions?

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