Sunday, December 9, 2012


I love traditions. All the fun Christmasy things we do year after year, some dating all the way back to when I was little. It makes me so happy inside that my kids are now old enough to remember things we do year to year, and that they can get excited about them too. 

I feel like sometimes the Internet gets in the way of traditions these you know what I mean? We are constantly being bombarded with all the "best" "new" "fantastic" "MUST! DO! THIS!!" ideas. As mothers, we may feel like we simply must try ALL of these new fantastic ideas.....and maybe get caught up in the Internet's Christmas. 

But I guarantee if you think back to your own childhood you have things that you did over and over each year....right? You probably used the same Christmas decorations and tree ornaments each year. Ate the same treats.You mother wasn't constantly checking her Pinterest boards to see what the next, new, of-the-moment activity would be. She relied on traditions. Now I love to try new things, but for the most part, we try to stick to our favorites year to year, throwing a new thing in to the mix every now and then.

One of my favorite traditions from growing up was our family Christmas date. We'd go to dinner and then to a store, and split up to buy gifts for each other. I'd get to pick out something for each member of my family. The best part was sneaking around the store and trying not to run in to my sibling who I was shopping for......we had to be sneaky!

Robby and I started doing this when we were first married. There is something so fun about shopping for the person while they are IN the same building as you. Over the weekend we jumped in the car and turned the Christmas music all the way up. We drove through the gently falling snow to begin our Christmas date. 

We devoured our food at Bombay House, talking about Christmas as our bellies filled with spicy coconutty goodness. We headed to REI to start our secret shopping. Robby and I each took a Little and we ducked behind coat racks and dodged each other until we'd found the perfect gift. Then we swapped Littles and did it all again. We stopped for cupcakes and came home with happy hearts.

Another tradition we like to do every year is to make all kinds of Christmas treats. I love my kids in the kitchen helping out --I want them to remember these things when they are all grown up (please don't let that happen too soon.) 
Peppermint Bark is so easy for little hands to help stir and spread, and boy do they love to crush the candy canes.

We came home from church on Sunday, threw on our jammies, and got to work on our peppermint treat.
Peppermint Bark
12 oz white chocolate
18 oz dark chocolate
1 cup crushed candy canes (8-10 candy canes)

Here's a little help if you are interested--how to melt chocolate here

-Melt 12oz of the dark chocolate and spread it onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
-Put it in the freezer until it sets up hard, about 15-20 minutes. 
-Crush candy canes by putting them in a plastic bag and letting your kids whack them to pieces with a rolling pin (they will love you forever for letting them do this)
-Melt white chocolate and mix in crushed candy canes. Spread over dark chocolate and return to freezer until white chocolate sets up. 
-Melt remaining 6 oz dark chocolate and drizzle over dark and white layers. 
-Return to freezer until it sets up.
And just like that you have peppermint bark!

Some more traditions we look forward to are:
-heading downtown to see the lights
-making a gingerbread house
-this year we are trying something new and being "secret santas" for a family....we talked about our plan on our dinner date and are very excited
-acting out the nativity on Christmas Eve (in our new Christmas pajamas!)

What are some of your favorite Christmas Traditions?


The Webbs said...

ahhh love. we do the same thing with our stocking stuffers. head to the store Christmas eve and go crazy with the kiddos :)

we started a new tradition of picking out a new ornament each year at the store. This backfired on me this year-my husband picked out the ugliest ornament on purpose. he reminded me that was the fun of it!

i agree pinterest is KILLING me. keeping up with the pinteresters is really boring if you think about it. :)

more traditions are temple lights, lights, making treats of course, and snuggling watching Christmas movies every single day-while eating lots of soup. and our amazing ward party is literally the coolest thing ever-the kids work for days on preparing the "little town of Bethlehem."

Bri {collected} said...

Sheena, your hair is unreal. It is gorgeous!!!!

whitneyingram said...

This is a good reminder for moms. GET OFF PINTEREST!

Our traditions are a mix of old and new. Old ones are picking out a new ornament for each kid and then when they grow up, they will have a bunch to hang on their own Christmas trees someday. Another old one is chocolate grab bag. Ethan's dad used to go to a fancy chocolate shop and buy tons of boxes of chocolates and then put them in a big bag. Everyone got a turn to reach in and pick out a box. And then everyone trades and tastes.

Our new ones with our own little family is going to go see "Christmas Carol" at Hale Center Theater. It's like a giant gulp of Christmas spirit. And then after, we go to dinner. And as a little family, we have a big fancy Christmas Eve dinner with china and fancy bubbly drinks. And we also read Luke 2 before bed.

For the record, we are having the best Christmas so far. I am so obsessed with my Christmasy house.

RaniaMaria said...

Oh what a lovely idea, with the christmas date! I love how you cherish the traditions and make sure your kids get to experience it!

For me it's about cozyness, christmas carols playing and candles burning. Making gingerbread and saffron buns. Also, I will never ever be too old for a chocolate calendar and to hang a christmas sock by the bed the night before christmas ;)

I recently moved in with my boyfriend, so we're building up and making our own christmas and traditions now, mixed from both of our families :)

Eleanor said...

All of these traditions are what make this holiday so magical!

Ashley said...

I also LOVE traditions. My husband and I don't have many yet, but I have such fond memories of our family traditions when I lived at home. Adorable photos!

Alison said...

We love to bundle up and walk around our neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights, make cut out snowflakes to put up all over the house, deliver bags of food to the local food pantry and go to church on Christmas Eve followed by a special dinner.

We make this peppermint bark too. I love having kids in the kitchen!

the greers said...

Our traditions are a mix from our pasts and new ideas we love together! Driving around with milkshakes to look at Christmas Lights, stringing popcorn for our tree, baking Christmas treats, paper snowflakes, and Christmas Eve pajama presents then we read about Santa then Jesus' birth. With our little family it's been fun to blend our past traditions and think up some of our own! Happy Christmas everyone!

melissa said...

we just got our december ensign and guess what one of the articles is about? the importance of traditions! especially during holidays. i've been thinking about it all weekend! i'm not really very good at making things special, but i'm starting to try harder because when kids grow up those are the things they think their childhood was entirely made of. they forget all the boring days. :) i'm pretty sure i need to make peppermint bark a tradition, since nate won't eat much of it i'll get it all! bwa ha ha.

Nessa Bixler said...

Me and my husband did this when we were first dating - we went on chaperoned dates or to public places. So it started our first Christmas. We went to the mall and split up. It was a small mall, so we would spot each other. Oh it was so much fun. I think we need to do this again. We kept it up until our littles were born. I think it is time to do it again... thanks Sheena.

Tanae Nelson said...

We are doing our first secret santa for a neighbor family. I have been looking online for ideas for it, but do you have any resources you can share??

Shannon said...

I maintain that I am grateful to not be on Pinterest. I love our family traditions from when I was growing up. Our collection of advent calendars, singing in the evenings (and now we have Ian and his guitar in the mix!), listening to John Denver and the Muppets over and over, and baking many batches of chocolate bread to take to friends and neighbors. Christmas time is the best! Oh and I am going to try your peppermint bark. I love that stuff!

purdywords said...

Your blog just keeps getting better and better! :) Your traditions are great. I love reading about how others spend their holidays, what's most important, enjoying their own families.

My husband and 3 littles make cookies and toffee and then walk around our neighborhood court, delivering our Christmas cards along with a bag of goodies for each of our neighbors. We light our Advent wreath candles at dinnertime. We let the kiddos stay up late on Sunday nights or Monday nights to watch Christmas movies. We attend mass as a family after a simple crockpot dinner beforehand, and come home afterwards to have the kids exchange Christmas ornaments they've picked out for each other. I keep separate ornament bin for each of them and mark with permanent Sharpie marker, their name, the year and if room, which sibling bought the particular ornament. My hope is that when they (sniff sniff) leave our family home to go onto their own (hopefully not until after college) then they already have a sentimental starter set of ornaments for their own Christmas tree. I hope it's a tradition they will continue into adulthood.

To keep ourselves in check, and to attach a little more meaning to Christmas for our kids, we have a "three present rule" that we adhere to and I quite like it. Of course we have a budget that we stick to, but stocking stuffers are fun and useful items, but the gifts under the tree total 3 and only 3 for each kid (aside from what they get from grandparents and aunts/uncles). My kids know that they get 3 gifts because that's what Jesus received-e gold, frankensence, myrhh. It helps to stress the true meaning and Nativity story, too.

We've been crafting a little bit, but really just trying to keep things simple around here with a bright-eyed two-year-old, inquisitive four-year-old, and energetic eight-year-old, I'm learning to strike a balance between simple traditions and the quiet beauty of the Advent season before Christmas begins. And in our home, Christmas truly begins on Christmas day and lasts through Epiphany. That's what we are trying to instill in them. Less Santa, more Christ.

jen said...

I feel the very same way, Christmas traditions seem to be so easily dispensable, at least on the Internet, but I think deep down inside most people treasure their family traditions. I love using traditions and mementos from my childhood too, wooden ornaments my mother painted when I was a child, visiting temple square, taking treats and Christmas cards to neighbors and friends, the best time of year!

CarrieLovesKeith said...

Such a great post, Sheena! Just what I needed to hear: stop comparing myself to pinterest! :)

Thanks for sharing your traditions!

Cassidy N said...

Lovely post :)

I just used your recipe to make this too :) It's just setting at the moment, can't wait to try it!
Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your holiday traditions... and your peppermint bark recipe! I make it every year, but much prefer your method of layering and mixing the candy cane right in. It's much thicker (and much prettier, of course). Yum!

Jay said...

YUm!! Mint and chocolate are one of my favorite combinations.

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