Christmas Traditions for Our Little Family

It’s crazy, isn’t it, how you grow up? One day, you’re 22, but still clinging to those family roots and traditions. And then you get married, eventually have kids, and are tasked with starting traditions for your very own little family.

And if you’re anything like me, you pressure yourself into making Christmas extra-special and meaningful and magical. It’s a lot of work. And effort. But oh, so much fun!

Our family is still (pretty) young, so we’re still in the business of making traditions. But here are two that have become pretty important to us over the years. Plus a bonus.

Santa Pancakes (and Christmas Tree French Toast)

Well, this particular year, bro-in-law Chris asked for BOTH Santa Pancakes AND Christmas Tree French Toast. Yes, I was a hero.

We do love having company on Christmas morning. Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with just having the four of us, opening presents and playing with them and enjoying each other. But Christmas morning feels like such a family time to me. As in, the more, the merrier.

One or both sets of our parents usually shows up, either on Christmas Eve or in the early hours of Christmas morning. (We tell them we won’t make the kids wait for late arrivals…) Sometimes, my sister and brother-in-law are around. And various others have sat at our table for breakfast on Christmas morning over the years.

That’s because it’s an especially worthwhile place to sit.

I’m not known for making breakfast. In fact, Jason doesn’t really like big breakfasts, so I don’t have much practice. But several years ago, I ran across recipes for Santa Pancakes and Christmas Tree French Toast. And I have perfected them.

The kids prefer the Santas, of course, but my husband likes the trees best. Occasionally, I do both. It’s always hectic. But oh, so much fun! Here are the recipes:

Santa Pancakes:

Ingredients:
Prepared pancake batter
Red decorator’s sugar
Cherry pie filling
Banana slices
Chocolate chips
Lots of canned whipped cream

Prepare pancakes that take up at least half of the plates you’ll be using. Keep them warm in oven until right before time to eat. When ready to prepare, sprinkle red sugar on plates, then place pancakes on top, just slightly below center of plate. Add a pile of cherry pie filling in a triangle shape for the hat. Add two banana slices for the eyes, with chocolate chips on top. Pick one cherry out of the filling for each nose. Cut one banana slice in half and use the halves for the ears. Then, go crazy with that whipped cream. Use plenty for the beard, then go up each side, across the bottom of the hat, and finally, add a puff at the top of the hat. Serve immediately.

Christmas Tree French Toast

Ingredients:
Prepared french toast pieces, cut diagonally into triangles (2 from each piece of bread)
Clementines
Powdered sugar
Green decorator’s sugar
Prepared sausage links

When you are ready to eat, put three triangles of french toast on each plate, overlapping, like a tree (you may only be able to fit two). Sprinkle with powdered sugar snow and green sugar. Add a half-slice of clementine for the sun and a sausage link stump. Serve immediately.

Christmas PJs

My kiddos in their Christmas jammies, right after putting up the tree.

I love, love, love Christmas decorations, so I plan a party for the day we plan to put up the tree. Again, it’s sometimes just the four of us, but we often have other people around for this, too.

I get all the other decorating done ahead of time, so the house feels Christmas-y. We get the tree put up. And then the party starts. I serve 3-4 appetizers, fruit, and usually Little Debbie’s Christmas Tree Cakes. :) We nibble on the food, listen to Christmas music, and take our time decorating the tree.

When the tree’s all ready, the kids get to open a few presents. First, a new pair of Christmas pajamas for them to wear all season long. I have great fun picking them out ahead of time. Oh, and any kid who is there helping decorate the tree gets Christmas PJs, too. Last year, my sister-in-law was there and was very pregnant. Well, little Tait got PJs that he got to wear later in the season. There’s usually one more gift — either a book or a movie, that we then read or watch, while drinking hot cocoa.

It’s a pretty perfect evening.

Bonus tradition: Reindeer Food

My son, feeding the reindeer. I love that he's wearing my slippers in this photo.

I call this a bonus, because we haven’t done it EVERY year. But it is pretty cute.

We first heard of reindeer food when visiting the Indianapolis Children’s Museum right before Christmas. They were handing out little baggies of reindeer food. The idea was that you sprinkled it on the ground outside your house on Christmas Eve. Then the reindeer would have something to munch on while Santa was busy.

Since then, we’ve made our own, using a recipe I found online. Here’s what it includes:

Reindeer Food

Mix together:
Raw Oatmeal and Glitter

Put in a baggie and tie with a bow. Pretty easy! Here’s a link for a printable tag, too.

What’s your family’s favorite Christmas tradition?

It’s been Christmas traditions week at CabinConnection. Check out these related posts:

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